Outsourcing Help Desk For MSPs: Pros and Cons

By |Published On: June 18th, 2024|

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) often face the daunting task of balancing customer support demands with core business objectives. This task, however, can be relieved with MSP help desk outsourcing, a strategic solution that promises to vastly improve support operations. This model liberates MSPs to refocus their internal resources on critical areas like business development and strategic planning. But what exactly does it entail?

We at Scaled specialized in providing staffing services for L2 and L3 engineers. However, we fully acknowledge that your L1 help desk team is important as well, and we don’t want to ignore this role on your journey to build a complete A-Player team. That is why, throughout this article, we’ll dissect the pros and cons of this approach, examining its scalability, cost efficiency, and access to niche expertise. We’ll also delve into the nuances of outsourcing’s impact on core business operations and explore effective strategies for successful outsourced help desk for MSP, from selecting the right partner to adapting to future needs.

What Is MSP Help Desk Outsourcing?

Defining MSP Help Desk Outsourcing

MSP help desk outsourcing refers to the practice of contracting an external team to manage the help desk operations for Managed Service Providers. In this model, the responsibility for handling customer support, technical assistance, and resolving issues related to IT services is transferred to a third-party organization specializing in help desk services.

This allows MSPs to delegate the day-to-day support tasks to a specialized team, freeing up their internal resources to focus on core business activities such as business development, service improvement, and strategic planning. MSP help desk services typically involve establishing a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that outlines the scope of services, response times, escalation procedures, and other key metrics to ensure the quality and efficiency of support delivery.

Value Proposition: Why Outsource Help Desk for MSPs?

By partnering with an external service provider, MSPs can leverage specialized expertise, advanced technology, and scalable resources to deliver high-quality support to their clients. This approach allows MSPs to reduce operational costs, optimize resource allocation, and improve overall service efficiency. Moreover, outsourcing help desk services enables MSPs to focus their internal resources on core business activities, such as innovation and client relationship management, thereby enhancing competitiveness and driving business growth.

Overall, MSP outsourced help desk enables the delivery of superior customer experiences while maximizing operational efficiency and strategic alignment – and we’ll discuss it in greater detail in the next section.

The Advantages of Outsourcing Help Desk for MSPs

Scalability and Resource Optimization

One of the primary benefits of outsourcing help desk services is the scalability and flexibility it gives to MSPs. External service providers can quickly adjust resource allocation in response to fluctuating demand, ensuring that MSPs have the right level of support available at all times. Whether it’s sudden spikes in support requests or seasonal variations in workload, outsourcing partners can scale up or down resources accordingly, minimizing costs and maximizing operational efficiency.

Cost Efficiency

Outsourcing help desk services can result in substantial cost savings for MSPs. They can avoid the overhead costs associated with hiring and training in-house support staff, maintaining infrastructure, and investing in technology upgrades. And, unlike traditional hiring, outsourcing agreements often operate on a pay-per-use or subscription model, allowing MSPs to pay only for the services they require, without the burden of fixed overhead expenses.

Access to Niche Expertise

Outsourcing provides MSPs with access to specialized expertise and niche skills that may be difficult or costly to develop in-house. External service providers often employ teams of highly skilled professionals with extensive experience in various technical domains, including network management, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and software development. This enables MSPs to deliver comprehensive and specialized support services to their clients, enhancing their competitive edge in the market.

Enhancing Core Business Operations

MSPs can redirect their internal resources and focus on core business operations such as innovation, strategic planning, and client relationship management. That is because outsourcing enables MSPs to offload routine support tasks to external providers, freeing up valuable time and resources to pursue growth opportunities, develop new service offerings, and strengthen client partnerships. This strategic reallocation of resources enhances organizational agility and fosters a culture of innovation within the MSP ecosystem.

Uninterrupted Support

Outsourcing ensures uninterrupted support for MSP clients, even during peak periods or unforeseen events. External service providers typically operate 24/7 help desk operations with multiple support channels, including phone, email, and live chat, ensuring that clients receive timely assistance whenever they need it. Moreover, outsourcing partners often adhere to strict SLAs that guarantee rapid response times, minimal downtime, and consistent service quality.

The Drawbacks of Outsourcing Help Desk for MSPs

Loss of Direct Control

Outsourcing help desk services may lead to the loss of direct control over support operations. Entrusting critical support functions to a third-party provider means relinquishing hands-on control over processes, workflows, and service delivery. This loss of control can lead to concerns regarding transparency, accountability, and alignment with MSPs’ strategic objectives.

To mitigate this risk, MSPs must establish clear communication channels, define performance metrics, and maintain oversight through regular performance reviews and audits.

Quality Assurance and Security Risks

Outsourcing also introduces quality assurance and security risks that can compromise service quality and data integrity. External providers may not adhere to the same rigorous standards and protocols as internal teams, leading to inconsistencies in service delivery and potential vulnerabilities in data security.

MSPs must conduct thorough due diligence when selecting outsourcing partners, ensuring they possess robust security measures, compliance certifications, and a track record of maintaining service quality and data confidentiality.

Overreliance on Third-Party Providers

Relying too heavily on third-party providers for help desk services can create dependency issues and vendor lock-in situations for MSPs. This may limit flexibility, hinder innovation, and impede the MSP’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics.

That’s why MSPs should diversify their service delivery models, maintain contingency plans, and foster a culture of continuous improvement to reduce dependency on external providers and promote self-sufficiency.

Cultural and Communication Challenges

Outsourcing help desk services to offshore or geographically dispersed locations can introduce cultural and communication challenges that affect service quality and client satisfaction. Differences in language, time zones, work culture, and communication styles may lead to misunderstandings, delays, and inefficiencies in support delivery.

For strong talent management, invest in cross-cultural training, establish clear communication protocols, and leverage technology solutions such as collaboration tools and language translation services to bridge the gap and foster effective communication between internal teams and external providers.

Transition Management

Lastly, the process of transitioning help desk functions to an outsourcing partner can be complex and challenging, requiring careful planning, coordination, and execution. Managing the transition involves identifying and documenting existing processes, defining requirements and expectations, conducting training and knowledge transfer sessions, and establishing mechanisms for ongoing monitoring and feedback. And it goes without saying that poorly managed transitions can result in disruptions to service delivery, employee resistance, and client dissatisfaction.

MSPs must allocate sufficient time, resources, and expertise to effectively manage the transition process and minimize potential disruptions to operations.

Effective Strategies for Successful MSP Help Desk Outsourcing

Selecting the Right Outsourcing Partner

Choosing the right outsourcing partner is paramount to the success of MSP help desk outsourcing. MSPs should conduct thorough due diligence to evaluate potential partners based on the key qualities such as expertise, track record, infrastructure, security measures, and cultural fit. It’s essential to assess the outsourcing provider’s experience in delivering help desk services, their ability to scale with business needs, and their commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

Establishing Robust Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Clear and comprehensive SLAs are essential for defining expectations, performance metrics, and responsibilities between MSPs and outsourcing partners. SLAs should cover critical aspects such as response times, resolution times, service availability, escalation procedures, and reporting mechanisms. MSPs must collaborate closely with outsourcing partners to negotiate SLAs that align with their business objectives and client expectations, ensuring transparency, accountability, and mutual understanding.

Communication Protocols

Effective communication is vital for successful MSP help desk outsourcing. MSPs should establish clear communication protocols and channels to facilitate seamless collaboration between internal teams and external providers. Regular meetings, status updates, and performance reviews help maintain alignment, address issues promptly, and foster a culture of transparency and accountability. Leveraging communication technologies such as video conferencing, collaboration platforms, and ticketing systems can streamline communication and enhance productivity.

Continuous Performance Monitoring

Continuous performance monitoring is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of help desk outsourcing and identifying areas for improvement. MSPs should implement robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms to track key performance indicators (KPIs), such as response times, resolution rates, customer satisfaction scores, and adherence to SLAs. Regular performance reviews and audits enable MSPs to identify trends, address issues proactively, and drive continuous improvement in service delivery.

Adapting to Future Needs

As business requirements and client expectations evolve, MSPs must be prepared to adapt their outsourcing strategies accordingly. Flexibility and agility are key to successfully navigating changing market dynamics and emerging technologies. MSPs should regularly reassess their outsourcing arrangements, solicit feedback from clients and internal stakeholders, and anticipate future needs to proactively adjust service levels, resource allocation, and outsourcing partnerships as necessary.


By entrusting day-to-day support tasks to specialized external teams, MSPs can redirect their internal resources towards core business activities, fostering innovation and strategic planning. The advantages are clear: scalability, cost efficiency, and access to niche expertise enable MSPs to deliver superior customer experiences while maximizing operational efficiency.

However, the journey towards outsourcing help desk services is not without its challenges. Loss of control, quality assurance concerns, and cultural barriers necessitate careful consideration and effective management strategies. Yet, by selecting the right partners, establishing robust SLAs, fostering clear communication, and embracing continuous improvement, MSPs can navigate these challenges and unlock the full potential of help desk outsourcing.

About the Author: Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson
Michael started his MSP, TLC Tech, in 2004 and has steadily grown and developed the company in the near two decades since. Currently employing 31 employees (including seven from South Africa), he understands the unique challenges faced by MSPs. As a founder of Scaled Inc., Michael works to assist his peers in the MSP world by streamlining the process of adding talent technicians to their teams. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn to discover how Scaled can place technical talent at your MSP.

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