On-Site Desktop Support Staffing Options: What’s the Best Fit for You?

A man has his hand out with illustrations of people appearing over him in different colors of the rainbow

In seeking an onsite desktop support solution it’s important to stop and think about what you’re trying to achieve before unnecessarily engaging a costly IT consultant or an overly ambitious sales professional. Rather than let someone else try to fit a square peg into a round hole, ask yourself, what’s the budget, how will the personnel be managed, and for how long do you need the position filled?  The correct answer is easier than you think once you’ve defined what’s driving your decision. Another useful approach is to review the below list of motives and the recommended course of action.

If you intend to try someone out and then, if they meet expectations, plan on ultimately hiring them a staffing agency is the best resource. Staffing agencies generally offer temp to perm options for desktop technicians assigned to your account. Managed Services Providers, on the other hand, typically loan out both short term and long term personnel who are their own employees and as such have “not to hire” agreements in place with them.

If you don’t want to deal with recruiting, hiring, training or simply don’t want to add them to your payroll in accordance with your CFO’s budgetary approval process, seeking outside vendor support is the reasonable alternative to a direct hire approach. In such instances, organizations turn to a Managed Services Provider because of their expertise, particularly in discerning IT talent while the assumption often remains that most staffing agencies lack the technical knowledge to adequately screen candidates. In truth, agencies that specialize in IT recruiting are often just as perceptive in identifying the right fit. An MSP offers additional value if ongoing management, strategic planning with projects, or additional training are required once the position is filled.

If you simply want to replace a departing internal technician at the same cost. Occasionally, when organizations consider outsourcing a desktop support position, they expect pricing to be somewhat comparable to the departing employee’s annual salary; however, as with a direct hire solution there are medical, dental benefits, paid time off and holidays, as well as costs associated with ongoing training, management, and retention to add to the calculation. If you have a sneaking suspicion that both Managed Service Providers and staffing agencies are in the business of making money, you may also need to tack on some additional margin to the totals in order to cover overhead, cost of sales, and what’s left over to reinvest.  Whatever the case, it’s safe to assume whatever the outside vendor is paying the resource they’ve assigned to your account will be less than the billable rate. As a result, it’s more cost effective for companies that simply need to replace internally managed staff to either hire direct or via a temp to perm arrangement with a staffing agency.

If you’re looking for short-term support, outsourcing any on-site Level 2 support to an outside vendor is the ideal alternative playing catch and release with your own payroll. While paying time and materials rates for projects will likely be higher than the hourly wage of a direct hire equivalent, the costs to onboard and offboard technicians for a few months at a time more than override those savings. While an MSP likely will have time-tested resources ready to place on site within a few days, staffing agencies can also deliver several qualified resumes for review on a moment’s notice.

If you’re looking for more flexibility with deskside resources. For obvious reasons, directly hired employees prefer to work within their skill set as well as their position on the org chart.  So companies that need more latitude with IT support are better served by changing out temporary resources rather than demote, relocate, or rotate out duties between Tier 2 and Tier 1. In other words, a hands-on desktop support technician will most likely balk at being reassigned to a remote service desk position and, assuming salary adjustments are non-negotiable, downgrading someone’s career path and simultaneously overpaying for the privilege. Swapping out external resources either through an MSP or staffing firm is more realistic and fiscally responsible.

If you’re looking for management, ongoing training, and strategic guidance, as the moniker implies there is indeed value-add with a Managed Services Provider assuming they have industry-specific expertise in IT support. Especially for organizations that have minimal to no internal IT department or don’t retain desktop related core competencies in-house, directly hiring a lone desktop resource might pose some risks to your IT assets without proper screening or direction. With an MSP solution, you should expect them to conduct additional training every time new technology is rolled out or additional certification requirements arise. The management team establishes a structured operational regimen, communicates daily support tasks, and provides oversight on the timely and accurate execution of all assignments.

Certainly, the aforementioned guidelines don’t encapsulate other more granular and potentially contradictory factors at work. But if you’re weighing the predominant aspects of what applies to your particular desktop support puzzle, you’re off to a much more informed start.