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Enhance Your IT Infrastructure with Remote Support Services

Enhance Your IT Infrastructure with Remote Support Services
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Save time and money by using remote IT support. Here's how remote IT services can free up your team so they can focus on moving the business forward.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockToday's businesses are more hard pressed than ever to move fast and stay on top of the competition. However, moving fast — with limited resources — can be a constant challenge. One solution may be scaling up with remote IT help desk managed services. It allows you to plug holes in your existing IT team, without breaking your budget.

MORE: Which IT Services Are Right for Your Business?

What is remote IT help desk?

Remote IT help desk — in the managed services sense — is an extension of your internal team. These services allow you to partner with an outside provider to help you with tasks ranging remote data storage, remote data backup, remote management and monitoring. Think of it like an opportunity to offload repeatable, maintenance tasks to outside resources, allowing you to free up your in-house team for high-priority initiatives.

Jason, an IT service deliver manage for a payments solution company in Charlotte, North Carolina, sees three main benefits to remote IT help desk services: cost reduction, an improved support model and continuous monitoring and remediation.

"By utilizing a third party to provide Tier 1, and in some cases Tier 2, user and systems support, a business can reduce operating costs while continuing to meet business demands," he said.

Here's how Jason evaluates remote IT help desk solutions.

A no-nonsense way to reduce operating expenses.

"A well organized and operated managed services operation typically employs numerous support personnel which provide services to several clients simultaneously. They are able to spread the labor costs over multiple clients and can provide support services at a cost well below that of a typical hourly or salary rate of a full-time employee," he explained. 

Close gaps in your support model.

It's easy for IT teams to lose sight of their own IT service management priorities, as they juggle competing projects and long-term initiatives. IT teams, often stretched thin, often choose to delegate support tasks to an entry-level help desk staff member. While this may seem smart (and affordable) at a glance, it won't work for every company. Outsourcing help desk services to a dependable managed service provider is often a strategy to improve Tier 1 support, for far less than what a full-time employee would cost. And, there’s a lot to be said for the peace of mind in knowing that a company is constantly monitoring your support needs.

Jason's not alone in his thinking. According to CompTIA, "improving the efficiency and reliability of IT operations [is] a main driving factor for going with an MSP for 56 percent of companies with 100 or more employees and 47 percent of companies with fewer than 100 employees."

Continuous monitoring and remediation

The complexities of the cloud have driven many companies to embrace the idea of managed service providers for remote IT help desk needs. After all, the stakes are high when you may be a SaaS business, providing 24/7/365 offerings to clients — who expect you to be online around the clock.

"Many SaaS companies provide their cloud applications to clients at all times, yet they may not have the financial means to staff engineers 24/7," said Jason. "However, such a business model cannot reasonably afford an extended services outage in the event of systems failure. For some, striking the balance between uptime and staffing simply means the use of a managed services provider."

How do you choose a remote support services provider?

First, perform an objective review of the potential cost savings (or expenses). As tempting as it may be to sign up immediately, think about when, and if, you'll see the value on your bottom line. As Jason pointed out, "If you cannot recognize a near-term ROI then it may not be right for you."

Next, consider your organization's overall culture. Are they open to outside help, especially help that is not on-payroll staff? As with any new program, there's a change management challenge and company buy-in process you'll likely have to go through to get key stakeholders on board.

And finally, get ready to do some serious research. Jason pointed out some key factors to consider, including:

  • The brand and standards of your managed service provider. Remember, they’re a direct reflection of your organization — they need to meet or exceed your standards.
  • Age of the company
  • What are their technical staffing resources?
  • Do they have solid customer references?
  • What are their SLAs?
  • What are you getting for your investment?
  • Consider the risks: what happens in the event of a serious outage? What occurs if clients lose confidence or trust in your organization?

Use these questions to help evaluate the broad partnership, rather than simply fixating on costs. If you can answer these questions and get enthusiastic senior leadership buy-in, then a remote IT help desk provider may be a good fit for you.