Service Desk Outsourcing Pricing Factors

A calculator sits on a table next to a pen with stacks of coins behind them

Whether comparing service desk outsourcing vendors, looking for a more efficient alternative to an in-house solution or merely researching third-party options in a consultant capacity, getting to the bottom line tends to be the primary focus.  The reality is most clients have unique IT environments and support requirements. Yet no matter how complex the scope of work, no matter how nuanced the solution development dialogue is as it pertains to service levels, reporting and metrics, and ongoing deliverables, they remain the proverbial forest for the trees when it comes to securing ballpark numbers that fall within budget. While wrangling all of these moving parts to arrive at an accurate final price is a challenge, a good place to start is with the following top 5 factors that contribute to the calculation.

 How do we do it? Volume

For a shared staffing model, where clients pay per incident or per ticket created by the service desk, the monthly volume is the primary contributing factor to the total price. The correlation is, the higher the monthly volume, the lower the per incident rate which is normally tiered accordingly. In other words, if service desk outsourcing were a tangible commodity, clients that generate high volume would be paying wholesale instead of retail prices.

 Incident Type/Skill Sets

In addition, clients opting for a dedicated agent model (all agents support solely their account), service desk pricing is usually set at a monthly per agent rate based on their skill sets and the types of incidents they would be resolving. So a certified, US-based, veteran service desk agent who has acquired subject matter expertise and is capable of resolving a wide variety of support scenarios will likely command a higher price tag than an entry level log and route agent. Likewise in a shared staffing model, the more complex and time-consuming types of incidents, the more those in depths tasks are reflected in the per incident rate. By contrast, clients requesting Level 1 support primarily on access and connectivity issues will see a lower priced model.

 Your Ticketing System or Ours?

For clients who have already made a significant investment in an ITIL verified ITSM platform, it makes sense for the service desk to leverage those third-party tools rather than implement an entirely new ticketing system. Most help desk outsourcing companies should be familiar with all industry standard tools (ServiceNow, SalesForce, Remedy, etc.).  While there will always be an implementation fee whenever a client transitions to a new vendor, the client would bear the cost of additional licenses for new agents and any workflow development and reporting requirements. On the other hand, prospective clients transitioning to a new ticketing system or essentially starting from scratch should anticipate an implementation fee to cover the vendor’s workflow and form development, end user and administrative portal customization, metrics and reporting set up. Regardless of the solution used (client or vendor’s), licenses or subscription fees will always apply.   In either instance, those budgetary dollars are being spent somewhere.

Environment Supported

Is it a standard Microsoft Office shop or is it mostly homegrown proprietary applications?  For all unique applications and systems is there documentation or a comprehensive knowledgebase available or would it have to be developed during the discovery and implementation process? While some clients developing their own proprietary applications generally create their own end-user manuals or at least some form of video tutorial and a list of FAQ responses, others may launch service desk support right on the heels of release. In such cases, they may need the service desk to develop all training materials and documentation and beta test different scenarios, typically during the aforementioned implementation phase. After the service is launched, however, new technology introduced to the client’s supported environment such as operating systems and additional applications is generally included in the ongoing service even if it requires additional agent training.

 Language Requirements

For clients with a globally dispersed workforce, support from US-based IT professionals fluent in languages other than English and Spanish may add a degree of staffing complexity to the proposed solution. Unless the service desk is amply populated by agents fluent in the most exotic of languages, adding appropriate staff may increase costs. Unless the volume for that specific language is significant enough to justify the investment or if it’s not shared with another client requiring that same skill, a dedicated agent will have to be assigned to the account and priced accordingly.

While admittedly the above list does not equate to commoditized line items on a spreadsheet with a pinpoint accurate grand total, it is a good place to start the conversation in what is ultimately a consultative process.  The important thing is to engage potential vendors in a dialogue about your requirements and current operational challenges so they can determine the best course of action. Only once the scope of services and deliverables are finalized to your satisfaction, will you get a clearer understanding of what you’re really getting for that elusive total price.