In order to successfully operate an IT support operation, whether within an enterprise or within a service provider organization on behalf of clients, it is critical to be specific and aware of the IT support levels. Support level is the extent of technical assistance provided for an IT software product to its customers.
Support is normally divided into up to four levels, which are tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4. The support level is based on the complexity of support provided. Support level is also known as level of support or technical support. IT Support levels are not only into technical Support, application support and maintenance as well as maintenance website.
As a technical support, you’ll be monitoring and maintaining the computer systems and networks within an organisation in a technical support role. If there are any issues or changes required, such as forgotten passwords, viruses or email issues, you’ll be the first person employees will come to. Work scope can include installing and configuring computer systems, diagnosing hardware/software faults and solving technical problems, either over the phone or face to face. Most importantly, as businesses cannot afford to be without the whole system, or individual workstations, for more than the minimum time taken to repair or replace them, your technical support is vital to the ongoing operational efficiency of the company. As technical support, you may also be known as a helpdesk operator, technician or maintenance engineer. You could work for software or equipment suppliers providing after-sales support or companies that specialise in providing IT maintenance and support. Alternatively you may work in house, supporting the rest of the business with their ongoing IT requirements.
Listed below are the definitions of Level 1 through Level 4 IT support levels. IT support levels and support tiers are phrases used interchangeably within IT organizations. With some variations, a typical IT Support infrastructure is usually organized around the following support tiers.
L1 – First Line Support: Telephone helpdesk or answer center support
This support level receives inbound requests through channels like phone, Web forms, email, chat, or other means based on the documented agreement with the Client. L1 support typically includes individuals that have very limited technical expertise. L1 support logs, categorizes, prioritizes, tracks, and routes
- incidents reported by users or
- alarms raised by monitoring tools. L1 is intended to be the first to acknowledge an incident. L1 support tracks tickets until successfully resolved. L1 engineers can implement basic, documented break-fix tasks along the lines of following a cookbook recipe. L1 personnel will typically escalate to an L2 resource and follow documented escalation procedures, again, like following a cookbook recipe. Depending on the vendor, L1 technicians will have from 0 to 4 years of prior relevant experience
L2 – Second Line Support
These technicians have more experience than L1 support technicians and manage incidents raised by the L1s or as agreed in documented SLA (Service Level Agreement) timelines. L2 technicians follow documented processes and workflows provided by Clients or higher level support representatives, vendors, product management, etc. They are expected to escalate to the L3’s when documentation is insufficient to complete the tasks or do not solve the incident. L2s usually have and maintain a Run-Book which they can use for immediate resolutions. They collaborate with any other support or dependency groups in case the incident has a linkage to other support personnel or outside vendors. L2 engineers will typically escalate to an L3 resource and follow documented escalation procedures.
L3 – Third Line Support
L3 technical experts resolve issues that are typically difficult or subtle. L3 engineers participate in management, prioritization, minor enhancements, break fix activities, problem management, stability analysis, etc. These support leaders have specific, deep understanding and expertise in one or two technology platforms (for example, an Oracle database administrator or a Windows Admin). L3 engineers are proactive in nature, identifying problems in advance and looking for continuous service improvement opportunities. If a fix involves a major enhancement or a development, then the problem is transferred to engineering or development teams, Level 4. L3 engineers may have root or administrator access to basic systems.
L4 – Product and Vendor Support
L4 support refers to product or vendor support and often involves vendor product architects, engineers, software developers, hardware designers and the like. When all other levels of support cannot solve a problem, a request is made to this level of support – usually managed by the L3 support technician or through special project/program management resources. These escalations can often involve product bugs, detailed configuration requirements, or other expert level guidance.
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