Opinion

 Finding the Right Approach to Outsourcing Your Service Desk

Imagine this: you’ve reached a level where you need a dedicated IT service desk to effectively support your growing customer base. Fantastic, right? You know very well that hiring additional people is often expensive and not always justifiable. On the other hand, the configuration of accounts, mailboxes and application updates is no longer challenging for an experienced IT specialist. How can you reconcile the handling of necessary and repetitive activities in IT with the ambitions of employees in the IT department? You ask yourself whether you should outsource, or keep these tasks in-house. Your wonder about the right service desk approach for your business. As your company expands, you may encounter growing pains, including the ability to scale your IT services team. There will be a critical point at which you have to decide where and how to best allocate your resources.

Outsourcing is increasing in popularity, especially when it comes to collaborative partnerships.  One study of UK businesses found that 27% were planning to outsource more services, with the primary reasons being to reduce costs (68%) and increase access to resources (57%). Businesses can’t be expected to do everything in-house, but there can be uncertainty about outsourcing various functions such as data processing and storage (by, for example, switching from in-house servers to a private cloud service provider that lets employees access data on the move).

Service desks exist to deal with IT issues and provide strategic support across a range of IT capabilities. For example, if an employee can’t access software essential for their job, or it takes a week to set up a computer and network access for a new starter, the business loses money. Businesses may also use a service desk to field IT issues reported by employees, and could task the service desk team with managing access rights and bandwidth management. The service desk’s role is to ensure that employees get the help and support they need when they need it. Any delay in providing support can cost the business time and money. A good service desk provider can provide an efficient service for businesses, limiting lost productivity and supporting a robust IT network.

However, not all IT service desk providers are the same. There are those that are small teams or one-man bands, and then there are larger, global providers. There are providers who focus solely on the service desk function, and others that offer a range of IT support and managed services. While outsourcing service desk capabilities can be an easy process, there are three main objectives that businesses must consider when selecting the right service desk provider.

Objective 1: Look for a provider with a proven record of increasing business efficiency

When employees have a problem with technology vital for their work, they expect a rapid resolution. When this problem prevents them from completing their tasks, it becomes even more urgent to resolve. It makes no difference what business you are in, service desk providers play a key role in your company’s success. The relationship with your provider is a business partnership, and if both parties are working to make sure that the partnership is a success it will bear fruit.

 

Objective 2: Find a provider that will work with, and support, your team

Businesses need a service desk provider that provides a team of people who are responsible for the process of moving to the new service desk solution. The business should also have a dedicated team responsible for the move. Additionally, the most successful implementations of outsourced service desk operations are based on partnerships, where there is ongoing communication. Finding a partner you can truly trust is the key to helping alleviate your fears of outsourcing in the retail industry. It really is possible to free up your IT resources and maintain control of your operations, so you can focus on managing business-critical tasks.

 

Objective 3: Establish clear processes

Establish clear responsibilities from the outset. The service desk will provide a first line of support, but who will deliver second and third-line support? Is this something that teams within the business will deliver, or does this also need to be outsourced to the service desk provider?

 

The set-up process needs to be transparent, with no hidden costs. The UK government’s transparency in outsourcing roadmap is expected to lead to greater transparency in its own outsourcing processes (which totals £187 million per annum), but this roadmap will also lead to improved standards and expectations in the private sector.

 

Success will require that providers of IT outsourcing services show value in management and business outcomes, offer robust portfolios of services, and build intelligent management platforms. Above all, they must emphasize the depth and breadth of their knowledge of each customer’s business, create a seamlessly integrated organization, and develop a long-term investment strategy. In many cases, outsourcing definitely seems to be the way to go. Outsourcing service desk activity is an easy first step for businesses keen to increase their use of external specialists and remain competitive. When there is work that can be done more efficiently or effectively by a third party, or when you simply don’t have the staff or budget to hire dedicated resources, outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution for businesses.

 

If you are interested in service desk outsourcing and want to discover how it can help business create new customer value, read Comarch’s new white paper, entitled “A Practical Guide to Outsourcing Your Service Desk”.

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