How Quickly Can a Service Desk Outsourcing Solution be Implemented?

A group of IT professionals sit around a conference room table in a discussion

The decision to outsource service desk support is never one to be taken lightly or quickly for that matter. Often there are more pressing priorities, both financial and operational, that must be addressed before any organization moves forward. Clients need to establish budgetary funding, evaluate the ROI of outsourcing Level 1 versus maintaining all IT costs in-house, and coordinate the transition with internal support (i.e. integration, communication, and role definition). Consequently, by the time an agreement has been executed, the urgency to move help desk support from the theoretical to the fully functional is usually at its peak. So the question then becomes, how long before we can launch this new service desk solution? The answer is, “as fast as the speed of collaboration.”

The clock starts once the implementation project plan has been finalized and a kick-off meeting scheduled. Next, the service desk project management team conducts an in-depth discovery to document business process requirements and identify supported systems, software, and platforms. Depending on the complexity of the environment, availability of client IT personnel and breadth of procedural documentation and real-time exchange of information, the discovery may be best conducted at the client’s location. While a remote discovery may seem to be more efficient and cost-effective, the sheer volume of documentation that the service desk needs to gather in order to successfully integrate both environments makes an onsite visit the preferred choice. Sometimes out of sight is out of mind. When clients are less forthcoming with the information required to “go live” (the date the service begins), a majority of the touch point discussion revolves around prompting them for those missing pieces. In such instances, frequent touch point meetings at short intervals leave little room for ambiguity of responsibilities, deadlines, and unfinished business.

Given the choice, ABS Director of Operations Hector Gonzalez prefers an onsite to a remote discovery regardless of whether the new client is located in Miami, Florida or Nome, Alaska. “Even though being away from family and traveling for that week, it’s much easier to lock down key client IT personnel and get the information you need versus having it trickle in over a period of weeks,” says Gonzalez. “Having an on-site presence motivates them to complete the necessary implementation templates and keeps the project timeline on schedule.”

Typical action items that require frequent reminders include defining the support groups, the individuals who comprise those groups, escalation procedures, CTI feedback, and voice scripts. Since most help desk outsourcing or service desk companies white label their support, having agents identify as members of the client’s IT organization in both the scripts and IVR recordings promotes a smooth transition and a seamless “One IT” concept. So establishing consistent wording that’s familiar to the end users is part of that concept. In addition to escalation, routing, and emergency contact information, the implementation team must identify any unique reporting and metrics requirements during the discovery phase. At that time, the service desk vendor will also outline any special requirements or training necessary for seamless execution of the transition plan.

Assuming client IT personnel are available for the discovery process, the service desk requests end-user contact information in electronic format either via periodic Excel import or LDAP Active Directory synchronization. Much of the time is devoted to training for the Team Lead who in turn transfers that knowledge to the agents during live sessions for Q & A and, for agents covering other accounts at that time, a video of the session is captured. The length of training depends on the complexity of the environment, procedures, and supported applications. Other crucial requirements that round out the service desk implementation process include access to the client’s network, additional software if necessary to facilitate network connectivity, network accounts and appropriate access privileges for the agents to reset passwords or perform remote troubleshooting as well as configuration items and asset inventory in electronic format, if applicable.

With a project plan and open task list constantly displaying on his monitor, Gonzalez has never missed a “go live” date once it’s been mutually agreed upon with the client. “It takes a tactful degree of persistence to stay on point within the project timeline,” he says with a smile. “That and about 50 conference calls.”