Outsourced support can be the solution to all of IT’s problems… and it also can be the cause of a broad range of new and different headaches.
On the one hand, handing off routine helpdesk duties to a third party promises dramatic operational efficiencies, freeing up internal IT staffers and resources to address more ambitious projects focused on the company’s core competencies and revenue-generating initiatives. On the other hand, outsourced support frequently leads to poor customer service, frustrated end users and IT department strife—outcomes that negate the aforementioned efficiencies entirely.
But there are steps that you can follow to ensure that outsourced helpdesk providers actually do help your business, and not harm it.
1. Involve the IT staff in the helpdesk partner evaluation process
Left to their own devices, C-level executives likely will select a vendor based primarily on price. That’s a recipe for disaster. But IT professionals know the right questions to ask and the most favorable terms to negotiate.
Among them: Does the helpdesk vendor depend on other third parties for on-site and break/fix support? What kind of diagnostic and repair solutions does it employ? Does it have experience with businesses in your vertical? Does the service-level agreement fulfill your requirements? What are the contract lengths and termination fees?
2. Define all helpdesk partner responsibilities and expectations
Helpdesk support most often includes remote access enabling vendors to assume virtual control of a computer or account regardless of their location, an approach that enables speedier response times for diagnosing and troubleshooting problems. Select vendors with remote capabilities and negotiate guaranteed response times—never forget that each minute of IT downtime is squandering employee productivity and costing the company money.
Communicate to the helpdesk the expected volume of calls and identify specific times of day, weeks or seasons when support staff should anticipate a higher number of support requests. In the event you partner with an offshore firm, implement a fair grace period for the vendor to learn your organization’s particular demands, and prepare end users for potential language hiccups.
3. Establish clear lines of communication
Designate a senior management staffer to represent your organization in interactions with your helpdesk partner. Know which individual vendor staffers to contact in order to escalate IT emergencies, how and where to reach them regardless of the hour, and if possible, write relationship managers’ names into the contract. Determine their methodology for communicating change, their willingness to involve your internal staff or subject matter experts, and how they process and react to feedback.
4. Determine the vendor’s readiness for additional IT responsibilities
Some helpdesk outsourcing vendors are expanding their business to support emerging technologies including enterprise mobility, BYOD and virtual desktops. In addition, many helpdesk contracts are bundled with routine projects like desktop upgrades, so when you compare your vendor’s list of services against your current needs, be sure to consider potential future needs as well. You want your company to grow, and your helpdesk vendor wants the same for its business: A sound, rewarding outsourcing partnership is a win-win today and tomorrow.
The IT support function is a critical one, but also one that can go a long way toward streamlining operations when you are able to assign out the task to the experts. Carefully considering these points as you do will help your business avoid the potential pitfalls of helpdesk outsourcing.