If your organization uses software applications that you developed in-house, you had your reasons for going it alone. You likely created those applications yourself because no software vendor could give you exactly what you wanted.
Now, when it comes to providing support for your proprietary applications, you might be thinking that using an outside vendor for that support is also a non-starter.
But not so fast.
Outsourcing application support to an IT help desk services company can be done. It’s actually a smart move, as long as you go about it the right way.
Here are your three main options.
1. Call Routing Only
Your first option when it comes to outsourcing application support is the one that costs the least and relinquishes the least amount of control. Think of this option as the one that helps you test an outsourced help desk’s ability to provide support for applications that you developed in-house.
With this call-routing option, you give your users a single phone number to use whenever they run into a technical issue with one of your proprietary applications. The outsourced IT help desk agents answer the phone, log the call, and escalate the issue to your internal team according to your documented processes and protocols.
The advantage of this support option is that it frees up your help desk to resolve tickets rather than waste precious time and money fielding and routing calls. The outsourced IT help desk decides which tier of support each caller needs, and then puts the caller through to that tier at your location.
2. Top-Ten Issues
The next option in the hierarchy of outsourced application support is one in which the help desk vendor resolves only those calls from your users that are associated with your top-10 issues. The outsourced help desk takes these calls, creates the tickets and resolves the tickets, without involving your help desk at all. The outsourced help desk escalates all other calls to your internal team according to your documented processes and protocols.
The main advantage of this level of outsourced application support is that it covers the majority of technical issues that your users face with your proprietary applications. If you know what these issues are, and if resolving them is straightforward, then outsourcing support to an IT help desk saves you money and frees up your in-house help desk to work on the tougher technical challenges.
3. Full Support
The third option for outsourcing support for your proprietary applications is full support. As the name implies, you outsource everything—every issue, every support call, every ticket. Your outsourced help desk vendor fields all calls, answers all questions, opens all tickets, and resolves all issues related to your custom software applications.
This option is the one that requires the largest investment, both of your money and of your involvement. You train the outsourced help desk team on your applications so that they resolve the highest percentage of calls possible upon first contact.
There really is no such thing as off-the-shelf software anymore. The larger your organization, the more likely it is that you have needed to customize out-of-the-box software to meet the unique demands of your IT infrastructure, business processes, supply chain, industry, and more.
If your organization uses a branded Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, point-of-sale (POS) system, or warehouse management system (WMS), you have likely had to tweak it, add third-party modules, develop custom APIs, and in other ways customize the software to suit your needs.
So, when we talk about outsourcing support for your proprietary applications, we are also talking about outsourcing support for off-the-shelf applications that you have customized to make your own.
The advantage of this level of outsourced application support is that it frees up your IT staff to focus on activities and initiatives that add value, reduce costs, boost productivity and drive revenue. If supporting legacy systems is consuming too much of your help desk’s time and energy, the full-support option is worth considering.
Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Application Support
Before you make the switch and start outsourcing part (or all) of your proprietary application support to an outside company, you must get a number of things clear in your mind. You must examine your needs, the vendor’s abilities, and the regulatory environment you operate in. In other words, you need to ask the right questions. Here are a few of them.
What do you want the partner to do, and what do you want to keep in-house?
Do you want to manage all Tier 1 support in-house and outsource all complicated issues to an outside vendor? Or do you want to do the opposite: You handle the complicated stuff, and the outsourced help desk manages the easier Tier 1 support issues?
What security and regulatory requirements must you consider?
If you operate in a highly regulated industry, such as health care, financial services, defense or government, the option you choose for outsourcing your proprietary application support may already be decided for you. Regulations governing privacy, storage of personally identifiable information and other matters may restrict who can access your applications. Check with your legal team to find out.
How do you want the workload to be transitioned and managed?
Another question to settle is how you transition workloads to an outside help desk vendor. You may face resistance from your IT team over how much access you give third-party providers to your proprietary systems and data. Settling this issue is vital to a smooth transition and to a successful working relationship between your IT team and your outsourced help desk supplier.
How experienced is the partner with your types of applications?
Finally, you must ask the right questions to select the right help desk partner. How experienced are they with your types of applications, for example? They may be willing to take on the work, but can they handle it? You must also consider your timelines for the transition. The level of expertise of your help desk partner determines how much time you must spend on ramp up and training.
As you can imagine, you must understand what the partner offers, what your needs are as an organization, and what you are willing to allow the help desk partner to have access to.
Outsource Application Support for Greater IT Capabilities
Just because you developed an application in-house doesn’t mean you have to support it in-house. And just because your team has customized an off-the-shelf software solution doesn’t mean you must tie up precious help desk resources supporting that application.
When it comes to your proprietary, legacy and customized applications, you have support options.
One of those options is outsourced application support. You can outsource a little, a lot, or all of your support to an outside help desk partner. Follow our advice, and you will make a wise choice.
If outsourcing is on your radar, you likely have some questions. Get answers about IT Help Desk Outsourcing.