Should you outsource your IT Service Desk?

By Margarita O'Malley|14 October 2014

Modern day Service Desks should be both outward and inward facing which are not only tactical and built to react and solve problems, but also strategic. The Service Desk should encompass the role of the traditional Help Desk in that it supports the end user, but its end goal is ultimately to reduce costs, improve end user productivity and gain efficiencies through productivity tools such as technical knowledge bases, remote control and asset discovery.

The key question with outsourcing has always been, shall I do it myself or buy in what services I need?

The economic premise is that contracting out IT is cheaper than maintaining it in house. The strategic business premise argues that non-core tasks can be outsourced, thereby increasing bandwidth for the core commercial activities of the organisation.

If you are lucky enough to find the right outsourcing partner, they can provide increased flexibility, particularly in the deployment of new technologies, and drive down costs by creating economies of scale, reducing or stabilising overheads and freeing up both people and facilities.

The question today for those who direct IT particularly in SMEs has shifted from ‘do or buy’ to ‘how’? In other words, how outsourcing should be managed so that an organisation can exploit all the promised benefits whilst mitigating any potential risks.

Analysts often talk of ‘hidden costs’ in outsourcing relationships. This can happen, but it is usually the product of a badly defined contract resulting in unexpected IT costs and often poor service levels. We believe the answer is not only to invest in strong governance but perhaps more crucially the development of open robust relationships. One cannot ignore the human aspects, particularly trust and cultural fit which are likely to determine the quality of the day-to-day relationship and ultimately the success of the contract.

Trust is a key indicator of the quality of this relationship. Commonality arises through cooperative working towards shared objectives which are set out in the contract. Once trust is established, both parties learn that joint efforts will most likely lead to outcomes which exceed the parties’ expectations.

A strong cultural fit is necessary between the parties and a partner that takes this seriously, addresses it and trains staff for it, is far more likely to represent you the way you would represent yourself. They are an extension of your service, again working towards shared goals and objectives; in effect true partnering.

Research from the Centre for Global Sourcing and Services (CGSS) has shown that excessive formal governance where parties reply too heavily on the contract for all eventualities leads to unnecessary bureaucracy and reduced comprehension, buy-in, flexibility, agility and has huge potential for dissatisfaction in the relationship.

Therefore striking the right balance between reliance on the contract and being a true relationship partner is vital for day-to-day, cooperative, thriving working practices.

If you would like to ‘partner ‘with your outsourced provider in the true sense of the word and would prefer to just ‘dip your toe in the water’ as the leap to full outsourcing may be too big to comprehend or indeed trust, or get ‘buy-in’ for, then perhaps some type of hybrid arrangement is the answer.

Because of the speed of change in IT, it is virtually impossible for in-house teams to keep up. Demand for management and support for an ever evolving and increasing portfolio of tools, devices and applications, whilst also being more responsive than ever before without increasing costs is a huge challenge. Demand for ’always on’ 24*7*365 can be crippling.

This is where your flexible outsourced partner can help. Why not ‘Hybrid Source’ - outsource just your out of hours support or holiday cover? Perhaps outsource the basic 1st Line and free your team to do the higher value work in house or cover the standard stuff yourself and let the outsourced expert 4th Liners be on-call?

By outsourcing part of what needs to be done you not only gain expertise, free up in-house resources and reduce pressure but it allows you to test the provider, get to know them and get comfortable with the whole idea of outsourcing

So what can a provider help with if you decide to ‘Hybrid Source’? Well, everything form varying levels of technical support, asset management, monitoring and alerting or perhaps even handling your legacy systems when in-house staff leave and newer staff are involved with more up to date systems and technologies. Anything is possible.

It’s very likely that the right outsourcing provider offers greater staffing expertise across a wide variety of platforms and technologies with longer hours of operation at a substantially lower cost (as they can leverage economies of scale). The savings and advantages can be tremendous for the organisation that chooses to outsource.

Further Information

The benefits of outsourcing

We have explored what some of the benefits of this managed service could be.

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