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Before Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk, Answer these 6 Questions

Woman working at a helpdesk service with the blog title Before Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk, Answer these 6 Questions

If you’re weighing whether to keep your IT help desk in-house or whether to outsource them to an experienced help desk services provider, you likely have many questions about service levels, costs, what to expect, and more. It’s a complex decision with many influencing factors.

To help you evaluate your options, we’ve compiled six important questions to think through. Your answers will help you understand the path that’s right for your organization.

1. Can we hire more IT help desk staff?

One way to handle increasing help desk call volumes or manage increasingly complex calls is to hire more full-time staff. But is your organization in a position to add to your headcount? If you’re like most clients we work with, your IT help desk may be running on a bare minimum of staff as it is. You likely have neither the budget nor the permission to hire more staff.

Many organizations are facing hiring freezes right now that prevent them from growing the size of their help desk. If this sounds like your situation, then help desk outsourcing may be an attractive option, since it helps you meet your growing demand without growing your headcount.

2. Are we retaining our existing help desk staff?

When it comes to meeting growing IT help desk challenges, some organizations go the contracting route. Instead of hiring more full-time employees, they instead hire contractors. But contractors arrive with their own set of unique issues. And one of them is tenure.

Most contractors who take a position in an IT help desk have ambitions that go well beyond answering a phone for a living. They see a help desk gig as a stepping-stone to greater opportunities. When a suitable position opens up within (or outside) your organization, they jump.

If your IT help desk has a problem with retention, you should consider outsourcing instead of contracting. Outsourced help desk services companies are contractually bound to deliver a given level of service and coverage. High turnover of contractors stops being an issue.

3. Does our staff have the right expertise?

One challenge facing your IT help desk is keeping up with the latest trends in hardware, software, and business practices. Technical skills that were once essential on a resume a few years ago are now obsolete (Adobe Flash, anyone?).

Keeping older help desk agents whose skills are not up to date is costly. But so is finding entry-level candidates that have the right skills. Candidates who are fresh out of a trade school or college with an IT or an MIS-type degree are affordable, but not always qualified.

Then you face the added headache of maintaining a staff of help desk agents who know how to troubleshoot your proprietary business systems. Some organizations can onboard a new hire and get that person up and running on proprietary systems in a few weeks, while other organizations must invest months—or longer.

One of the greatest advantages of outsourcing your IT help desk is that you gain immediate access to a team of agents who are trained and certified in the latest software and hardware. They are always up to date. Which means you get access to a higher caliber of greater technical expertise and experience, without having to pay for full-time employment.

4. Is our help desk staff busy with the right kind of work?

Because of the pressures you face keeping your IT staff headcount as small as possible, you probably don’t have a problem with your help desk agents sitting around idle. If they aren’t answering support calls, they are working on something else.

But is that “something else” strategic and likely to drive revenue and change? When your IT staff are busy wearing multiple hats throughout the day, things tend to slip. QA might slip. Training might slip. Staying on top of call patterns and support trends might slip.

Outsourcing part or all of your help desk function to a third party frees up your IT staff to focus their time and talents on activities and initiatives that drive business value and innovation, leaving the business of Tier 1 support calls to your outsourced help desk.

5. Are we holding our help desk accountable for service levels?

To deliver the best level of service possible, you should have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place—and enforce them. But most organizations that use SLAs internally tend to make them IT-wide rather that help-desk-focused. They look at average time to resolve an issue or complete requests, but not how long it takes to answer the phones, abandonment rates, and other metrics that illustrate the health and efficiency of the help desk. In most cases, these agreements are simply handshakes. There are no penalties for not meeting expectations.

But when you outsource your help desk, you arrive in the sunny land of accountability. You establish a service level that your vendor must meet—or else. At Global Help Desk Services, Inc., for example, we guarantee service levels, and we pay financial penalties any time we miss the mark. These penalties aren’t really about the money: We offer them to hold ourselves financially accountable to meeting agreed-upon targets.

The primary benefit of outsourcing your help desk, as far as service levels is concerned, is that you receive the support you expect. You get consistent support, with Quality Assurance measurements in place to achieve and maintain agent performance.

6. Is our help desk capitalizing on industry best practices and technology?

Delivering excellent help desk services is part talent, part technology and part technique. When you have the best people using the best technology and employing the latest best practices, you deliver the level of service that your callers demand.

This brings up a number of questions, of course:

  • Are you getting accurate reporting and a clear picture of service from your help desk?
  • Do you have industry standard best practices and processes in place, or could you benefit from that outside expertise?
  • Do you conduct customer satisfaction surveys to see how your service is doing?
  • Do you have the latest technology to improve the caller experience at your help desk?

One of the rewards of outsourcing your help desk is that you ensure that you stay up to date on the best technology and the latest best practices in the industry. You don’t have to hunt for them. And you don’t have to pay for them, not directly, anyway. A world-class outsourced help desk offers you trained, high-caliber agents, who are using the latest help-desk technology, and who are employing today’s best practices. That sounds like a win-win to us.

If you are facing challenges with your IT help desk, you have three options. You can:

  1. Hire more staff.
  2. Hire contractors.
  3. Outsource part or all of your help desk.

Of these three options, number three is the one that makes the most sense to us, but then, we’re biased. But if your answer to any of these six questions is “no,” then you’ll probably discover that outsourcing your help desk makes a lot of sense to you, too. You eliminate the headache of agent retention and training. You establish and maintain service levels. And you stay current with the latest technology and best practices.

The result? An IT help desk that’s easier to manage, less expensive, and that offers next-level value.

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