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Ask an MSP ExpertQ: My managed service business is at a stage where we need more technicians to focus on resolving support tickets and provide help desk support. I am debating between hiring a Level 1 help desk agent or outsource to a NOC and Help Desk firm. What are the pros and cons of outsourcing my NOC and Help Desk services?

Many managed service providers (MSPs) are often faced with this question. Network Operations Center (NOC) and help desk services can be the bread and butter of an MSP’s service offering. Help Desk services specifically, can play a key part in customer retention. A good experience with a help desk can build a stronger customer relationship, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

However, hiring additional technicians to fulfill a NOC and Help Desk services roles can have its challenges. Aside from the capital cost this adds to the MSP business, which can impact cash flow, these roles can be difficult to recruit for. The perfect candidate needs to be able to fill a tier 1 support role and be technically skilled, but also have excellent customer service skills and the ability to handle your customers’ frustrations in a friendly, helpful, and tactful manner.

Is it time to outsource your NOC and Help Desk?

Before making the switch to outsourcing your NOC and Help Desk services, here are a few things to consider:

How many of your customers are subscribed or will subscribe to NOC and Help Desk services?

One of the key considerations you should keep in mind is whether you can support the cost of hiring more technicians and still be profitable. If you have several customers who are subscribed to these services and the cost of hiring technicians can be covered, you may want to keep the service in-house, as you will have more control over the quality.

However, if you are just starting to offer these services or if you have been leveraging your existing technicians to fulfill this role while working on other strategic projects at the same time, you will find that hiring new technicians is costly. In addition to the actual cost, there are also soft costs associated with a new hire. The soft costs includes benefits and insurance, training them on the tools you use, and overhead costs such as IT equipment, mileage, etc. Combined, these costs can amount to a significant increase from what what you had previously planned to invest in this new position. 

When you outsource NOC and Help Desk services, there are set costs as well. Most outsourced NOC and Help Desk services firms have a setup or onboarding cost on top of the standard cost per device and help desk support per customer. It is easy to calculate the total cost to your business of offering these services and the desired margin you wish to earn before submitting quotes to customers.

If you use a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, your RMM vendor should be able to offer you a recommendation because they often provide these services or work with a few that are familiar with their tool.

What is your growth strategy?

As an MSP, it is important to have a strategy and plan to grow your business. Your focus could be on cybersecurity, digital transformation, or a specific vertical. Having a dedicated in-house NOC and Help Desk services could be an essential component of that strategy.

As you ramp up to execute your strategy, starting with an outsourced NOC and Help Desk service can offer you flexibility. By leveraging the skills and expertise of outsourced NOC and Help Desk services, you can establish the customer base first before committing to setting up your own service. In some cases, MSPs have found that the outsourced NOC and Help Desk firm becomes a true partner in delivering this service.

Perhaps the most important consideration is how you would like to scale your NOC and help desk services. A full team is required to ensure you have proper coverage for sick and vacation days. Having an outsourced NOC and Help Desk firm ensures that you have coverage based on the agreed upon SLA, without any human resource hassles.

There are many benefits to outsourcing your NOC and help desk services, but it is important to tie it back to your business needs and growth strategy. If you choose to outsource, make sure to speak with your existing technology vendors and see what they offer. It’s almost always better to work with existing vendors than to start from scratch establishing a new relationship.

Photo: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

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Doris Au

Posted by Doris Au

Doris is a product marketing manager at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she is responsible for connecting managed service providers with multi-layered security and data protection products that can protect their customers from today’s advanced cyber threats.

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