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Cloud Computing: Help Desk Disasters
Saving nickels and wasting dollars should not be rewarded by bonus or promotion.

So many organizations switched to third-party help desk solutions without really putting in place any performance measures or tracking mechanisms to really measure how good - or bad - the support is.

Some executives got a big bonus for "thinking out of the box" and coming up with a cost-cutting initiative to outsource IT help desks. Those same executives do not want to hear all the complaints of people getting no results and wasting a lot of time in repetitive phone calls as well as no solutions to their problems. Even routine problems become time-consuming nightmares because the third-party support person on the other end doesn't understand the caller or the caller just doesn't understand them.

Was it a good solution for IT support? You may have saved some money on technical support costs, but how much executive time are you wasting everyday because the executive cannot get closure on a problem that would have been a routine (and short) support call? If you do an analysis, it's a clear failure.

Executives who made the decision would rather look the other way at a growing and costly problem. Is that considered leadership today in corporations? Not in my book.

First Step: Admit There Is a Problem
Most organizations won't go back and do an analysis on what they have put in place. Do a post-implementation review - if you even know what that is. (What I have seen in several organizations, the person who is supposed to have a strong, global view doesn't even have a grasp on what good systems implementation is all about. How and why did they get promoted into a leadership position?)

No one wants to see that their great decision was a costly failure as well as a waste of time for people trying to get their work done.

Stop looking the other way and trying not to acknowledge that there is a huge problem at many organizations with the lack of people knowing what they are doing in the support areas. They don't.

In talking to people from three different major banks, they all agree that their IT support sucks. Is that a clear enough description by those of you who live by politically correct corporate-speak?

Instead of flowery euphemisms and claiming that the savings outweigh the "small difficulties", face the facts. It is a disaster and by not fixing it, you are propagating the problem as well as losing money every day.

Typical problems encountered:

  • Can't hear the support person. The connection is bad.
  • Can hear the support person, but cannot understand them.
  • Can hear the support person, but they don't understand you.
  • Have to ask to speak to someone else because nothing is being done.
  • If there is a trouble ticket issued, they try to close it out before you get a resolution so their "problem resolved" numbers look good.
  • Making multiple calls for the same problem because it has not been resolved.
  • Other: You tell me - you know these issues are at your organization.

You're Losing Money - Fix the Problem
Let's be politically accurate. If you are in-charge of the IT area or the IT support area, get your head out of the sand. It ISN'T working. Look for a fix.

If you have a non-technical employee making $80,000- $250,000 getting a time-consuming run-around from a $20,000-$30,000 "technician," instead of a quick solution from a $60,000- $80,000 "technician," are you really saving money? How many wasted hours are acceptable per month? Half hour per executive? One hour per executive? Go to your boss or the corporate board of directors and ask how much wasted time per executive is acceptable?

Biggest complaints from the highly paid executives who have to deal with your "cost saving" support (my comments next to them):

  • I wasted my time with this person for several hours, got the resolution from someone else in 4 minutes. (Calculate the wasted time of the executive. Did you REALLY save the company any money on that call?)
  • I was so frustrated I ran this up my organization's management in order to get someone working on this resolution. (So let's see, instead of wasting one executive's time, your ingenuous "cost savings" initiative tripped up several executives into getting involved in what should have been a routine fix)
  • They cut the Network support staff and a security patch that should have been applied was pushed back. ALL the executive laptops that were connected on to the Corporate network had their hard drives wiped clean. Most of us did not have back-ups. (So letting go a couple of $40-$50,000 technicians made you "look good" at the bottom line. Now go back and add up ALL the wasted time you cost the company because all the executives lost all their work on their hard drives and probably will take weeks, if not more, to try to restore all that lost work - if they can. You think this is a "corporate urban legend"? This actually happened at a big-name company and no one ever went back to calculate all the time lost.)

It's time to sit down and do some evaluations. Better yet, get rid of those who don't understand systems implementation or the idea of having a sense-of-urgency in keeping the organization moving forward.

•   •   •

Carlini's book, "Location, Location, Connectivity" will be coming out later this year.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.TWITTER.com/JAMESCARLINI

Copyright 2014 - James Carlini

About James Carlini
James Carlini, MBA, a certified Infrastructure Consultant, keynote speaker and former award-winning Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, has advised on mission-critical networks. Clients include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, GLOBEX, and City of Chicago’s 911 Center. An expert witness in civil and federal courts on network infrastructure, he has worked with AT&T, Sprint and others.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.twitter.com/JAMESCARLINI

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

You are spot on, James! Your article is well written and makes the point that outsourcing, low cost staffing and using poorly developed procedures, is not always the best option. I've been in the Help Desk industry for over 35 years. I was part of a small team who built the first ever IT Help Desk supporting and using Microsoft. (It helped to be two blocks from Bill Gates office in Bellevue, WA.)

The Help Desk has always been considered overhead. In the late 80’s, it was suggested that using the new client server applications, the end users could serve themselves and a Help Desk may not even be needed. The Help Desk may be a cost to the business, but they are also imperative to the business. They are in the prime position to increase business productivity, share forward thinking solutions, and innovative ideas to improve how the business operates.

When designed correctly, staffed properly and managed expertly, the Help Desk can be one of the most important assets to any organization. You are absolutely correct that a carefully orchestrated assessment be done to determine the "actual" cost of doing the business of support. The cost per call ranging from $10-20 is far from accurate!

I have worked with thousands of Call Centers and Help Desks and hands-down – the problems are almost always rooted at the senior level. They need to recognize the value of staffing a Help Desk properly, training people adequately, and providing the necessary resources and technology to manage issues, effectively and efficiently. Low cost, poorly trained staff members with weak communication skills, lead by managers who are not given the support they need from senior executives are not the answer, as you have clearly illustrated. If many jobs that have been off-shored were brought home – it would increase organizational productivity, business costs would be reduced, and unemployment would be significantly reduced. Keep up the good work, James.




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