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When should IT consider an outsourced help desk?

Help desk services can be a drain on IT. Organizations that need new options can partially or completely outsource help desk services to make life easier.

The very thought of outsourcing IT probably makes most IT professionals cringe. After all, nobody wants to have their job outsourced. Even so, an outsourced help desk does have its place in the enterprise.

IT should never recommend an outsourced help desk to an organization purely as a cost-saving measure. Not only would that put the help desk technicians out of jobs, but it could also negatively affect productivity.

In-house help desk workers are familiar with the organization. They know the systems configurations and the common issues to look out for. An in-house staff also generally knows which users are computer savvy and which are prone to call the help desk over nonissues.

When IT outsources help desk services, the third-party company does not have this organization-specific knowledge and may take longer to help users with problems. Furthermore, many organizations that outsource help desk services to offshore providers find that users often report language barrier issues, which stand in the way of getting help.

When to outsource help desk services

There are situations that justify an outsourced help desk. If an organization's help desk staff is completely overwhelmed by the call volume, then outsourcing is a good option. When doing so, it may be possible to reorganize things in a way that enables the outsourced provider to act as a secondary help desk.

Help desk service types

The outsourced help desk would only handle first-tier support issues, such as resolving username and password problems, or the excess call volume. Using this approach, the organization gets to keep the in-house help desk expertise, and the help desk staff get to keep their jobs.

If an organization's help desk staff is completely overwhelmed by the call volume, then outsourcing is a good option.

A second option for outsourced help desk support is moving the existing help desk staff into the IT administrator staff. The help desk team has detailed knowledge of what is and is not working for end users, and it can provide valuable insight to other members of the administrative staff.

An outsourced help desk is also something to consider if an organization has outsourced all other IT operations. Although there is real value in having in-house help desk expertise, an organization that has outsourced all other IT operations is not managing its own operations anyway. Outsourced help desks would enable such an organization to break free from the last remnants of in-house IT. 

This was last published in December 2017

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