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ITIL :: View topic - Outsourcing the Service Desk
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Outsourcing the Service Desk

 
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Ziad
Senior Itiler


Joined: Sep 27, 2006
Posts: 91

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:15 am    Post subject: Outsourcing the Service Desk Reply with quote

Dear All,
Can you please assist me elaborate on the advantages for an organization and the challanges the organization may face if it outsources the Service Desk function to an external supplier.

I was able to come up with one advantage and two challenges.

Advantage:
- Cost reduction compared to setting up a Service Desk function, staffing, acquiring tools, training...


Challenges:
- Confidentiality and security of data may be compromised.
- Management effort is required at the early stage to monitor the performance of the external supplier as per the organization's requirements.

Thanks,
Z!
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m_croon
Senior Itiler


Joined: Aug 11, 2006
Posts: 262
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pro's:
* No more worries about continuity of service desk in terms of resources
* More (development of) knowledge / expertise
* More chances for service desk staff to develop / be promoted

Challenges:
* Risk on acceptance by users (does this external guy know my problems? I don't know him, does he have any idea what this incident means for my daily business)
* Fluctuation in available service desk staff (people also being used for other customers of the outsourcing partner) and therefor risk of spread/loss of knowledge re. your organisation.
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Ziad
Senior Itiler


Joined: Sep 27, 2006
Posts: 91

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply, we can say that the list is quite comprehensive. I was able to figure out an additional challenge:

- No visibility over the effectiveness and efficiency of th escalation procedures applied by the external service supplier.

Any more ideas?

Thanks,
Z!
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Marcel
Senior Itiler


Joined: Sep 21, 2006
Posts: 63
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ziad,

When you talk about outsourcing the Service Desk, what precisely do you mean? All Service Desk activities (as lined out within ITIL) or just a few? You would really have to look at what your current Service Desk does and which of its activities could be outsourced and under what conditions. For instance, outsourcing the Help Desk/Call Center part of it may be feasible. But if your Service Desk also includes the role of Incident Manager (who drives the Incident Management process, also beyond 1st Line Support) then that is more difficult: do you want an external party to drive your entire Incident Management process?

Page 47 of the Service Support book presents some valuable considerations on Service Desk outsourcing. If you haven't already, I would suggest to check these out and see if and how to apply to your situation. In addition to the considerations in the book, I would like to add two more.

If most of the applications your current Service Desk supports are generic apps, like Microsoft Office, then outsourcing that support is certainly an option from a knowledge perspective. However, if your current support is largely focused on home-grown applications, then it will be much harder to outsource the support. Unless you transfer your Service Desk staff (if they are willing to) to the external service provider, the external party won't have any knowledge of your applications. It will take a long time before they can provide the same quality of service as your internal Service Desk.

My last point is a general issue around outsourcing, but certainly also applies to outsourcing a Service Desk. If your current Service Desk is well managed, with documented, repeatable, and auditable processes, and a decent quality of service, then outsourcing it is certainly an option. Your company and the external service provider will have a solid base to identify exactly what activities will be outsourced, how much manpower is involved, what service levels should be met, etcetera. However, if your current Service Desk is virtually non existant, or it's a crappy organization, then outsourcing is risky. You would have to fix your internal problems first before starting an outsourcing initiative. Bottom line in short: outsource solutions, not problems!

Marcel
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Guerino1
Senior Itiler


Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 500
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All,

Fundamentally, the reason why enterprises outsource their help desk/service desk is for a basic reason: It's not their core competency. And, because it's not, many enterprises are starting realize that other companies, possibly in other countries, can perform the same function, faster better, and cheaper.

If you look at the call center and everything it takes to support it (offices, phone systems, tracking software, etc.), you realize that there is a significant cost associated with it. Whenever a cost is involved, it comes down to a business value decision. As an enterprise, you have to come to terms with the whole picture and its value to the enterprise. If your business is legal, finance, health care, etc., then "call center/help desk/service desk" is more than likely not your core competency.

So, now you have to assess the business value of such a decision. To a small company, that has all of their employees in one building that has room for growth and phone systems that they already own with capacity for all the calls and the extra phone lines, it might not a be a big deal. However, when you have multiple offices, and the call center can justify it's own small office OR if you feel you desperately need a better call center and you know you can get 4 to 6 resources in another country for the price of one, you have no choice but to evaluate the value of such a decision.

So, if you outsource your Service Desk, we find that the best way to look at it is as if it's simply a remote office that has some extra overhead around how you interact with it and manage it. When you add this overhead into the price of the service, it may be more than worthwhile.

Anhow, here are some Pros and Cons:

Pros (Assuming you're dealing with a competent outsourcing company)
- Lower Cost of overall service (infrastructure, headcount, etc.)
- More staff to handle calls
- An organiztion whose specialty is the business of "Service Desk"
- Having another specialized enterprise focusing on solving the Service Desk provisioning problem frees your own enterprise up to focus on far more critical/pressing issues, typically associated with core competencies.

Cons
- Possible cultural differences and issues
- Remote office requires some extra process/overhead to deal with
- SLAs for the service must be highly defined and measurable
- Contractual penalties should be put in place to address underperformance
- Visibility into what the Service Desk provider does can be extremely limited unless adequate contractual agreements are put in place, up front.
- Service Desk provider must run themselves like a company and has their own agenda as a result. They typically want to make more money off of you, not less money. Once they're in, they have a history of trying to exploit costs.
- Knowledge Sharing becomes extremely difficult, as most Service Desk companies will contract to use their own tools and give you limited access to them and the information within them.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
_________________
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