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In my workplace, there are two IT departments, and each handles a different thing. This is not always obvious to the non-IT staff and as a result they often send stuff to my department that should be handled by the other one.

Sometimes I know how to fix issues that are incorrectly sent to my department but I'm not sure if I should be servicing such requests or forwarding them on to the other IT department.

Recently there was a situation where a user started arguing with me and insulting me when I told him that we didn't deal with his issue, and that he'd need to contact the other IT department.

Is it appropriate for me to service requests that are within my capability but not my department's remit? Even if I haven't be directed to do so?

If not what would be the best way to handle such requests so as to avoid antagonizing users like the one I mention above?

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    Ask your manager. It doesn't matter what we think or what other companies do, all that matters is what you are expected to do. – Philip Kendall Oct 3 '18 at 5:29
  • Hi @JRG and Welcome to Workplace SE! As originally written your question wasn't something we could answer here I'm afraid so I've done an edit to try and "fix" that - hopefully I haven't strayed too far from your intent but if I have feel free to rollback my edit and do one of you own. – motosubatsu Oct 3 '18 at 9:09
  • I'm not the manager. Please either call or email. – JRG Oct 3 '18 at 12:01
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Work it out with your manager and the other IT department. The situation you're describing is naturally going to lead to confusion by end users. There are basically two potential ways to handle this:

  1. Enforce the distinction and educate the users. If there's a good reason to have two similar-sounding support teams, then requiring users to deal with them differently might make sense. If you educate the other staff members in their onboarding and reinforce the distinction consistently, most people will eventually understand the difference. If you go this route, consistency is key: when someone contacts the wrong IT dept, there should be a standard reply where you point them to the other department and attach a simple explanation of the difference. You can choose to either automatically transfer the issue or ask the user to take an action to do that. Either way, you should at least be understanding because this type of confusion is going to be common and people will feel threatened if they think you're blaming them for screwing up.
  2. Build a common point of contact. Your departments could separate out the support work but still have a single phone/email contact. Then users wouldn't need to worry about the distinction, but the departments would have to coordinate. If the two departments are suffering from a rift that doesn't really make business sense, this is a simple way they could work together to repair that. However, it will only work if the leaders of the departments can work together well and agree on who handles what. If that's not the case, it could make conflict over who does what a more frequent problem, which would hurt both support staff and the users you serve.

There's a third, lighter-weight option between these two: acknowledge, in partnership with the other team, that some user confusion is to be expected, and ask how they've best handled it. Odds are good someone has, at least, a canned message that points a user in the right direction politely. Then get aligned on the message and who handles what.

For example, you might decide that the policy should be: always forward to the appropriate team, unless you can resolve in one message that takes you less than 5 minutes to write. Even if you're resolving, include the standard message that support requests for this topic should go to dept X.

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    This is a solid answer. Sometimes the common point of contact is called "triage". It may be possible for each IT team to at least get the most common requests entered into each other's ticket system and forwarded properly. What really pisses off users is having to re-enter information and be told "not my job" by someone answering the phone/email. – teego1967 Oct 3 '18 at 14:08
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    Right. There's a big difference between hearing "let me get you to the person who can help you solve that" and "you messed up, go away" even though the next steps might be identical. – Shimon Rura Oct 3 '18 at 14:56
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Is it appropriate for me to service requests that are within my capability but not my department's remit? Even if I haven't be directed to do so?

If not what would be the best way to handle such requests so as to avoid antagonizing users like the one I mention above?

There must be some reason your company has set up two different IT departments rather than one. So no, you should not be handling requests for the other department without permission.

It may not make sense for every individual user to figure out where to direct their requests. Unless it's completely obvious (and it appears that it isn't), they simply don't have the background to understand where to send all their requests.

Thus, your company should provide one single entry point for all IT requests. There should be one mail address and one phone number. From there the requests should be triaged and then passed on to the appropriate department.

If your company doesn't have the resources to fund this front-line position separately, then each department could take turns with the triage effort.

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It seems that your users can’t send requests always to the right department, because they cannot possibly know which department is the right one. To avoid annoyance and extra work, the company should accept that requests go to the wrong department initially, and each department should have the ability to pass a request right on to the other department. The department managers should work that out between themselves.

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I used to work in a place where they separated the IT department in two at some point in time (due to political reasons not worth mentioning here).

What I used to do when having users that were coming with problems that were not under my responsability, either on their own, or sent by helpdesk, or users with mixed problems that belonged to the two groups, was:

  • acknowledging their problem and have an idea what they were talking about
  • if something that would be a mixed responsability, I would at least debug my part, if not fix it
  • explaining to them who could next handle them
  • explaining them where to go, and
  • if time/workload permitted would escort them to the desk of the person I knew that would be able to fix the rest of the problem (including taking newcomers to the helpdesk which was in a different building)

Over time, what probably your firm needs, is an helpdesk with at least 2 elements, one of each team, to receive people in a designated helpdesk place.

Slightly off-topic:

In my opinion, you being insulted because of a instituitional problem is way off limits.

No one has ever the right to insult you at work EVER; at least that is almost tabu in my culture between mature people. If that happens,a non-confronting solution can be telling someone that they may be able to talk you when they calm down and walk way from the scenario, may be have a cup of coffee and come back.

  • He insulted me, and then I told him to ***ck off. That would require a thread of its own – JRG Oct 5 '18 at 6:49
  • @JRG In the past, I would have reacted like you. Do not focus so much in that part of the answer. – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 5 '18 at 6:57

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