What to Look for When Outsourcing an IT Helpdesk
Over time, I have encountered many companies who wanted to outsource IT support tasks, mainly the helpdesk part. Here are some stereotypical cases based on the size of the business, which I am going to describe and point out the issues with their approach.
Small Businesses Outsourcing
Many small businesses have either an “IT guy” which is hired by the hour when there is a problem or have an employee who is handling the IT on the side. Focus is most of the time just to get things working, but less value is given to proper services and solutions in order to have things done quick and cheap.
There are no cost savings by having the employee do the IT work, since in exchange the business doesn’t get the work done the person was hired for in the first place. When the IT issue is too complex for the employee, then there are already resources spent and the issue might have worsened when bad fixes were applied. A good freelancer might rectify those bad fixes and solve your problems properly. Risk here is not to have a good IT support person in the first place or easily wear out the IT freelancer with too many requests one single person cannot handle.
In comparison, hiring a managed IT service provider like Jan IT, a small business benefits of having a complete team with a proven record of expertise for a similar pricing as a freelancer who does not have the backup of a group of IT experts.
Medium Sized Businesses Outsourcing
Medium sized businesses have usually dedicated IT staff to administrate IT infrastructure and help users with their computer problems. Their focus lies often in cost saving and aim to reduce their staff count when approaching us but on the same request want the same or better service for equal or less, they are paying now. Which mostly means a high qualified IT administrator on site every day and being able to be called in on holidays and weekends.
This doesn’t work for basic economic reasons. An outsourced IT administrator working on an on-site helpdesk cannot be utilized for other works, means the complete salary along with costs for administration, training, equipment and backfill personnel have to be carried by the client who demanded a full time support with the convenient option to have always a replacement ready.
IT service providers who are providing staff for the requested pricing have to source cheaper and in the end lower skilled staff who can’t solve the problems at hand or might even make them worse while the provider has to stretch the payment to cover the low cost workers and the few skilled IT administrators who have to clean up the issues. Either you pay too much, or you don’t get what you pay for.
In summary, the medium sized business either pays too much for a skilled outsourced IT admin or does not get the IT service they are paying for with the cheaper provider. In such a company the value of a smoothly running IT infrastructure must be evaluated. As simple guideline, outsourcing is not feasible when a fast response time is required, meaning ideally having staff on site, the infrastructure is complex or has a high requirement for ongoing IT support. Having in-house IT administrators to run the helpdesk is in these cases too important to outsource it.
When to outsource
Outsourcing your IT helpdesk is feasible when the support requirements are non-critical, e.g. sufficient when a person drops by once or twice a week, to cover certain peak periods, for example bigger IT deployments or fill in expertise your in-house staff doesn’t have and doesn’t need so often. Our managed IT services provides your medium sized business with the right solutions. Either by being the support to your IT admins when they are at the end of their wits, help them out during peak times or handling the non-critical IT parts of your operations.
Once you’ve concluded that you benefit from outsourcing your IT helpdesk it becomes important to know how to identify and measure a good IT service provider.
Does the hired freelancer or outsourcing provider solve your problems? Do you get sound advice, or does it seem you get solutions sold which brings your outsourcing provider the highest margins? Expertise is an obvious metric, but sometimes can be hard to spot since you cannot know if a proper solution was applied or just a duct-tap workaround. You might contact us for a technical second opinion if you have doubts.
How fast do you get serviced and how well do you get a response from your outsourced service provider? This one is easy to understand and measure. A simple quotation shouldn’t take weeks and if you have to wait for a month for a drop in, then you know that your service provider is stretched too thin.
IT Asset Management
If you outsourced your IT helpdesk, a proper documentation of your IT infrastructure is a must. It doesn’t have to be a 100-page handbook no one will read. But a summary which contains all important information so a skilled person knows where everything is or should be without backtracking and guessing how the servers were supposed to work in the first place. A proper encryption of stored passwords is non-negotiable as well. IT Outsourcing service providers are prime targets for hackers, and you should insist that your passwords are properly stored.
In conclusion, as a small business you naturally outsource your IT helpdesk. Once you’re growing you have to when it is feasible to outsource since your size likely demands at least some in-house helpdesk. In all outsourcing cases you should evaluate that you get what you’re paying for.