5 Tips for Effectively Managing Web Support Relationships

Chris Risner
Web support

G etting your site up and running is just the beginning. Getting the right type of customers to your site, having them convert, and subsequently return is what really matters. To do so requires having a post-launch strategy that includes plans for the ongoing support and maintenance of your site.

Every web solution requires updates and regular maintenance, and most will require enhancements and additional requirements in future phases. While it’s certainly possible for your team to take on the responsibilities of supporting your site post-launch, there are some clear benefits to outsourcing this work to a trusted partner.

One of the most common reasons companies have been making the move to outsourcing web support is that it allows the company to keep the focus on their own core competencies. Working with a support partner not only allows the company to solve more involved technical issues than they could on their own, but it also allows the company to increase or decrease coverage quickly.

And while most companies have an individual or team that is responsible for managing content and some administrative features on their site, dedicating a full-time position to this could be costly depending on how regularly changes to the website are needed.  Alternatively, the need for support may be sporadic or come seasonally, in which case the full-time staff can become overwhelmed with requests. In either scenario, having a reliable external support team can help companies dig out of these tough situations. 

Once you decide to work with a support partner, it’s important to collaborate effectively to ensure success and keep costs low. When setting up a support plan with your partner, consider the following:

Managing Support Relationships 1

Set Goals – and Stick to Them!

Whether it be dates, budget or functional requirements, setting goals with your support team will help ensure that everything goes according to plan.  Being able to provide clear dates or cost limits not only provides the support manager with your expectations, but also gives the support team an opportunity to prioritize work and raise concerns early. Additionally, understanding why you want a specific change to be made allows the support team to consider if the requested work is in fact the best solution for the problem your team is facing.

Learn How to Best Communicate with Your Partner

Not all requests can be properly defined through a support ticket.  Sometimes it is much more efficient to hop on a video call and showcase the issue.  While a call may have some cost associated with it, getting to the heart of the issue right from the start will ultimately reduce the cost of development itself. Requesting a call to screen share or clarify a request is a fantastic way of making sure that your internal and support teams are on the same page. Clearly explaining requirements to your support team is the best way to make sure you are going to get exactly what you want.

Managing Support Relationships

Keep Tasks Simple

While not all support work can be accomplished in a single day, most support requests typically do not exceed 8 hours of effort.  Keeping tasks short and simple minimizes risks by allowing the support team to focus on specific items rather than a handful of tasks. 

Get to Know the Ins and Outs of Your Partner Team

Much like working with internal teams, understanding who exactly owns each role and knowing what exactly they can accomplish for you is critical to getting what you need.  While communication with the support manager is expected, it is certainly not out of line to communicate directly with other members of the support team to get answers to your questions. Having open lines to various people on your team can give you better insights into the status of your site.

Managing Support Relationships 3

Assign a Gate Keeper (Calling them Zuul is Optional)

If your company has several departments or individuals that submit web requests, it may be beneficial to task someone to manage those requests. Having one person or a small team serve as gatekeeper for support requests before they go out to your partner team can help keep things organized both internally and with the support team.  The gatekeeper will be able to keep requests consistent, ensuring the support team can easily identify and prioritize what needs to get done.  The gatekeeper will also have an understanding of all the requests across departments and be able to organize them based on business needs.  Lastly, a gatekeeper may also serve as an internal blocker making sure that requests aren’t just being sent out to the support team without consideration for the site’s existing logic, the company’s goals for the site, or the budget.

Ultimately, your team should consider the amount of work or maintenance that needs to be performed regularly on your site post launch. Do you have the knowledge and time to complete that work? Is it worth saving money on your project through an internal effort at the risk of making mistakes that more directly affect your bottom line?

 There are a lot of considerations, but the most important thing to remember is to not delay your decision. If you’re waiting until after launch to decide what course you’ll take, you’re too late. Whether you choose to work with a partner or not, having a long-term support strategy is imperative to optimizing your site and generating results well beyond launch.

Want to discuss your team’s support strategy? Contact us

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