Helpdesk costs hiding shadows and icebergs

Most end users are guilty of it — instead of going to the IT helpdesk in their organization, they go to the resident IT guru who just happens to sit two desks away.

But that’s not all they are guilty of. This method of getting IT problems addressed is actually costing organizations money.

Meta Group research director Kevin McIsaac calls it a “shadow IT cost”.

“You know the story. There is someone in the office who is not in the IT department, but knows a lot about IT,” McIsaac said.

“Using this guy as a resource is known as a shadow cost of IT. We talk a lot about the cost of IT, but not about the cost of someone yelling out across the office ‘hey John, how do you do x?’

“This is a hidden IT cost, because dealing with this sort of query is not in the IT budget, but it is a cost to the business, and organizations have to be careful about this.”

Better training for employees in all areas of IT can make all the difference and is an effective way to drive down costs, McIsaac says. “How well internal processes are run can definitely impact the cost of IT queries. Apparently, 15 percent of helpdesk calls are related to password resets, with application queries coming second. These are basically training-related issues,” McIsaac said.

Dimension Data learning solutions general manager Steve Ross agrees that for many workers the first line of IT support is the person sitting next to you.

Ross calls it the “iceberg effect”.

“It’s the iceberg effect, as it can prove to be a hidden cost. For many employees, the person next to them is the first port of call with an IT query,” Ross said.

“This particular person shows the employee how to do something, but doesn’t actually teach them. Then the next month that same employee needs to be shown again.

“When someone starts at a new organization, their skills should be assessed and their training gap should be bridged before they are allowed to work on a new system.”

Ross believes appropriate training equals improved productivity.

“Productivity can be improved by staff having better skills. Also, if the people who work in productivity skills don’t have the skills, then the people they manage suffer as well,” Ross said.

“Training is effective when run properly, but the problem is that a lot of people learn skills they will never use. Employees should really only be learning what is relevant to their job.”

To tackle this problem, Dimension Data Learning Solutions carries out skills-based applications training to address only what each employee needs to learn.

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