No matter how big or small, most every business has some measure of internal staff serving an IT support function. For small businesses, it’s usually a jack of all trades roaming from desk to desk. For large corporations, it can be multiple IT departments handling various support niches between Levels 1 and 3. When everything is stable, these models work well. Unfortunately, factors such as organizational growth and the constant evolution of technology can make the operational status quo unsustainable. Below are some key indicators that may mean it’s time to consider a service desk outsourcing partner.
1. Your staff aren’t scalable.
Whether you’ve got a full time “IT guy” on site or a team of 50, there will be times when any finite number of staff will experience short term or seasonal spikes in support contacts and ticket backlogs. When that happens, end user productivity suffers. If no one is available to troubleshoot they may resort to a DIY approach or shoulder tap a neighbor, compounding that downtime. Diverting overflow ticket volume to an MSP or service desk outsourcing vendor keeps response times and other SLAs in the black. It’s a more cost effective and efficient alternative to staffing up and down with FTEs to accommodate fluctuating support volumes.
2. You experience high turnover.
Having versatile IT support staff is a good thing. The problem is when an overwhelming majority of of tech savvy engineers is relegated to password resets and access or connectivity issues, burnout typically follows. When outsourcing to a service desk, that team filters out all of the end user support tasks leaving career enhancing duties to internal IT departments.
3. Company-wide IT upgrade projects are put on hold.
When IT staff are inundated with support minutiae, they’re not taking the big steps that grow the organization. Reacting to an onslaught of incidents whose root causes can be tied to overdue upgrades is a catch-22. With a service desk handling incident and problem management, enterprise organization IT staff are free to tackle the larger, company-impacting projects. This is often truer for larger corporations than small businesses who may not have infrastructure or network security teams in house. In the latter case, leveraging an MSP for guidance and management of those projects should be no less of a priority.
4. Your staff are more globally dispersed and you need 24 x 7 coverage.
In this global economy, workforces are no longer locked to a single time zone. As support volume trends upward along with growth and mobile staff, so should your available IT staff. However, bringing on more FTEs to handle after hour support volume may not have the ROI. This is especially true if agents are sitting on their hands at 3 am. Alternatively, organizations can set a rotating on call schedule. This usually means the assigned IT professional sleeps with their phone nearby for urgent and sometimes less urgent calls. Anyone who’s ever pulled this duty count if as a drawback to their employment. On the other hand outsourcing to a fully staffed service desk means SLAs won’t take a nosedive after hours. A team with the workload bandwidth to handle additional after-hours calls is more cost effective, because you’re not liable for those extra salaries and potential overtime.
5. You’ve got expertise gaps.
No matter how many certifications are on your techs’ business cards, the broad expanse of technology makes being an expert on everything unrealistic. Since most service desks come with a consultative component and CIO input, organizations can leverage that additional knowledge when it counts. Before making a sizeable investment in a new cloud solution or ERP system, it helps to get a second opinion. The service desk often has firsthand knowledge of the consequences of those investments with other clients (i.e. new software rollouts). So their perspective should garner some credibility. The service desk not only compiles the sum total of its resolution procedures in a knowledge base. They also analyze all IT related activities, trends and correlations. Then they can make informed strategic recommendations for changes and improvements in operational review meetings.
“What you don’t want is a service desk that sends you a monthly data dump,” says Director of Client Operations, Shawn Sumner. “A valuable service desk finds meaning behind the metrics and develops an actionable plan for service improvements. For support agents, this is usually a combination of additional access, training, or documentation. Occasionally, we’ll identify legacy assets that are frequent failure points or lacking the capabilities that emerging technology offers.”
Ultimately, the service desk is responsible for more than reactive incident management. And it should offer more than restoring end user uptime. It should be part of a full service MSP solution that advocates for the client’s best interests. That means not only addressing all of the above resource gaps, but promoting common sense technology investments that align with organizational business goals. Its starts with reading the signs. Then find a vendor that serves as the ideal operational extension of your organization.