By Marco LaVecchia, EVP of Sales & GM, MSPWorx
Outsourcing your service desk shouldn’t be about replacing your IT staff with lower cost resources (although there will always be companies that look at it this way). It should be about acknowledging the both the strengths and weaknesses of your IT employees and maximizing the value that they bring to the company. The best way to do this is by enabling them to spend more time on the activities they are good at and finding someone else to perform the activities where they are either weak or are getting in the way of them demonstrating their full potential. For most IT organizations (staffed with technology experts), the service desk is a good place to find value through outsourcing.
The service desk is a generalist function
By design, the service desk is the place where the least complex, most repetitive and manually intensive activities within your IT organization are performed. The service desk is typically responsible for fielding user questions, requests and issues – ensuring the need is captured/documented and either immediately resolved or routed to a specialist for further investigation. Efficiency is key, with most activities scripted and few expectations of creativity and technical innovation among service desk staff. This isn’t to say that the service desk isn’t important. The service desk is a critical function, essential to the effective operations of your business – it just may not be the best place for your technology experts spending their time.
Your IT SMEs are probably not customer service experts
Your company hires highly capable technical staff into your IT department – and you pay them well for their knowledge and experience in solving difficult technical issues. Most of the issues encountered at the service desk really aren’t that technical – they are customer service issues, things like: user education, granting access to resources and fixing known issues. To be effective, service desk staff must be concerned not only with addressing the issue that the user called about, but also managing the user’s perception and satisfaction about their interaction with IT. Although your IT SMEs are probably highly capable of solving the user’s issue or addressing their request, their lack of customer service skills is likely to lead to less than stellar customer satisfaction scores (an area of weakness)
An effective service desk requires full-time focus
Although the service desk may deal with relatively simple technical issues, it is a complex operation that requires full-time focus to be effective (even in a small organization). Service desk efficiency (and value) is built on repeatable actions and scale in addressing a large volume of issues. There are industry best practices about how to staff a service desk, optimize workflow, manage knowledge, tune performance and address satisfaction issues. It is these capabilities that enable the service desk function to deliver value to your organization (more than technical knowledge), but developing these capabilities can be difficult in a small organization without a critical mass or dedicated full time resources focusing on the service desk function. For this reason, it is often better not to ask your existing IT staff to perform the service desk function (or hire a couple of resources) but instead leverage a partner (whose core business is service desk management) that can provide the scale you lack.