Take a look around a typical business today and you will probably see computers. They have major roles in many critical tasks. Some of the most important data is stored on them and managed by them. When they don’t work, the business itself may stop working. IT support has the mission of fixing computer problems when they occur to keep the business up and running. The next few paragraphs will be looking at ways of providing IT support.
Outsourcing is a real hot button for IT support. Management has to decide what if any portions of support should be outsourced. A popular structure for support is to break it into levels. It is appropriate to use this level structure to examine outsourcing.
Level 1 support is where problems go when they are first detected. The people working at this level usually have limited knowledge of the technology. They are trained in problem solving procedures, and often have predefine processes, commonly referred to as scripts, for guiding them through working instances of problems that have been previously diagnosed.
Since level 1 support technicians require less training and background then the other levels, a business is more likely to have staff that can already perform support tasks at this level. Since some problems, including many that involve hardware issues, need to be handled on site, in house technicians stationed in the same premises may be able to respond more quickly. However, it may also be the case that companies that specialize in support may be able to do level 1 support with dedicated employees more effectively than can in house employees that also have other responsibilities.
Level 2 support is for problems that are not resolved by level 1. The staff in level 2 need to be more knowledgeable on the technology being supported and on problem solving in general. If the company is already doing level 2 support in house and this is working out, then it might well make sense to continue with this, unless there is a major effort to cut costs. If the company does not have the required expertise in house, then outsourcing the work makes the most sense.
Support at level 3 requires the greatest knowledge of the technology, because it deals with the most complex, difficult problems. If the people who built the systems work for the business, then it usually makes sense for them to do the level 3 support. If not, then the best choice would probably be whatever vendor developed it. If that doesn’t work, then a support specialist organization would seem appropriate.
Well, that scratches the surface. This issues has many other aspects as well. Every business is different and its specifics need to be understood before good decisions can be made. Sometimes its even a problem finding people with the right knowledge for solving higher level problems. Structuring IT support is one of those jobs that is never done.
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