Should You Outsource Your IT Help Desk?

Employees at companies of all sizes dream of hassle-free interactions with technology. But unfortunately, the computer that always starts like a charm, the wireless printer that never jams and the projector that’s devoted to perfect PowerPoints are stuff of fantasy. Everybody needs IT help sooner or later. And usually sooner.

Mid-sized and larger companies have dedicated IT staff. But smaller companies often lack sufficient IT support. In truly small companies, it could come down to Joe in accounting who’s good with computers being summoned to rescue coworkers during his lunch break.

Smaller and mid-sized companies are especially good candidates for IT help desk outsourcing. With some thought, research and due diligence, outsourcing your company’s help desk can make you a leaner, more efficient organization, saving money in the long run. Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering hiring an outside company to fulfill your IT help desk needs.

Pros of Help Desk Outsourcing

Remember Joe in accounting? He’s pretty good at computers, but his real expertise is in –surprise – accounting. Outsourcing the help desk means Joe can focus on his core competency. And you’ll acquire outside help who are even better than Joe at fixing problems, keeping everybody’s computer up to date and checking compliance with software licensing. IT professionals need constant training to keep up with changing technology. If you outsource your help desk, it will be the third party company’s responsibility to arrange and pay for training. Not yours. This is cost-effective.

Your company also saves because outsourcing allows for flexible capacity. Most industries have busy seasons and not-so-busy seasons. Rather than having an in-house IT department that spends half its time stressed and operating to the max and the other half catching up on sports scores, outsourcing your help desk allows you to pay for exactly the call volume you need.

In-house IT workers expect to have time off to sleep, eat and recreate. But many third-party companies offer 24/7 help. So if a computer crashes while your employee is up late working on a crucial report for tomorrow’s breakfast meeting, help is just a call away. This is also useful for companies with workers in multiple time zones.

Cons of Help Desk Outsourcing

However, there’s always another side of the coin. What if you outsource your help desk only to fall victim to shoddy third party work? When you’re relying on outsiders, you lose control of hiring and training. If the company proves undependable, your own employees will be frustrated and disappointed when they need help the most.

Of course, there’s the risk of accidentally choosing a dud in any business transaction. But it’s usually easier to dissolve a third-party contract than it is to terminate an employee. So chancing the wrong outsourcing company is usually safer than hiring the wrong in-house IT person. And as long as you thoroughly research the outsourcing firm, checking references and reading the fine print, chances are good that you’ll contract with the upstanding professionals you need.

Outsourcing is Not Necessarily Offshoring

It’s important to distinguish between outsourcing and offshoring. The latter means contracting with an
overseas company, usually for lower costs.

Many people dislike offshoring for two main reasons: loss of American jobs, and foreign accents. Imagine the busy executive with five important documents open on her screen. She needs to print two of them, check her email one more time and is due at a crucial meeting in exactly 23 seconds. Then, crash. Blank screen. Frantic, she speed dials the offshore help desk. Someone with a thick accent politely answers. No matter how culturally sensitive this executive is, her blood pressure has risen by the fifth time she says, “What did you say?”

Consider this poor harried person before contracting with a third-party help desk. Talk to their workers, and make sure you can easily understand them.

Improving Your Outcome

If you decide to outsource your help desk, there are ways to make the transition smoother. First, be clear about the help desk’s mission. This article focuses on a help desk for your company’s employees. But maybe you want to outsource a business-to-business help desk or support consumers. Be clear who your new help desk is servicing, and make sure the third party employees have the skills and knowledge to succeed.

Thoughtfully set goals for the help desk. Chart your financial return on investment. Note the satisfaction of users. Factors worth considering include average response time, call length and success in resolving problems on the first call.

The benefits of outsourcing your help desk are many. After weighing your options, interviewing several companies and background checking them, you may find the outsourced help desk of your employees’ dreams.

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