IT support refers to various services that commercial organizations or entities offer to end users of computer software or hardware products. In simple terms, IT support simply offers assistance regarding particular technical issues with hardware or software, rather than offering customized training, modification or other technical support services. The need for IT support, therefore, arises when the hardware or software is malfunctioning or cannot be used as expected. IT support thus covers a wide range of services, including software and hardware repair. It also covers support for networks, servers, switches, mobile devices and embedded systems. While this may sound like a pretty broad scope, it still allows IT support providers to focus on only those aspects of an organization that requires specialized knowledge in order to resolve a problem.
The need for IT support is most apparent in organizations that are transitioning to new technology.
For example, when companies decide to purchase computers based on the Windows operating system, they need IT professionals to install the software and set up the hardware components. Without IT professionals, companies would have to hire a mass number of low-level technicians, who might not be trained in new technology or computer systems. IT support therefore covers the full gamut of equipment setup and maintenance. This includes hardware such as computers and printers, network setups and maintenance, troubleshooting processes and training. Furthermore, some IT support firms specialize in providing software and applications training.
IT support technicians use different IT support approaches. One approach is the loners. These technicians specialize in helping their own coworkers. The advantage to this approach is that the technician can learn about new technologies without involving the rest of the staff, which has the potential of hampering IT training. Another approach is the self-help approach. This type of IT support personnel use manuals and Internet tutorials to provide technical support to clients.
Some companies employ IT support personnel who use knowledge management strategies. Knowledge management is a process of acquiring and maintaining the best practices in IT operations. IT support techs can incorporate knowledge management activities into their service offerings. This ensures that customers get the best value for their money by receiving training in the latest applications and technologies. Companies can employ either a tiered technical support or knowledge management, IT support approach.
IT support companies can also provide managed services using IT resources from various locations. This provides local and remote IT support by employing IT resources from different locations. For instance, a U.S. company may have IT support staff stationed in Canada, while a Chinese company may have IT support personnel based in the Philippines. This enables companies to receive the best expertise in computer systems by employing personnel from various locations.
Many companies offer a managed service model,
which means that they utilize IT support staff with specialized training. IT support technicians are sent from the company to a location to perform the specific tasks related to a customer’s needs. The technician will demonstrate the basic level of IT knowledge and troubleshooting skills required to resolve issues. When a problem is encountered, the technician will diagnose it and offer advice based on their training and experience. When problems are not resolved correctly, support levels in IT departments will evaluate the situation and make a determination on the next course of action. Support levels might send a specialist or an entire team of IT support technicians to resolve a specific problem.
- One IT support system uses two tiers of technicians.
- The first tier provides technical support for medium-sized problems and can be called on at any time to provide support for a particular program or application.
- The second tier consists of technicians who are proficient at managing a large volume of calls and are called on only when a critical issue occurs.
Some companies prefer to deploy both tiers to assure that they have the appropriate people on hand to address any type of problem.
In addition to having one or two tiers of technicians, some companies have a third tier of technicians who provide support on a semi-custom basis. The cost of deploying this third tier is dependent upon the size of the business and the needs of its customers. Information technology support is a growing field, and companies who adopt this method of operation can provide IT support at a more affordable level. Implementing an IT support system can be very effective, but only if companies deploy the right processes.