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With many organisations under pressure to fund new IT initiatives, juggling the IT budget has never been more challenging. One area being increasingly reviewed is whether to retain a local help desk or to save money by moving it offshore.

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Here are seven key issues to take into account if you are considering moving your help desk overseas. The right choice of help desk option will depend on your organisation’s needs in relation to these issues.

Local-v-overseas-7-issues

Location of overseas help desk

The most obvious consideration is the time zone where the help desk is located. If it doesn’t closely match your local business hours, then it’s likely you will be dealing with two separate teams (day shift and night shift). There are also cultural elements to consider such as your end-users tolerance for different accents and service dynamics. The alignment of public holidays with your local operations is also often overlooked.

Technology and systems

The savings from an overseas help desk should come from lower international labour costs, not from inferior systems. For example, escalations by an overseas help desk will usually be directed back to the local operations. So it’s preferable that both offshore and local support operations share the same ticketing system. Effective internal communication tools are also necessary to ensure that escalations are seamless. Likewise, it’s important that an overseas service desk is using the most efficient end-user tools, such as direct messaging for end users that prefer not to call.

To provide a viable offshore service, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) must successfully solve numerous challenges. They include hosted telephony and call routing, system monitoring, ticketing systems, and customer portals. From a telephony perspective, key issues include calling a local number, routing overflow calls back to the local operations and providing an effective after hours service.

Integration with the Australian help desk

In our experience, overseas service teams perform best when they are fully integrated with the Australian service teams. Some questions to ask a potential service provider include:

  • How do the overseas team share information with the Australian team and vice versa?
  • How is capacity backfilled in the event of unplanned leave?
  • Are there daily touchpoints and what does the service management structure look like?

It’s also important to understand how escalations occur and how the team communicates with end-users about incident progress and resolution, and major incidents.

Transition to an overseas help desk

It’s critical to know what you are committing to when choosing to transition to an overseas help desk. Is there a minimum time commitment? What happens if you are unhappy with the service – do you have an option to transition back and what will that cost? The actual transition process is also a significant consideration. How long does it take? Is there a clear, documented transition process? Is there a dedicated transition manager to guide you through the process?

Documentation

MSPs that operate an overseas service know that a pre-requisite is a robust, world-class document management system and a comprehensive knowledgebase. Ideally, the document management system should be integrated with the ticketing and monitoring systems to expedite incident resolution. The ability to link recurring issues to specific assets for root cause analysis is also beneficial.

Comparative cost vs quality of service

While the experience with an overseas team is different to a local provider, it doesn’t mean you should accept lower quality service. In our experience, clients that move to our overseas team elect to stay there even if their financial position improves. Ask your MSP how they measure client satisfaction (CSAT) and how their overseas results compare with the onshore team.

From a pricing perspective, offshore services typically attract a discount of around 20-30%. Anything more usually indicates that the overseas team is not well supported and the investment in systems and integration is inadequate.

Using the savings

The final consideration is whether your current MSP is able to provide extra services that could be funded by any help desk savings. Progressive MSPs are investing in areas like IT security, modern workplace, cloud services, and system integration. If your MSP does not offer these services then you are probably better to review your entire IT support arrangements, not just your help desk options.

If you are considering changing to an overseas service desk, the best place to start is to talk with an MSP that offers a choice of international and local service desk options. Talk with their clients who have made the switch, and learn how the overseas option differs from the local service desk option, beyond just the cost.

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