What is IT Support?

Understanding the role and function of IT Support.

what is IT support infographics

About the term

The term IT support might seem unclear to many, mainly due to its usage in various contexts. Users often mix the word with ITSM (IT service management) and IT service desk. Managers use these terms interchangeably to name different parts of their IT infrastructure. It is essential to know the definition and tell the differences between ITSM, IT service desk, and IT support to allocate resources in your organization effectively. Let’s take a brief dive into terminology.

The image provides a visual comparison of IT support, ITSM, and IT service desk. It shows that IT support is focused on providing technical help and knowledge to individuals or organizations, while ITSM is a framework that includes best practices and tips on how to build and distribute IT services effectively.

IT support vs. ITSM vs. IT service desk

Cambridge Dictionary defines IT support as “technical help or knowledge provided by computing experts” or “a team or department in a company or organization that provides technical help to people who have problems with its computer systems.”

Now let’s compare it with ITSM. IT service management is a framework including best practices and tips on how to build an IT system and effectively distribute IT services in an organization. In contrast, IT support is more about the practice of IT services distribution and maintenance. ITSM also provides advice on how to run your IT support.

While ITSM gives recommendations and IT support is a practice, the IT service desk is a tool used by both. It’s a point of contact between users of the IT services and the IT team. IT service desk facilitates effective  IT service delivery.

The history of IT support

IT support has a long history that began when people started using computers in the workplace. Since then, the scope of this corporate function has grown significantly and changed to follow the changes in how workers use computers. It expanded its scope to include a range of services beyond just computer hardware maintenance. Nowadays, IT support provides various services, such as hardware and software support, network administration, cybersecurity, and end-user support.

What are the functions of IT support

In modern organizations, IT support has several important functions that help ensure the smooth operation of their technology infrastructure. These functions usually include:

Assisting employees with tech-related matters

The critical function of IT support is to catch the end-users at any point where they need help in their interaction with IT infrastructure. First, this includes reactive measures responding to the occurring technical issues. Moreover, IT support can also provide preventative solutions such as system updates and best practice training to keep the IT system easy to use and up-to-date.

Maintaining security

In recent years, the ability to keep your data and assets secure has become more valuable than ever. This is largely due to the ever-increasing risks and costs of cybersecurity breaches. For example, Cost of a Data Breach report published by IBM estimated that the average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high in 2022 at $4.35 million. Cybersecurity measures of IT support include employee training, internal incident response plan testing, antivirus software maintenance, and data backup.

Employee education and training

When the company purchases new software or the IT team updates some technical procedures, it might seriously influence employees’ daily routines. For example, how should the marketing team use the new email agent for their weekly email newsletter? How to transfer data from the previously used warehouse database to the new one? In all this, IT support can and should educate employees. This maximizes the potential benefits of the technology stack utilized by the company.

Promoting tools for the automation of routine processes

IT support often leads promotion of automation across an organization. The benefits of automation of repetitive or manual tasks are tangible immediately.

Best practices of IT support

IT support implementation involves cross-functional effort. You have to build the strategy, hire and train people, and configure new processes on the technical level. That is why managers starting it from scratch might feel swamped. Below are some tips for executing IT support if you’ve just started. Apart from more apparent advice, such as getting buy-in from management and communicating your goals to users, we advise you the following:

Spend time understanding the business & users

Understanding the organization’s business goals will help you provide better IT solutions and support aligned with the business needs. Moreover, it’s helpful to interview the users, asking them about their needs and how the new IT support function may bring value to them. To obtain trustworthy interview results, consult interview tips from customer development.

Prioritize wisely

Remember that if you’re starting IT support from scratch for users, it will likely be a moment they have long been waiting for. They are finally getting somebody to reach out to with their technical issues. Factor in that in the beginning, you will have multiple requests coming in from various departments. ITIL proved highly efficient for optimizing workload. Capping the number of tickets on every work type, capping the tickets assigned to each team member, and creating role descriptions are among ITIL’s suggestions.

Take advantage of automation

Automating repetitive tasks and processes can save time and increase performance. This is especially true for small and medium businesses where you can avoid long management approval processes to introduce something new. If you know a method that will let you do the same faster – don’t wait and use it!

Don’t shy away from feedback

When just starting, think of a feedback mechanism to allow employees to express their opinion about the work of IT support. This might be a weekly meeting with the team leaders, regular brainstorming sessions with all team members, or interactive online surveys. Feedback collection will give you lots of ideas for improvement.

Think beyond an in-house team

When introducing IT support in your organization, remember there are management solutions beyond the in-house format. Keep in mind that an in-house team is usually more expensive. Apart from salaries, it requires you to spend on hiring and training. However, it is the only suitable solution if your IT issues are complex and support specialists must dive deep.

Implementing a Service Catalog

One important function of IT support is to ensure that employees have easy access to the IT services they need. This is where a Service Catalog can be incredibly helpful. A Service Catalog is a centralized repository of IT services, applications, and resources that employees can easily access and request. By implementing a Service Catalog, IT support can streamline service delivery, automate common requests, and reduce the time and effort required to fulfill service requests. This ultimately frees up IT staff time to focus on more complex tasks, while also improving user satisfaction and compliance with service level agreements. Service Catalog software, such as the solution offered by Alloy Software, can make implementing and managing a Service Catalog much easier, allowing IT support to provide better service to their organization.

Business benefits of investing in IT support

Implementing an IT support strategy requires investment. However, the benefits can outweigh the costs. To explain this point, we have compiled a list of potential benefits that organizations can reap by executing a well-designed IT support strategy.

Higher employee satisfaction

With IT support, your employees will have the IT team’s back in tech matters and can focus on their primary duties.

Shorter times to resolution, thanks to standardization

Introducing IT support as a separate unit within the organization will soon result in documenting previously chaotic processes. A standard approach to resolving an issue increases the chances of solving the problem and getting back to normal. Finally, when the action plan is documented, it’s much easier to keep up with it.

Innovating is easier

In an organization with documented IT support practices, any new technological solution is easier to implement. You have a team of specialists that can help and the working processes. You can build up on that to apply a new method or software.

Less routine work

Automating some everyday processes in the organization will be easier with a dedicated IT support team. For example, remember that bug in the integration between your CRM and the bookkeeping application? It keeps bothering your sales reps, but resolving it would be tough for a non-techie who also has other jobs to do.

A new source of data

With the expertise of the IT support team, you will be able to install the needed data collection tools, like sensors, and store the data in a secure and organized manner. Then, the collected data will give valuable insights for your business decisions. We all know that you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it.

Alloy Navigator for your IT needs

IT support brings positive effects, especially with the help of stable software, such as Solarwinds, Ivanti, and BMC. We at Alloy Software also provide solutions for IT support. Our flagship product is Alloy Navigator. With Alloy Navigator, you can seamlessly set up various modules, such as ticket management, network inventory, Self-Service Portal, Service Catalog, and IT asset tracking. Our platform is flexible enough to fit the needs of businesses of different sizes across various industries. Don’t doubt – contact our sales team for a demo if you are searching for a new ITSM tech provider.

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