IT support can feel like a complicated consideration. There are constantly changing technologies to keep up on. There are multiple engagement models and varying forms of support.

The end goal of IT support, though, is simple: to turn your business’s technology into an advantage.

With that goal in mind, let’s take a look at two services that are often held up in comparison as St. Louis companies evaluate IT support options: helpdesk support and onsite support.

Which service is better for your business? Is the choice really an either / or proposition?

Here’s our analysis.

The Pros of Onsite IT Support

First, let’s define our term: onsite IT support is (straightforwardly) service that occurs on the premises of your business, provided by a technician or engineer.

Importantly, for the purposes of this article, we’re examining outsourced onsite support as a solution. Internal onsite support has its own array of benefits and drawbacks, but this analysis is purposed toward helping organizations select ideal third-party services.

With that definition in mind, the benefits of onsite IT support in St. Louis include:

Onsite support offers relational service.

Onsite IT support has the potential to be more relational when compared against helpdesk support, because IT providers are able to see users face-to-face.

Although this may sound like a soft, intangible benefit, relational service can play a large role in effective IT support: It establishes trust and proximity, which lead to proactive communication. It can alleviate substantial issues before they cause damage and create greater efficiencies that would otherwise go unrealized.

For example: if end users have a relationship with an IT technician and see that person onsite, they may bring up an issue that they’ve been dealing with (say, that the ERP system has seemed to be lagging a bit lately). These kinds of issues might not get reported to a helpdesk but resolving them can improve efficiency.

Onsite support is helpful in this way because, when relationships aren’t in place, issues are more likely to go unaddressed until something breaks – at which point damage has already been done.

Onsite support solves onsite problems.

This point is obvious, but it’s worth noting. Some elements of systems design are simply better understood onsite – engineers can understand the full context of an environment by being in it.

Perhaps the most tangible benefit of onsite IT support is its role in solving hardware issues. Remote support can be highly effective and strategic for software or operating system issues, but when a server or laptop needs physical attention, somebody has to be there in person.

The Cons of Onsite IT Support

While onsite St. Louis IT support offers several advantages, it also comes with two drawbacks:

Onsite support is more expensive.

This is fairly straightforward: outsourced onsite IT support requires paying for somebody to be there in person. This often requires advanced strategic solutions, and there are also travel costs to consider.

Onsite support is less available.

Additionally, outsourced onsite support personnel tend to be less available. They’re not always onsite – they only come at scheduled times. Even when they are onsite, they’re limited in how much they can tackle at once. If seven users have issues, an onsite technician may not be able to resolve everything in a day, and they almost certainly won’t be able to help everyone immediately.

Additionally, when there is a travel disruption or the support personnel takes a vacation, the onsite support may not have a backup team fully versed in the client’s issues.

The Pros of Remote Helpdesk Support

Next, let’s take a look at remote helpdesk support. Again, we’ll start by defining our term: helpdesk support is IT support given remotely (either via chat, video, phone, or other digital means).

It’s important to clarify here that there are forms of remote support other than helpdesks. At ATB Technologies, for example, our remote support team proactively monitors and manages alerts to ensure uptime (whereas, at a helpdesk, the user calls in). This version of remote support is an incredibly valuable and strategic remote service; it’s not a helpdesk as we’re defining it here, although helpdesk technicians are able to remotely access machines to fix issues promptly.

One final note: Here, as with onsite support, we’re analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of an outsourced solution (as opposed to an internal helpdesk).

With those things in mind, the benefits of outsourced helpdesk support include:

Helpdesk support is more cost-efficient.

It’s simply less expensive to access a helpdesk than it is to pay for someone onsite. Remote helpdesks don’t require travel, for one thing. And they often deal with urgent issues (as opposed to highly strategic ones). For these reasons, helpdesk support services simply tend to be more cost-efficient.

Helpdesk support offers greater availability.

Additionally, helpdesk support offers greater availability than onsite support. While onsite personnel likely aren’t available every day and at all hours, most helpdesks are available 24/7/365. And helpdesk services also allow multiple users to call in simultaneously; if three users need support, each can talk to a helpdesk technician right away.

The Cons of Remote Helpdesk Support

Of course, helpdesk support also has its drawbacks:

Helpdesk support may be less relational.

Helpdesks can be relational, especially in engagements where you’re able to speak with a person you can trust. But they aren’t onsite, so they aren’t delivering support face-to-face. And, in general, they are less likely to be consistently dedicated to an organization, meaning that users are less likely to speak to the same helpdesk personnel each time they call.

Helpdesk support isn’t able to address physical hardware issues.

Again, the most tangible drawback to this mode of support is that when issues are physical, more than a helpdesk is needed. If a device gets too dusty or has water damage, remote service won’t suffice.

The Bottom Line: You Might Benefit from a Hybrid of Onsite and Helpdesk Support.

So, with all of these things considered, which mode of support should St. Louis organizations choose?

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Helpdesk support may be effective for smaller organizations that require prompt help and constant availability in ticket assistance.
  • Helpdesk support may also be effective for larger organizations who already have an internal team onsite – having a helpdesk available can free up internal resources to focus on strategic issues.
  • Onsite support should be chosen when physical solutions or expertise are needed.

In reality, though, choosing between helpdesk and onsite tech support shouldn’t be an either-or proposition. The two modes of support are complementary to each other, and accordingly the best St. Louis IT solutions offer both. Most managed service providers offer a helpdesk for employees to call into and regular onsite support where appropriate (either on-demand or via scheduled check-ins).

And rarely is onsite support delivered as a standalone service without access to a helpdesk – so, if you choose to outsource onsite support, you’ll likely have the ability to access remote support, as well.

Looking for an IT support solution that offers you the best selection of benefits?

Get in touch with us. At ATB Technologies, we provide IT support for St. Louis businesses.

Because we’re local, we’re able to offer both helpdesk and onsite support. And we also provide proactive remote support that enables advanced strategy without the higher cost of onsite travel.

Have more questions about the modes of IT support? Contact us today to learn more about the best IT support solution for your business.

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