IT Support Levels: Breaking It Down

Technology drives business success. But IT is also the source of significant corporate frustration — as noted by a recent study, staff members lose 22 minutes on average every day dealing with IT-related issues. That’s more than 1.5 hours per week and 90 hours per year, per person across your organization. This results in staff frustration and project management problems. Teams are faced with the prospect of either submitting exaggerated timelines to account for IT issues or promising results they know they can’t deliver.

While better IT support can help bridge the gap between what workers expect technology to do and what actually happens when they try to access corporate networks or leverage new applications, it’s easy to get bogged down in tech talk and service hype. Here’s a straightforward look at IT support levels and how they can help boost project management outcomes.

Level 0: DIY

Not all IT issues require the help of technology experts. That’s the idea behind support Level 0 — employees find the information they need to solve problems by accessing online FAQs, wiki sites or actively maintained forums. If these resources are regularly updated to reflect common concerns and include straightforward instructions to resolve specific issues, project teams can often skip the “submit a ticket ” step of IT troubleshooting, handle their own challenges and get back to work.

Of course, self-help doesn’t happen in a vacuum: You need technical and marketing staff to create and update current content, a web development team to make sure the resources are easy to access and use, and active moderators who can curate forum content, respond to questions and clean up old threads.

Level 1: The Help Desk

It’s what most users and project managers think of when they hear the term “IT support. ” Typically, staff or customers submit support tickets that are reviewed and addressed by IT personnel. Tickets are created and submitted after Level 0 attempts fail to resolve the issue or the problem doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix.

Level 1 response requires trained IT staff with knowledge of both internal systems and specific project requirements who can quickly address and correct IT issues. The ideal situation for project managers? Well-staffed, knowledgeable support teams that respond quickly, address immediate issues and offer advice on avoiding future problems.

Level 2: Digging Deeper

In some cases, even Level 1 support isn’t enough. For example, new applications may cause unexpected interactions with legacy systems, prompting widespread issues. This is problematic for project teams with tight deadlines, especially if the app they’re using has no effective replacement. Level 2 support teams are staffed with IT specialists who can help address specific issues related to legacy applications, new software or network connections. These IT pros are more expensive than their Level 1 counterparts, but are necessary to keep large projects on time and on budget.

Level 3: Down the Rabbit Hole

Despite best efforts, even Level 2 staff can’t always resolve highly technical issues, especially if these issues are tied to hard-coded behavior in applications or the limitations of current network technology. Here, issues are handled by ITSM professionals with significant depth of experience and expertise, such as the original creators or developers of apps and services. If support needs progress to Level 3, projects typically experience a slight delay; without this kind of support, however, projects could be stalled for weeks or months.

Level 4: Outside Assistance

When it comes to third-party equipment or software, going outside corporate networks may be the only choice. That’s the nature of Level 4 support — assistance from vendors and partners that provide support for specific products or IT services.

Shifting Support

Historically, all but the last tier of IT support was handled in-house by FTEs, but thanks to a maturing cloud market and improved network infrastructure, it’s now possible to outsource every level of support, effectively giving you the outcomes of internal coverage at a fraction of the cost. This is good news for project management staff often constrained by limited budgets and schedules. If support is available on demand, 24/7/365 from expert outside providers, it’s possible to address IT issues anytime, anywhere without breaking the bank.

IT issues waste time, which impacts project deadlines. Tiered IT support ensures that problems are quickly and effectively addressed; opting for outsourced expertise helps reduce time-to-resolution and get projects back on track.

Provided by Column Technologies

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