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Is Your IT Help Desk Overwhelmed?

The IT help desk can be an unforgiving job. In a 2019 survey by Ponemon Institute, 73% of 1,400 IT professionals believed their IT department was understaffed due to difficulty in attracting and retaining skilled engineers. Often, IT professionals work longer hours to manage the ever-increasing requests from frustrated users. A study of 38 cybersecurity professionals reported that their average weekly workloads required 64.5 hours to manage projects in theory, but in practice estimated 73.5 hours. The Ponemon Institute stated that 65% of IT professionals quit because of burnout.

But that was before 2020.

Since the shift to a largely remote workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 37% of IT professionals have seen an increase in their workload, according to a survey of 1,600 IT professionals. Additionally, 39% of the IT professionals experienced a rise in the number of incidents and support requests. The potential for IT engineer burnout is higher than ever before.

Here are some signs that your business’ IT help desk is overwhelmed.

Response time takes a few days

A sure sign that your IT help desk is struggling is its response rate. The average internal IT help desk receives 492 tickets per month with an average first response time of 28.7 hours, according to Zendesk. If your help desk is responding after two or three days, then the IT engineers are likely juggling countless tickets of varying complexity. Another telltale sign is how quickly the help desk gets new employees set up and vacancies secured. If a new employee starts their first day with no necessary devices or has issues logging in, the potentially already nervous new hire may feel even more stressed or uncomfortable or begin to question their decision to join your company. As for exiting employees, whether the person left the company on good terms or not, it is best practice to swiftly secure the device, erase logins, and remove access to data and applications. This routine is especially crucial with the current remote workforce where devices may remain in the possession of ex-employees for days or even weeks at a time. Companies and employees value immediate response times to ensure the security and continuity of their business. If your IT help desk cannot establish new hires or secure exiting employees in a prompt manner, then they are likely too overwhelmed with the countless tickets and IT projects also demanding their time.

There is no redundancy

For many small and medium-sized businesses, the IT help desk is a one-person band. The tickets, the projects, the devices all start and stop with this one very capable, very brave individual who took up the torch. But what if they go on vacation? For two weeks. On a remote island to completely disconnect. And then your server crashes from a phishing attack. What then? Who are you going to call?

With a one-person team or even two-to-three-person team, there may be no redundancy plan if one is on vacation, another out sick, and the last stuck on the tarmac for four hours of Monday morning because they chose to fly a budget airline for a “quick” weekend getaway. Small teams often have a single point of failure with no recuperation strategy if the IT help desk is MIA—and as luck would have it, that’s usually when things hit the fan.

Resolution time takes longer than it should

In addition to too few staff and too many tickets, skillset is also a driving factor in an IT help desk’s ability—or inability—to meet users’ needs. Much like doctors, whether they are a surgeon or a cardiologist, engineers have their own disciplines like cloud architect or cybersecurity professional. Hiring a few internal IT staff may be insufficient to meet all the needs of your business because those new hires likely do not possess enough cross-discipline expertise amongst them. Finding desired skills in emerging areas comprises 52% of the factors driving a difficult hiring environment in the IT industry, according to CompTIA. Additionally, a limited pool of available workers in a region accounts for 35% of the hiring difficulty. If the IT help desk is not equipped with the necessary expertise, it may take longer to resolve one IT issue while others pile up around it.

Projects fail and/or deadlines are missed

In a study of 38 IT professionals, 55% felt that their workload “rarely” or “never” supported a level of performance that was sustainable. Insufficient time, resources, and training impacted their ability to turnaround a high volume of tickets quickly and accurately. As a result, 47.4% acknowledged that at least half of their projects failed or missed timelines. These errors could lead to system downtime or security breaches that cost your business revenue and incur compliance fees. If a company does not have a dedicated team for the help desk, but instead just one skilled engineer, that individual will have to do the work of multiple engineers. Let’s say a Los Angeles company pays their Senior Network Engineer a yearly salary of $118,000, but they’re forced to spend half their time resetting passwords or performing daily monitoring on infrastructure. That company would be wasting the talent of that engineer, who could easily find a better use of their time and provide a better service to the company by migrating the legacy systems to cloud infrastructure or establishing cybersecurity defenses against financial data breaches. No matter how talented that one engineer may be, the daily operations of an SMB will limit their bandwidth, increasing risk of failed projects, missed deadlines, and potentially disastrous incidents.

Long-term strategic planning is minimal

Understaffed, overworked, and buried under tickets, an internal IT help desk may be just staying afloat. Time and resources are allocated to responding to present IT concerns and incidents with little energy spent planning for the future. If they are always putting out the fires, then they will never have the time to take proactive steps, like system maintenance, that would prevent forthcoming fires. With limited time, an engineer may not make regular audits of the infrastructure, identifying weaknesses, installing patches and software updates, and ensuring the overall health of the IT systems. Without long-term strategic planning, the IT help desk will constantly perform reactively rather than proactively.

Plagued by long hours, insufficient resources, and high turnover, the IT help desk is a challenging position that can easily burnout IT professionals. An overwhelmed help desk leads to deficient response time and inaccuracies that could prove costly for your business.

So, the question is no longer “Is your IT help desk overwhelmed?” but:

“What do you do now?”

A managed service provider (MSP) can augment a business’ IT help desk to prevent burnout, improve end user experience, and provide 24/7/365 support to keep your business functioning all day. At NexusTek, an award-winning MSP, we understand the pressures placed on internal IT and are equipped to successfully complement your team.

Focused on delivering supreme customer service, we establish our mean time to engineer (MTTE) and mean time to resolution (MTTR) goals with responsiveness targets optimized for customer satisfaction. Our 300 staff possess various certifications in specialized disciplines across IT, cybersecurity, cloud computing, business continuity, and more to assist with any number of simple or complex information technology concerns. Our IT help desk and 24/7 Network Operations Centers (NOCs) are equipped to handle all your business’ low-priority tickets while your IT team focuses on strategic projects or vice versa.

One of our skilled dedicated engineers can be scheduled once a day, week, or month or fulfill a certain number of pre-determined hours to supplement an internal IT team and help improve project success rate and meet deadlines. Our virtual CIOs (vCIOs) provide technology leadership, trends insight, and strategic IT planning to help your business proactively update and secure applications and data against changing demands.

Across our 300 staff, NexusTek has the talent, depth, and breadth to apply specialized skills and sufficient time to make your business’ IT needs a priority.

Take the quiz to find out if your IT help desk is overwhelmed.