Saturday, June 25, 2011

Using external support to shore up your Service Desk

You may be aware, we are in the middle of a Windows7 upgrade, which is why the recent blogs have had a leaning towards the W7 area.  When I looked at the logistics of this kind of project, I knew it was going to be a biggie - the last OS upgrade we did, the Service Desk Team worked nights and weekends to get the job done.  Two years on and the team hasn't grown, but the user base has doubled in size and the amount of applications and devices we support has also grown considerably - moving to ITIL helped with the growth of the business, but ITIL was not going to help with re-building 600 PCs.

I knew I would need all 'hands on deck' to rebuild/replace around 600 PCs in 6 months - it is not only just putting an OS on a laptop and kicking it out the door, it entails backing up the users data (this is mega in some cases), backing up their settings, favourites etc. and then putting it all back on a Windows7 platform, so that when they log on for the 1st time everything is still there - we called it the WOW Factor.  The whole process can take 5 hours or, in some cases, a whole day.

I made the decision not to use any of my existing Service Desk team, because I knew they would be best placed in supporting the user community with the little problems that always arise when this kind of change happens, I wanted the users to be able to talk to the same faces they have always done and are comfortable with.  This meant I needed some external support.

I could go down the route of hiring in three temps, but that meant I would have to train them and if one went sick or wanted vacation I would be understaffed.  There was also the consideration of the company headcount, we are tightly controlled on our headcount and it would be better to use our quota elsewhere in the business.  So my boss gave me the challenge of getting the job done without taking any more staff on.

The only avenue I could see, would be to use an outside organisation to do the migrations, in essence outsourcing the project. I racked my brains trying to think of who to use, going through the big operators like IBM or similar, then I remembered the company we use to dispose of our old IT equipment, Abcom.

As I thought about it, Abcom seemed like the perfect choice, they ticked all the boxes:

  • They we local to us
  • The guys spent every day taking apart PCs and laptops, refurbishing them for resale
  • They know how to load an OS
  • They had enough staff to cover off vacations etc.
I called Yann, the Managing Director, and we met up to discuss the project. Yann was really helpful, he quickly understood what I wanted and could see how his organisation could help us.  Within a few weeks, we had set up the project plan, we would train his guys on the intricacies of setting up our builds and they were assigned a workshop for the project.  The price was fair and as I was dealing with an external company it did not impinge on our headcount.

We are halfway through the project now and it is going really well - the Abcom team work well, they integrate with the Service Desk team, they have their own Abcom team leader, who organises the workload for each day and ensures there is enough resource for the next week, I do not have to put a lot of effort into managing them - it is a real partnership to get the job done.

Originally I had my reservations about using an external organisation, I was worried about control, quality etc. but using Abcom has changed my perspective - I now can see the benefit and I already have other projects that I think "ahh I wonder if Abcom could do that for me".

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