While the devices and technologies in your classrooms and offices increase flexibility and productivity, they also greatly increase user expectations. Educators, administrators and students alike expect tools to be always on and working properly. It can be challenging for education IT teams to expand the scope of tech support services to be both proactive and responsive to all of your end user needs.
Identify User Types & Needs
- Define your different user types and the jobs they perform such as data-intensive workers like records managers vs superintendents who might need to work remotely. Do some of your users have a need for very fast problem resolution or other special requirements?
- What common issues can be solved by internal staff and do you have clear processes to determine when outside support services are needed?
- When did you last conduct a cost/benefit analysis of internal and external support resources?
- If you issue computers to students, what type of support should they expect?
Weigh the Pros & Cons
Time & Money: Downtime can impact learning outcomes and staff morale.
Internal Support: An onsite team can provide instant support to resolve issues, reduce downtime and get employees and students back in action faster. However, if unique problems occur (or if issues arise during non-office hours) downtime can be significantly longer.
External Support: While an external support team (outsourced or direct) can often provide more in-depth experience with varied issues, there are still downfalls:
- Outsourced IT agency support takes on a breadth of HW and SW issues, tends to be more expensive, and may still defer to vendors and manufacturers to really solve problems.
- Direct support from manufacturers often focuses only on their own products and will send your IT support staff through loops of scripted support before getting to the real issue.
Develop a Blended Support Strategy
Relying entirely on internal support teams or outsourced IT agencies or direct support from manufacturers all have their limitations. In most cases a blend of these resources is the optimal way to deliver great service while controlling costs. Outsourced IT agencies can be a valuable resource, but we recommend minimizing use of such agencies for low-level and simple support needs.
Instead, look to augment your internal team by asking manufacturers if they offer prioritized support services. Typically low cost, these can free up your internal staff from administrative and low-level technical support tasks without going to outsourced IT agencies.
Questions to ask your IT equipment suppliers:
- Ask to have only advanced technicians serving your account; those who can provide professional, unscripted diagnosis without needing to go through basic FAQs or telephone queues.
- Do they offer onsite diagnosis and repair services?
- Could they support your most commonly used software; answering employees' basic how-to questions or assisting with hot fixes and patches?
- Demand a single point of contact for simplified end-to-end case management.