The IT help desk function serves as a centralized point of contact within an enterprise for on-demand information and assistance relating to common computer-related problems. IT help desks are designed to help end users resolve a whole gamut of relatively common problems such as password resets, application management issues, patch installations, bug fixes, hardware failures and other similar issues. The widespread adoption of client/server computing models has made the role of IT help desks increasingly important over the past few years. In large organizations, it is not at all uncommon these days to find IT help desks that are staffed on a 24X7 basis.

Yet, despite the vital role that help desks can play, research has consistently shown that more than 70 percent of the problems received and resolved by help desk staff are repetitive and routine issues that can be handled via automation or through outsourcing. This realization has driven a growing number of businesses, especially small and medium firms, to outsource their help desk functions to specialized third-party firms. Such outsourcing can help companies in multiple ways.

For instance, often the companies that offer outsourced IT help desk services are specialized firms with state-of-the-art IT infrastructures and support staff. Many outsourcing firms these days offer 24/7 phone and Web-based support as well as on-site visits and remote troubleshooting and problem-resolving capabilities. Larger outsourcing companies have offices in multiple locations and are able to deliver help desk services to companies regardless of where they might be located.

Often, outsourcing firms give customers a range of service options they can choose from to suit their budgets and requirements. For instance, a company might choose to opt for a dedicated 24/7 IT help desk function. In such situations, the outsourcing company will set aside a specific number of staff and resources to address solely the needs of that client. In other cases, an outsourcing firm might deliver help desk services as part of a broader palette of network and desktop management services. The more established and reputable firms also offer service level agreements and rapid response guarantees that companies can take advantage to ensure they are getting optimum service.

Importantly, since many outsourcing firms use the same IT resources and staff to support multiple clients, they are able to leverage economies of scale. As a result, outsourcing firms are typically able to offer help desk services for substantially less than what it would cost to deliver it in-house.

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