Technology is key to business success. IT can also be a source of frustration for corporate employees. A recent study found that staff lose 22 minutes per day to IT-related issues. This is more than 1.5 hours per work week and 90 hours per annum per employee in your company. This causes frustration in staff and creates problems with project management. Teams face the dilemma of having to submit unrealistic timelines in order to account for IT issues, or promising results that they don’t have.
Although IT support can bridge the gap between workers’ expectations and reality when it comes to technology, it is easy to get lost in tech talk and service hype. Here’s a simple overview of IT support levels and how they can improve project management outcomes.
Level 0: DIY
Not all IT problems require the expertise of technology experts. Support Level 0 is the concept behind it — employees can access online FAQs, wiki sites, and active forums to find the answers they need. These resources can be updated regularly to address common concerns and provide clear instructions on how to fix specific issues. Project teams can then skip the “submit ticket” step of IT troubleshooting and handle their own problems and get back to work.
Self-help is not possible in a vacuum. You will need marketing and technical staff to create and update content, a web development team for easy access to resources, and active moderators to manage forums, answer questions, and clean up old threads.
Level 1: The Help Desk
It’s what most users and project mangers think of when they hear “IT support.” Support tickets are typically submitted by customers or staff. These tickets are reviewed and dealt with by IT personnel. After Level 0 attempts to resolve the issue fail or the problem is not easily solved, tickets are created and submitted.
Level 1 requires IT staff who are skilled in both internal systems as well as project requirements. They can quickly resolve and correct any IT problems. This is the ideal situation for project managers. A team of well-equipped, knowledgeable support staff that responds quickly to immediate issues and offers advice on how to avoid future problems.
Level 2: Digging Deeper
Sometimes, even Level 1 support may not be enough. New applications can cause unexpected interactions with legacy systems, causing widespread problems. This can be problematic for project teams working under tight deadlines, especially when the app they are using is not an effective replacement. Level 2 support teams include IT specialists who can assist with specific issues related to legacy software, new software, or network connections. These IT professionals are more costly than their Level 1 counterparts but are essential to ensure large projects are on schedule and within budget.
Level 3: Down the Rabbit Hole
Even with the best efforts, Level 2 staff cannot always resolve technical issues. This is especially true if the issues are related to hard-coded behavior or limitations of current network technology. These issues are handled by ITSM professionals who have a lot of experience and expertise. Projects that require support at Level 3 often experience a slight delay. Without this support, however, projects can be stalled for several weeks or even months.
Level 4: Outside Assistance
If you need third-party software or equipment, it may be best to go outside corporate networks. This is the nature of Level 4 Support — assistance from vendors or partners who provide support for specific products and IT services.
Shifting Support
FTEs handled all IT support, except the last, historically.