Having recently looked at IT infrastructure, the various hosting options, the dangers of ransomware and what to know about software licensing, the latest blog in our IT 101 series now turns to the IT service or helpdesk.

What is a managed IT service desk?

An IT service desk is a dedicated resource, set up to support internal departments or respond to customer-facing questions and concerns.

It’s a troubleshooting team, with expert knowledge of your IT network and infrastructure, tasked with responding to real-time issues, so businesses remain operationally fit and manage their service levels.    

They can help businesses create structure and maintain control too, with a single point of contact that funnels all IT requests and manages the communication and information sharing around them.  

They generally use a ticket management system that allows administrators to log issues and document the actions taken, including:

  • Managing
  • Tracking
  • Grouping
  • Reassigning
  • Reporting on
  • Escalating and
  • Closing tickets

Whatever it takes to reach a successful resolution.

Why use a managed service desk?

It’s about ownership and efficiency. Sticky notes, emails and ‘to do’ lists will only get you so far. Even a slick spreadsheet will soon be gathering virtual dust, if no one in the business is responsible for managing, resolving and reporting on the issues logged.  

To that end, managed help desks are particularly useful for:

  • Businesses that don’t have a designated IT resource or have a small IT budget - that could be SMEs, start-ups or businesses that simply prefer to outsource IT issues to experts in the industry.
  • Businesses with little or no capacity for more IT support - where ‘business as usual’ or maintaining a standard of service day-to-day takes up all available IT resources.
  • Business committed to channeling their resources - this could be down to a specific IT project or staying on track with their IT roadmap and growth plans.

Are there different types of IT service desk?

Yes. Different businesses have different needs and budget, so service desks can be tailored to suit. They fall largely into two categories, internal and outsourced.

Internal service desks are usually one of four types.  

Local: Local service desks are situated within or very close to the business’s office and are used to serve small-to-medium sized enterprises.

They might support a regional IT network or manage issues raised for a specific product or service. As such, call volumes and issues managed would be relatively low.

Centralised: This is a cost-effective solution for businesses that need to manage higher volumes of tickets or calls, but want to do it with fewer staff.

A business that normally operates multiple local service desks can merge them to create one centralised unit, saving on staff, office space and overheads generally.

Virtual: Managed and maintained online, virtual service management systems are growing in popularity, because they act as a virtual CIO and allow businesses to create a single point of contact that manages tickets raised from any person, device or location.

A virtual service means there are lots of cost efficiencies too, making this option more attractive in terms of return on investment.

Follow the Sun: Some businesses tap into resources dotted across the globe to create a round-the-clock service.

Online businesses and bigger brands that serve customers across the world might favour this route, channelling traffic to available resources and making their existing service desks provide even greater value.

How is an outsourced IT service desk different?

As businesses become more IT-reliant, a drop in service, a full-blown catastrophe that requires disaster recovery, or even something as simple as losing internet connection, can bring productivity to a standstill, risk profits and jeopardise the business’s reputation.

Businesses that want to be on the front foot when it comes to managing vital tech and network challenges often outsource IT support, to ensure:

  • IT Support is available 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Every issue is guaranteed urgent attention to ensure business continuity
  • Specialist expertise is always available for more complex problems

There are other advantages too, such as efficiencies around headcount and employing full-time employees. IT talent is difficult to recruit and retain, and they also need holidays, benefits, office space, training, incentives and reward programmes to keep them motivated and loyal. Not to mention a competitive salary.

An outsourced support is a managed cost that can fit into the overall IT budget and the business isn’t on the hook for all the employee benefit trimmings.

The outsource provider works with the client to ensure the relationship between technology and business performance remains strong and the service desk strategy supports the business objectives, meaning you can concentrate on running the business and let the IT guys take care of any issues that may arise.

Find out all you need to know about the components of great IT support by downloading the first part of our collected series on the IT 101 basics you need to know:


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