Seasonal Workers Make Managed IT Support Services a Gift During the Holidays

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By: Esther Shein|

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‘Tis the season when retailers ramp up for increased sales and wrap up technology projects — but it’s also a time when full-time employees take time off. In the meantime, critical back-end systems need to stay up and running. For many organizations, the go-to solution to this low supply and high demand is seasonal workers.

Seasonal Workers Are Used During the Holidays

Although not broken down by position, the National Retail Federation projects that retailers will hire between 700,000 and 750,000 workers for seasonal positions. And a holiday work survey by IT staffing firm Robert Half indicated that 28 percent of U.S. workers will take off the entire week of Dec. 28 as vacation.

That means many companies will be operating shorthanded during this decisive time. “The last days of the year are critical to complete quarter- and year-end projects, make billable hours goals and get organized for the new year,” said Paul McDonald, senior director at Robert Half.

The solution for many companies is to hire help in their IT departments during the holidays. Workers are needed during this time to handle website availability, troubleshooting, maintenance and support and overall business continuity. Yet it can take time for these workers to get up to speed and align themselves with the business culture.

“One of the most challenging aspects of the consulting world is you’re expected to roll into an environment and contribute right away and add value right away, and identify and solve problems,” said John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology, a staffing firm that places contract and full-time technical workers. Meanwhile, “there are all these expectations and you don’t know much about the company, their systems, their culture and the personalities of the people you’re working with.”

The Role of Managed IT Support

It’s no secret that IT has become an integral part of businesses, especially as more employees are mobile and systems are moved to the cloud. In today’s ultracompetitive world, no company can afford an outage.

This is where outsourcing to a managed technical support services provider can provide peace of mind. It is not unusual for companies to find themselves with gaps in IT manpower at the holidays, Reed noted, and managed support providers are the ideal panacea for ensuring systems reliability.

“With service providers, they make sure you maintain that continuity,” Reed said. Quality providers “know the systems will be there and the information will be there, and employees will be able to get to the information they need without worrying about it. To me, that’s the big gap they can fill.”

Focus on the Core Business

Having the right skill sets is critical; you want support services staff with technical expertise and a deep understanding of multiple platforms and multivendor support technologies. A system outage will have significant repercussions, especially for retailers during the holiday season. If a customer cannot place an order on a website, it can wreak havoc on the business in the form of lost sales and poor brand reputation. And if your customer service staff are remote and aren’t able to be productive, you risk orders being canceled, poor customer experiences and more.

Relying on internal staff to take over technical support needs when their peers are away can involve significant time and resources. This also diverts attention away from their own jobs. With managed IT support services in place to keep the lights on, your staff can concentrate on the more strategic aspects of the business.

Cost Savings

Besides quality support, you also want someone who can deliver services tailored to your budget requirements. IT desktop support provided by a third party, for example, can offer a company significant savings.

Outsourcing to a managed IT services provider means paying only for the resources you use as opposed to having to train and pay a worker for time on-site. This helps a company plan for accurate financial forecasting. Having the right IT support services provider also provides guaranteed service levels and a lower risk of costly downtime.

After all, said Reed, “It’s easier to enjoy the holidays when you’re fully staffed.”

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, CMO.com and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles. Prior to going freelance she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, an online enterprise technology magazine. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) and worked at The Associated Press.

Articles by Esther Shein
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