Nearly 70 percent of small to medium sized businesses, according to a 2016 survey by Clutch, work with an IT service provider for some or all their IT needs. There are many considerations when deciding about outsourcing IT. Virtually every business manages some internal and external IT resources. Firms with internal IT departments generally work with strategic technology partners or vendors. Even businesses that have completely outsourced IT still manage their technology if only at a high-level.
WHY FIRMS OUTSOURCE
Technology is not your core business. Outsourcing is a strategy to rely on the expertise of a vendor who is solely focused on delivering effective technology.
Reduce overhead. Building an IT department in house is a big commitment. It will cost employee wages, benefits, taxes and hiring costs. Each technician will also need a desk, computer equipment, and office space. While it may make sense to have an on-site technician, an outsourced IT team only costs a subscription fee.
Provide uninterrupted service. If your firm has an in-house IT staff, it is difficult to provide continual service when that person is out of the office for vacation, sick time or after-hours.
Enterprise-level monitoring and management tools. The ongoing infrastructure monitoring that managed service providers deliver can help firms avoid IT issues, data loss and downtime. Small business IT teams face budget and time constraints that make it difficult to deliver the level of monitoring that a dedicated IT provider can.
Expanded resources and training. An IT outsourcing company will generally have a larger pool of resources, providing better coverage and economies of scale than internal IT employees. IT support organizations tend to have a larger focus on training, certification, and tools which results in higher efficiency.
Improved Security and Efficiency. According to IT industry trade association CompTIA, the top reason businesses adopt managed services is to “improve efficiency/ reliability of IT operations” (51 percent). Efficiency is a major pain point for businesses when it comes to IT. Network monitoring and maintenance is required if organizations want to maximize the security of their systems. Patches also need to be administered to all commonly used applications. A small business with limited time and resources might forsake them altogether because they’re not immediately “necessary.” These unpatched vulnerabilities could allow online threats easy access to your critical systems.
Increased peace of mind. Some business owners have less anxiety knowing a team of experts is managing their technology versus a solo technician who may not have the resources or expanded perspective to provide the most secure and reliable environment.
WHAT IS MANAGED IT SERVICES?
Outsourced IT support means hiring an outside company to manage some or all your business technology needs. Managed IT service providers (MSPs) focus on proactive delivery of their services, as compared to reactive hourly support.
The core difference between managed IT versus the traditional break/fix method is that those who are managing the network are treating it as if it was their own. By utilizing enterprise-level remote monitoring tools, carefully honedin processes, and preventative maintenance, managed IT delivers service far beyond break/fix IT. This improves the integrity of the network and all the devices, while also identifying problems before they cause a serious issue.
Having the best IT staff is still essential, but improved automation allows MSPs to provide more efficient support, focus more time proactively planning, and spend less time reacting to items that are broken.
Generally, no firm in-sources all technology support. There is almost always a mix of internal and external employees on a technology team. Once your firm is large enough to require an IT department, it may make sense to in-source some of your IT staff. Firms with over 100 employees may have a PC tech to handle day-to-day support while being supported by a high-quality MSP to ensure planning, security and compliance are handled correctly.
It is important to contemplate what types of partners you are working with. If your partners are focused on selling you hardware and software, you may end up purchasing equipment that is not needed. Understanding potential vendor partner philosophies and approaches is essential.
If you’ve never considered an IT managed service offering and are trying to manage your own IT, it’s worth evaluating if outsourcing would be a cost-effective way to lift your IT burden. Or, if your current IT team is running ragged, perhaps you can offload some difficult IT tasks. A properly managed team will prevent avoidable setbacks such as down time, malware infections, poor performance, or failure to restore data from backup. Stephanie Kinsey