GENERAL

Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Choosing IT Technical Support

If you are a business owner relying on supporting an internal technical support staff, contracting for local IT support or national remote technical center, it is critical for you to read this information on selecting IT technical support.

Choices in choosing IT technical support include hiring internal staff with initial certifications to maintain and manage servers, workstations, desktops, laptops, printers, smartphones, operating systems software, antivirus, professional office software and special applications. Some enterprises have contracted with a local firm to provide on demand on site break/fix support. A third choice is to engage with a national remote technical center with certifications to support each device and software application remotely over the internet and correct any failures. Many national technical centers include pro-active monitoring as a value-add. Selecting a technical support provider depends on the following:

• Experience and Training

• Added Value

• Cost

Experience and Training – The experience of the IT technical staff starts with certifications.

Certifications recognize the technician has completed course work to install and manage a specific device or software application. The challenge for these technical schools is to find instructors with the requisite training on the most current hardware and software technology. The current curriculum many times only certifies technology launched 2-3 years ago. The internal employee must be trained on current technology which is an added budget item. The typical local service provider has a difficult time in providing training unless the company is large Refurbished Laptops enough to have training support from the hardware and software manufacturers or those large distributors that will support continuous training. National technical assistant centers have the numbers and synergy to maintain continuous education. The value of experience for remote technical service shows 90% of end user problems can be handled by an offsite technical assistant center.

Added Value – Added value from the point of view of the end user includes:

• Response rate after initial call

End users supported by internal technicians typically have to schedule a time to review and correct the failure. Many times, the device would be picked up for repair work, rendering the end user unable to electronically communicate.

End users could also have a long interval of “down” time as the local support firm builds a support ticket, dispatches and is able to assess and correct the problem.

A national firm providing remote technical access is available on the first call from end users based on a higher number of technicians available.

• Number of available technical agents

The enterprise needs to understand the risks of employing internal support to support end users. How is the coverage determined? How many technicians per 10, 20, 40 or 80 users? Local IT service providers continue to struggle with turn over. Companies keep the same hardware and software for at least 24 months. Technicians will work for an enterprise from 6 to 18 months because the work doesn’t provide new challenges. The Association of Support Professionals writes in its’ Executive Summary of their survey “Tech Support Turnover Rates” the following:

“Support departments have always had a reputation for high employee turnover, but there is little data about what constitutes a “normal” churn rate. This report draws on survey responses from 131 support organizations to identify real-world benchmarks for employee losses, and offers evidence that much of the turnover in tech support represents promotions and transfers rather than departures from the company itself.

The report also provides a collection of insightful comments by support managers on how to minimize the loss of valuable support employees.

Turnover benchmarks are provided by organization size (1-9 employees, 10-29 employees, 30+ employees) for first-level support reps, senior support reps, and supervisors, analysts, and managers.”

The national remote technical center overcomes a high turnover by having a large number of seats offer multi language support from multiple sites. End users are looking for near immediate support when remote access in offered.

• Hours of support

The national remote access service offers a fully staffed 24×7 operation included in the basic rate plan. Under the typical internal employee support, technical assistance maybe just designated for within the normal business hours. The local independent service provider will usually have basic business hours support and possibly after hour support at an increased hourly rate.

• Available on-site support

There are occasions when on-site support is required to replace a defective component or peripheral. The inside technician can accomplish this easily within the confines of ordering and receiving the component and scheduling the work. The local service provider would need to make two trips. The first trip would identify the failure and the second trip would schedule the replacement after ordering and receiving the part. The remote technical assistance center would identify the defect and schedule an on-site visit in parallel with delivery of the replacement part to the local technician. It is common for the national remote technical center to work with a highly organized network of about 14,000 certified technicians. Many remote access service providers include 24 hour monitoring (with and without anti-virus and spyware) with the basic subscription charge. This added value pro-actively alerts the center to faults and alerts the end user to potential unsafe files or websites.

Cost – True cost of IT technical support looks at the following:

• IT Technical Support Employee

Typical salaries for certified enterprise IT technicians are $31,200 – $39,520. After you compute an employee’s fully burdened labor cost and then divide it by the number of hours that employee actually works on projects, businesses often find that workers typically cost the company from 50% to 150%, above and beyond their gross hourly labor rate. The burden rate can be calculated by establishing the costs of the following:

  • Paid time off
  • Health insurance
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Uniforms or special work clothes
  • Training
  • Usage of equipment and vehicles
  • Workspace (e.g., office or floor space) costs

 

• Local IT Service Provider

Local IT service providers will contract to support the enterprise for $50-100 per hour. Some providers will sell blocks of support hours at more favorable pricing. These charges begin when the support ticket is created. The total charge includes drive time. The big box technology stores have set the bar low for on-demand on-site hourly pay. Their technicians are the lowest paid ($12/hour) and their charge out rates are excessive. The total call is priced out by the task including a $130 charge to tell you that your PC is not working. A $100 trip charge. A $229 charge to back up your data, a $39 anti-virus cleaning charge, a $39 spyware cleaning charge and a $25 charge to buy each of the cleaning applications. The local service provider will provide all these services under the initial agreed upon hourly rate. Please understand many of the best anti-virus and spyware programs are free.

 

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