Increasingly the working day doesn’t end when the big hand is on 6 and the little hand is on 5. Many of us work into the evening and at weekends, whether we remain in the office or work from home and other locations. It’s therefore really frustrating, and can be costly to the business, if you hit a technical problem and need IT support when the IT department has gone home.
What do you do if you’ve scheduled a call with a client in another time zone only to find you can’t access their details because you’ve been inadvertently locked out of the system? Or if a customer sends an urgent request, which you could result a profitable partnership, but you can’t respond because of a problem sending emails.
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In some situations you might decide to call your IT service desk analyst at home and ask them to fix the issue. However, they might not be able to do that remotely and therefore will have to return to the office to get you up and running again. Whether that’s an option or not, it’s not an ideal situation either way.
Do you need out of hours IT support?
How you handle out of hours IT support will depend on how much demand you have. If your customers and employees are likely to be interacting with your business in the evenings and weekends – for example small business owners who often work antisocial hours or companies whose customers who buy or use your products / services in their leisure time – you’re probably going to need some level of out of hours support.
Generally speaking if you operate in one time zone, and your colleagues do too, you might need IT support in the evenings and weekends, but not overnight. However, if you have employees working from different timezones or need to support customers on the other side of the world, or in industries like hospitality or healthcare where people never sleep, 24/7 support is probably essential.
In-house after hours IT support
If your employees generally go home at 5:30pm and evening or weekend working tends to be occasional, the first step is to ensure you’ve got some ‘self-serve’ solutions in place. Make basic documentation and troubleshooting guides available to those employees who do work from home or out of hours, so they can fix any minor problems that occur.
You could also implement an ‘on call’ system with your IT team. Usually a senior member of the IT team is designated as the person to call and they will need to be able to access your organisation’s IT systems remotely from home. If someone has been unable to fix a problem themselves and if it’s urgent and can’t be put off until the working day, they can then contact the on call person for support.
Alternatively, if your organisation has a higher demand for after hours IT support, service desk analysts can provide cover from your premises. However this can be an expensive solution as they don’t come cheap – especially when working irregular hours!
In this situation is may be more cost effective to use an external provider. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all your IT support tickets are managed by an outsourced service desk; if your business has capacity during working hours you could just outsource your out of hours requirement. It’s a scalable and flexible solution that you can dial up or down depending on demand.
24/7 IT support
As mentioned before, some companies and organisations require IT support 24/7. Multinational businesses may need a global service desk to be available to employees, partners or customers working at any time of the day or night. Companies that operate in the hospitality and travel sectors need IT systems to be ‘always up’, as do healthcare organisations where any downtime could have extremely serious consequences for their service users.
IT service providers offer a range of outsource services to ensure that systems are monitored 24/7, incidents identified and resolved, as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd line service desk resolution for tickets logged by users.
As with any outsourcing partner, before entering into a contract may sure you understand the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and that you’re getting the cover and range of services you require. You may find this article about IT support service levels useful to get a better idea of what out of hours or 24/7 cover is needed in your organisation.
If you have any questions about the subjects covered in this blog post, please get in touch.