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Rightsizing Your Help Desk Team: Part 1

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Rightsizing Your Help Desk Team: Part 1 image help descMore than likely, your enterprise has been faced with the question of whether the size of your IT help desk team is large enough to provide adequate support company-wide. Both employed technicians and outsourced help desk personnel are factored into the overall size of the team. Decisions, therefore, rest on both of these fronts. Executives are often faced with dilemmas on whether to invest in expanding payroll or to outsource the workload.

Enterprises often try to decide upon the right size for their IT staff by considering a ratio. A single ratio across the board has not yet been determined, even by entities vested in researching the subject. Experts, however, have suggested several tips in deciding upon an appropriate ratio of help desk personnel to employees. They have based these suggestions on the individual requirements of the company. In any case, technical issues cause disruptions in production. One person cannot get the work done if there is a problem; they often ask another employee for help, and perhaps other personnel get involved with the issue, leading to a chain of productivity losses.

Visibility into Trends

The cascading trend calls for a calculation of what an appropriately sized IT staff should be. The problem is that business executives and IT leaders often misunderstand one another. A language barrier is effectively established, frustrating both teams in the process. Workload demand needs to be expressed in a way both teams can understand. There are several topics to incorporate into a report to justify the argument for more help desk staffing.

  • Help desk call volume – By tracking the number of help desk calls in the organization, you can get a sense of what kind of workload is needed to handle the volume.
  • Time spent on calls – The minutes and hours spent on help desk calls overall provides further insight into how much manpower is needed to address and resolve the company’s technical issues.
  • User downtime – Reports on downtime are vital to assessing overall performance. Whenever there is a problem, productivity for the employee or employees affected halts. The entire production chain is affected, ultimately affecting the profitability of the enterprise. This downtime should be multiplied by an average hourly rate to reveal the potential impact on the firm’s financial well-being.
  • Historical information – With historical data, trends become visible. A pattern in user population growth then becomes visible, providing a hard number to use in deciding on the size of a support staff.

Comparing projections, derived from these elements, to those of the research organization Gartner help to decide on acceptable numbers based on industry averages. The type of company, its goals, and factors such as user training, geography of the IT infrastructure, and the distribution of the support staff factor into these decisions. Actual ratios vary widely. This is mainly because remote help and self-support tools may or may not be available and properly implemented. What it comes down to for your organization is the need for a detailed report considering numerous factors, so IT departments and executives can be on the same page. Using this approach can affect the large-scale productivity and profitability of your enterprise.

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