A quick read with a big impact.

Hot Dogs, Lobster & Boots: Why You CAN Afford to Outsource Help Desk Support

When you think about outsourcing your IT support, you probably don’t think about boots. But you should.

In his Discworld series of novels, author Terry Pratchett introduced the “Boots Theory” of socioeconomic unfairness, where a character, Sam Vimes, muses about how expensive it is to be poor. The reason rich people are rich, he reasons, is because they can afford to buy better-made products, like nice leather boots that last for years. Over time, they spend less than someone who can only afford cheap boots that need replacing every few months.

There are a lot of IT help desk managers caught in the cheap-boot cycle: They’re in constant reactive mode of spending money to fix problems, so they don’t have money to set aside for outsourcing.

Or so they think.

Is Outsourcing IT Help Desk Support in Your Budget?

When they first consider outsourcing their IT help desk, a lot of businesses think they can’t afford it. After subsisting on metaphorical hot dogs and ramen noodles, they don’t see a way they can afford what they see as the lobster and caviar of outsourced IT support.

But in reality, they’re already paying lobster prices for the poorer-quality in-house solutions they already have.

They just don’t realize it.

When you look at all the hidden costs involved in keeping your help desk in-house, you’ll realize that outsourcing isn’t just a better option, it’s likely a less expensive one, too.

Payroll and Staffing Costs

Payroll might not be a factor you even consider. It likely doesn’t come out of your department’s budget, but out of the broader company budget. So, when you see the price of outsourcing your IT help desk, you might be shocked and wonder how you’re going to pay for it.

But step back a bit and look at the bigger picture. How much are you paying in salaries and benefits for your current call center employees? How much coverage are you getting out of them? Likely, the cost to outsource your call center is lower than your current bill for salaries, overtime, health insurance, PTO, and other benefits and includes 24/7 coverage rather than 9 to 5 staffing.

Real Estate

Where are your help desk employees working from? Usually, they need to be working in or near the same time zone as the people who are calling. And that might not be in the buildings where the rest of your team is based. When you outsource, you can usually eliminate those rental and maintenance costs along with other hidden costs of real estate like insurance, utilities, and cleaning fees.

Tech Costs

Another hidden cost of keeping your call center staff in-house is all the technology you need to support them. Outsourcing won’t completely eliminate those costs, but it will decrease them. You’ll still have to pay some licensing and other technology fees, but your help desk partner will have their own phones, computers, and other equipment, which is money you can put back in your pocket.

Turnover and Training Costs


Overwhelmed by the idea of assessing these costs? Our helpful IT Help Desk Cost Calculator walks you through every step, making it easy for you to get an accurate picture of your IT help desk expenses.

When you hire in-house agents, their training costs are on you. And they encompass much more than paying one or two new agents to stay off the phones for a week or two. You might think the best practice is to pair a new agent with your top-performing agent. But that means that superstar agent is now operating at half capacity while he spends the rest of his time mentoring your new agent. Now, you might need to pay overtime to cover those gaps. Add all the extra slack that top-performing agent normally picks up to the time you’re paying to train the new hires, and the real cost of training looks a little clearer. 

It's also important to look at how much coverage you have now and what it will take to get more coverage. In addition to the costs associated with finding, interviewing, and hiring the right candidates to fill those spots, you also have to ensure you have more agents than you think you need to cover for vacations and sick time. If not, you risk burning agents out, and you’ll have to repeat the hiring and training processes —and pay the costs associated with it— for new agents.

When you go with an outsourced solution, you’re not shelling out for training or hiring costs or experiencing coverage gaps while someone trains a new hire. You’re just paying for the time experienced agents are answering calls on your behalf.


It’s always tricky to ensure you have the right coverage while sticking to your budget. After all, if you scale up by hiring new staff when you’re busy, you end up having a surplus of staff when things go quiet again. And if you scale down when things slow down, you run into trouble with meeting coverage and service level agreements when call volumes increase again.

The challenge of scalability also comes down to the cost and time investment needed to bring on a new hire, which includes:

  • Posting a position
  • Reviewing resumes
  • Creating a list of candidates to interview
  • Interviewing candidates
  • Creating a shortlist
  • Interviewing the candidates on the shortlist
  • Checking references and conducting background checks
  • Negotiating salary and benefits
  • Hiring the best candidate
  • Purchasing computers, software, telephones
  • Setting up hardware and software
  • Approving security credentials
  • Configuring access
  • Onboarding
  • Training

And because you often need to scale up or down without much notice, you might find yourself turning to expensive contract personnel to fill those slots. An outsourced IT help desk solution lets you add or eliminate agents quickly, without incurring those hiring and training costs.

Scalability is one of the top 10 help desk challenges. Learn about the other nine – and how to overcome them for yourself.

Top 10 Help Desk Challenges - and How to Overcome Them


IT help desks are a magnet for fraud. Today we see more and more attempts by hackers to reach the help desk pretending to be someone else to try to get a password they shouldn’t be privy to. And security breaches can cost you millions. So, your agents need to be thoroughly trained in security best practices to ensure sensitive information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. That takes lots of time and money.

By choosing an experienced help desk partner, you save on that training and get experts who have seen it all and know how to spot intrusion attempts and stop them in their tracks.

You CAN Afford Quality IT Help Desk Support

Now that you’ve seen which factors to take into account, it’s time to do the math and add it all up.

In today’s fast-paced market, the cost of the status quo is getting higher every day. Businesses need resiliency and flexibility, so they can scale up and down as needed with minimal disruption. Your IT help desk is the same. And once you crunch the costs you’re already paying, you’ll probably realize that you’re not as far away as you thought from enjoying the lobster-quality support you get from outsourcing your IT help desk.

Help desk coverage is one of many challenges you may be facing during uncertain times. Global Help Desk is here to help. Read our guide on IT Help Desk Outsourcing to learn more.