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Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

Reactive to Strategic-Help Desk and Customer Service

Help desks and customer service organizations that have successfully journeyed from being reactive to being strategic generally follow a similar path. Often the steps include the following:

> Develop a call reduction strategy. The most common approach to call reduction is root-cause analysis; a process designed to eliminate the source of key problems. Root-cause analysis, which ought to be undertaken monthly, categorizes calls by type and technology and then discovers common causes for those calls. Next it acts to diminish the number of future calls by refining user training or the development of new online help screens. For example, one help desk found that new employees called the help desk an average of four times per month, while those who had worked at the company for a year or more averaged only one call per month. By providing a half-hour IT orientation to all new employees, the help desk reduced call volume from new users by 60 percent. But don't overlook the obvious. Another help desk reduced incoming calls by nearly 5 percent just by informing callers how their problems had been solved. The next time users encountered the same problem, they were able to solve it without the help desk.

> Free agents to work on call abatement projects. Since abatement projects are the heavy-lifting task of call desk centers, they need to be undertaken well out of earshot of ringing phones. The most common excuse for agents being unavailable for planning is they are trapped in 911 mode. To release agents for call abatement, try to assign additional resources to staffing on the phones or else be prepared for a short-term increase in the call volume can be reduced. Contractors can be particularly useful as a stopgap resource for answering telephones while regular agents focus on call reduction efforts.

 

See the following link for a great White Paper on the topic:

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/index.htm

Needs Assessment Tool- IT Help Desk/Customer Service Cloud

A lot of software licenses are not used and become "Shelfware" because the needs of the purchaser changed or the software never delivered what the purchaser expected.  Often, the purchaser thinks that they know what they need as far as feature requirements, but after implementation they can not get their employees or customers engaged to use the application.  Also, in time their needs change and the product the bought has not evolved to meet their changing needs.

In summary, there is a lot of risk in purchasing software. Consider if the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model may help your organization minimize risk and decrease the lifetime TCO of an application.

 

Request a Free Needs Assessment your Help Desk or Customer Service Software Requirements

Web IT Help Desk Cloud Software-Calculate TCO

Giva provides some valuable tools to help you better understand the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of owning software applications and comparing it to the SaaS approach.

The purchase price of software licenses and annual maintenance fees you pay a vendor are a very small component of the true TCO.

Hardware, databases and related purchases are important to consider, but they are not as large as the actual labor required to manage and maintain the application and the infrastructure. Gartner Group estimates some of these costs and Giva will provide them to you in an Excel spreadsheet if you request a TCO analysis.

Labor is an enormous component that is always over looked and universally underestimated due to human bias. It's often hard for IT people to admit that an outside vendor can do a better job and be more cost effective. The fact is that SaaS vendors have enormous scale and efficiencies of building, managing, maintaining and hosting an application for 100,000s of users vs. your company trying to do the same for your IT department which is of course many many orders of magnitude smaller.

When your CIO says, "we have plenty of IT people to do all this work", respond by saying, "Let's look at your list of IT projects for the last 12 month...are you ahead or behind schedule?" Invariably, you will find that they are significantly behind schedule on many key revenue impact projects because the IT dept is spending a lot of time just to keep the infrastructure up and running instead of focusing on strategic projects that impact/generate revenue to the company.  As you well know, a help desk/customer service organization does not generate revenue for a company.

 

Request a Free TCO Comparing Your Help Desk or Customer Service Software vs. Giva

Build or Buy an IT Help Desk? Part 3

Here are the Last Few Reasons You Should Purchase a Help Desk/Customer Service Software Package.

Of course, with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) can save you a lot of money and SaaS vendors can get you up and running faster than deploying software on your own infrastructure. Our main point is that building your own help desk or customer service application really makes little economic sense. There are many products that are commercially available. Surely, there are a number of products that can meet your needs. We see many companies live to regret trying to build and maintain a product on their own.

Reason Four: You will have access to patches, updates, user groups, updated documentation, and technical support when the product is released and when you need it.

Reason Three: No matter how good the training, and no matter how great the documentation, sooner or later you will need to call the vendor’s technical support. This need usually arises at the worst possible time and inevitably involves a customer. Developers are busy people and you have to ask yourself if the in-house developers will be available when you need them. Most vendors have help desks that are open 24/7 and are literally waiting for your call.

Reason Two: Updates. A purchased product is continually updated, debugged and readied for your immediate use. With an in-house product your staff will usually be debugging the update after it is installed. This is not fair to your staff, your customers, or your boss.

Reason One: You can purchase, train on and implement a purchased product in a fraction of the time it takes to design, code, document, train on and implement an in-house product. A software development project can easily take on a life of its own and by developing an in-house product you are competing with paying customers. Unless you work for one of those unique companies mentioned earlier and unless your help desk can command the resources it needs, when it needs them, the chances are that in-house development will be prohibitively costly, time consuming, frustrating to train on and difficult to implement.

See our white papers at https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/index.htm

Build or Buy an IT Help Desk Cloud Application? Part 2

In a poor economy, we get this question a lot. What should I do, build or buy a help desk or customer service application?

Here are the Top Ten Reasons You Should Purchase a Help Desk Software Package:

Reason Seven: Help desk software packages can be easily customized to meet your support operation’s unique needs. You won’t get this capability in an in-house product without a great deal of extra work and time.

Reason Six: The product you purchase will have voluminous documentation that is both technical and end-user oriented. It may even have CBT disks available and will certainly have on-site as well as off-site training programs available to train your staff. An in-house product will rarely have such documentation.

Reason Five: The documentation and training will be at least three times better with a purchased product than it will be with an in-house product. You will not have to compete with the internal documentation and training staff that get paid to serve paying customers.

See our white papers at https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/index.htm

Build or Buy an IT Help Desk Product?

In a poor economy, we get this question a lot. What should I do, build or buy a help desk or customer service application?

What Do You Get With A Purchased Product?
The short answer is, a lot. Help desk software vendors spend millions of dollars and months of effort in determining what features go into their products. In addition, their sales, marketing, and technical support staffs have an intimate knowledge of help desk operations, trends, and requirements.

Here are the Top Ten Reasons You Should Purchase a Help Desk Software Package:

Reason Ten: The product already exists and you won’t have to spend time, money and political capital negotiating with a development executive to liberate already scarce resources.

Reason Nine: The vendor you choose has an understanding of how help desks work and what they need in a software package. Developers don’t always have this understanding and explaining it to them can take time, and time is money.

Reason Eight: Almost every help desk software package in the world can be purchased in modules. You can add and delete modules based upon your business needs and budget.

 

See our white papers at https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/index.htm

How to save money with cloud applications?

  • A specialized software provider can target global markets: A company that made software for human resource management at boutique hotels might once have had a hard time finding enough of a market to sell its applications. But a hosted application can instantly reach the entire market, making specialization within a vertical not only possible, but preferable. This in turn means that SaaS providers can often deliver products that meet their markets’ needs more closely than traditional “shrinkwrap” vendors could.
  • Web systems are reliable enough: Despite sporadic outages and slow-downs, most people are willing to use the public Internet, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and the TCP/IP stack to deliver business functions to end users.
  • Security is sufficiently well trusted and transparent: With the broad adoption of SSL, organizations have a way of reaching their applications without the complexity and burden of end-user configurations or VPNs.
  • Availability of enablement technology: According to IDC, organizations developing enablement technology that allow other vendors to quickly build SaaS applications will be important in driving adoption. Because of SaaS' relative infancy, many companies have either built enablement tools or platforms or are in the process of engineering enablement tools or platforms. A Saugatuck study shows that the industry will most likely converge to three or four enablers that will act as SaaS Integration Platforms (SIPs).
  • Wide Area Network's bandwidth has grown drastically following Moore's Law (more than 100% increase each 24 months) and is about to reach slow local networks bandwidths. Added to network quality of service improvement this has driven people and companies to trustfully access remote locations and applications with low latencies and acceptable speeds.
  • Save Money with Cloud Software

    The traditional rationale for outsourcing of IT systems is that by applying economies of scale to the operation of applications, a service provider can offer better, cheaper, more reliable applications than companies can themselves. The use of SaaS-based applications has grown dramatically, as reported by many of the analyst firms that cover the sector. But it’s only in recent years that SaaS has truly flourished. Several important changes to the way we work have made this rapid acceptance possible.
    • Everyone has a computer: Most information workers have access to a computer and are familiar with conventions from mouse usage to web interfaces. As a result, the learning curve for new, external applications is lower and less hand-holding by internal IT is needed.
    • Computing itself is a commodity: In the past, corporate mainframes were jealously guarded as strategic advantages. More recently, the applications were viewed as strategic. Today, people know it’s the business processes and the data itself—customer records, workflows, and pricing information—that matters. Computing and application licenses are cost centers, and as such, they’re suitable for cost reduction and outsourcing. The adoption of SaaS could also drive Internet-scale to become a commodity.
    • Insourcing IT systems requires expensive overhead including salaries, health care, liability and physical building space.
    • Applications are standardized: With some notable, industry-specific exceptions, most people spend most of their time using standardized applications. An expense reporting page, an applicant screening tool, a spreadsheet, or an e-mail system are all sufficiently ubiquitous and well understood that most users can switch from one system to another easily. This is evident from the number of web-based calendaring, spreadsheet, and e-mail systems that have emerged in recent years.
    • Parametric applications are usable: In older applications, the only way to change a workflow was to modify the code. But in more recent applications, particularly web-based ones, significantly new applications can be created from parameters and macros. This allows organizations to create many different kinds of business logic atop a common application platform. Many SaaS providers allow a wide range of customization within a basic set of functions.

    Cloud Software Hosting Alternatives

    According to Microsoft, cloud architectures generally can be classified as belonging to one of four "maturity levels," whose key attributes are configurability, multi-tenant efficiency, and scalability. Each level is distinguished from the previous one by the addition of one of those three attributes:
    • Level 1 - Ad-Hoc/Custom: At the first level of maturity, each customer has its own customized version of the hosted application and runs its own instance of the application on the host's servers. Migrating a traditional non-networked or client-server application to this level of SaaS typically requires the least development effort and reduces operating costs by consolidating server hardware and administration.
    • Level 2 - Configurable: The second maturity level provides greater program flexibility through configurable metadata, so that many customers can use separate instances of the same application code. This allows the vendor to meet the different needs of each customer through detailed configuration options, while simplifying maintenance and updating of a common code base.
    • Level 3 - Configurable, Multi-Tenant-Efficient: The third maturity level adds multi-tenancy to the second level, so that a single program instance serves all customers. This approach enables more efficient use of server resources without any apparent difference to the end user, but ultimately is limited in its scalability.
    • Level 4 - Scalable, Configurable, Multi-Tenant-Efficient: At the fourth and final SaaS maturity level, scalability is added through a multitier architecture supporting a load-balanced farm of identical application instances, running on a variable number of servers. The system's capacity can be increased or decreased to match demand by adding or removing servers, without the need for any further alteration of application software architecture.

    Virtualization also may be used in SaaS architectures, either in addition to multi-tenancy, or in place of it. One of the principal benefits of virtualization is that it can increase the system's capacity without additional programming. On the other hand, a considerable amount of programming may be required to construct a more efficient, multi-tenant application. Combining multi-tenancy and virtualization provides still greater flexibility to tune the system for optimal performance. In addition to full operating system-level virtualization, other virtualization techniques applied to SaaS include application virtualization and virtual appliances.

    Various types of software components and frameworks may be employed in the development of SaaS applications. These tools can reduce the time to market and cost of converting a traditional on-premise software product or building and deploying a new SaaS solution. Examples include components for subscription management, grid computing software, web application frameworks, and complete SaaS platform products.

    Cloud Software Key Characteristics

    The key characteristics of cloud software, according to IDC, include:
    • network-based access to, and management of, commercially available software
    • activities that are managed from central locations rather than at each customer's site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web
    • application delivery that typically is closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics
    • centralized feature updating, which obviates the need for downloadable patches and upgrades.
    • Cloud is often used in a larger network of communicating software - either as part of a mashup or as a plugin to a platform as a service. Service oriented architecture is naturally more complex than traditional models of software deployment.

    Cloud applications are generally priced on a per-user basis, sometimes with a relatively small minimum number of users and often with additional fees for extra bandwidth and storage. Cloud revenue streams to the vendor are therefore lower initially than traditional software license fees, but are also recurring, and therefore viewed as more predictable, much like maintenance fees for licensed software.

    In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, Cloud software turns the tragedy of the commons on its head and frequently has these additional benefits:

    • More feature requests from users since there is frequently no marginal cost for requesting new features;
    • Faster releases of new features since the entire community of users benefits from new functionality; and
    • The embodiment of recognized best practices since the community of users drives the software publisher to support the best practice.

     

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