IT Could Use More Support

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-08-29

If employees in your organization are so familiar with the 'Please Continue to Hold' help desk hold music they're starting to make special requests, it should come as no surprise to you that CIOs agree that IT could use more support.

In fact, IT help desks are not just understaffed, but significantly so: 1,400 CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology, a Menlo Park technology recruiting firm, said that their companies' technical support teams are, on average, 40 percent smaller than they optimally should be.

Though 136:1 was the mean ratio of internal users to technical support employees at these CIOs organizations, 82:1 to one was what they considered ideal.

The outlook was brighter among CIOs in the largest companies (with greater than 1,000 employees), with a ratio of 118:1. But in midsize firms (250 to 499 employees) the ratio of support staff to employees in need was a dismal 131:1. In a perfect world, CIOs said, it would be 64:1.

"Many managers, particularly those with organizations experiencing growth, are realizing their technical support or help desk teams can no longer keep up with increasing end-user needs," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

"An understaffed technical support function can lead to a frustrated and less productive workforce, which ultimately affects the company's bottom line."

However, a second study released this week focused on improving IT support considers shifting from a standardized "one size fits all" for IT support services to flexible strategies that prioritize employees who work directly with clients or are tied most closely to driving revenue.

This study by IDG Research Services on behalf of Unisys found that the U.S. lagged behind the rest of the world in adopting these newer support processes. Only 46 percent of U.S. respondents said that their organizations had increased IT support to users over the last five years, while 55 percent worldwide had done so.

The study also argued that U.S. enterprises were behind the global curve in capitalizing on some options that provide skilled support at lower cost, whether outside or within the U.S. that would work complementary to the in-person services.

"U.S. enterprises, like those all around the world, have a tremendous opportunity to gain a competitive edge by accelerating adoption of innovative processes..." said Joe Hogan, vice president of Strategic Outsourcing Programs at Unisys. "They need to start now."

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