As hardware and software become increasingly complex, businesses are more reliant on technology every year. That means technology-related problems also become more complicated. In the past, many organizations relied heavily on internal IT personnel to handle problems as they came up, but that approach is becoming problematic.
Today, outsourced IT services are proving to be a better solution for companies everywhere. Even many larger organizations are discovering that keeping IT departments onsite is not providing the needed results. If you’re trying to determine whether to use in-house IT personnel or outsource the service, there are several factors to consider.
Using In-House IT Personnel
Larger companies frequently use in-house staff members to deal with IT issues. In some cases, that may still be a viable option. Smaller organizations generally find having an internal IT department to be cost prohibitive. Those smaller organizations generally choose to have one or two people on staff to deal with all IT issues.
When a larger staff is employed, it’s theoretically possible to have individuals with expertise in multiple areas. That means someone on the staff is likely to have the background necessary to identify and deal with specialized technical problems.
However, smaller organizations may not have the option of keeping several IT experts on staff. Instead, one or two generalists will be tasked with handling problems they may not be familiar with. The risk is that a problem may not truly be resolved, or an issue will take far too long to deal with.
Of course, an in-house IT staff will be familiar with an existing system and have a solid understanding of the organization’s culture. That can be a definite plus and make some decisions easier to make.
On the other hand, not all in-house IT personnel will welcome new ideas or other changes that will upset the status quo. That can hold back a company’s growth.
Costs of Maintaining an In-House IT Department
Anytime employees are added, there are significant costs involved. It’s not enough to consider only the salary, as other expenses dramatically increase the total cost per employee. In addition to salary, benefits must also be factored into the overall cost per employee. The company will be responsible for taxes, ongoing training, and any necessary tools or other supplies.
Another cost of having in-house IT experts is space. Office and storage spaces will be necessary. For many organizations, that space could be put to better use.
In addition, on-staff employees generally have set hours, which means calling them in for problems that develop outside of their normal working hours can result in significant additional costs. Allowing the problem to remain unresolved until the next regular shift is possible, but that can negatively impact a company’s productivity.
Taking Advantage of Out-Sourced Managed IT Services
Managed IT services are touted as providing a level of service most in-house IT departments can’t deliver. Some IT professionals might argue that point, but there is evidence that suggests the statement is generally accurate.
At the very least today’s highly volatile conditions suggest all businesses, but especially small to medium organizations, should explore contracting with outsourced IT service providers. There are several factors worth exploring.
Flat Fees Are Budget Friendly
The costs of in-house IT services can be unpredictable and hiring a managed IT services provider makes it far easier to set and stick to a budget. Companies using an in-house IT staff must always worry about paying overtime, or worse, having IT team members being idle.
Since contracted services are provided 24-hours per day, your systems are always monitored to ensure they are online. That also means downtime can be minimized when managed IT services are used.
In addition, managed IT services generally tailor the level of service to meet a specific organization’s needs. That makes it even easier to save money over having an in-house IT department.
Specialists Are Readily Available
A single in-house IT person rarely has the breadth of knowledge needed to deal with some of the complex issues that may arise. A managed IT services provider, on the other hand, routinely have staff members able to diagnose and deal with virtually any type of issue quickly. When productivity is threatened by a computer-related issue, resolving that problem quickly and effectively matters.
Any time a system or server goes down, it can also threaten relationships with clients. No one likes to hear their business needs can’t be met because of a system outage. If a single high-value client is lost due to IT issues, a company’s bottom line could suffer significantly.
Another advantage is that managed IT service experts are trained by the management company. You’re not paying for on-going training that’s always needed to keep the IT experts’ skills up to date.
Save Money by Taking Advantage of Shared Resources
One of the issues facing any in-house IT department is having all the resources available to effectively deal with diagnosing and repairing systems. That’s not an issue when managed IT services are used. The cost of all necessary diagnostic equipment is shared, meaning individual companies enjoy the benefits without major expenditures.
Many managed IT service providers also pass along cost savings when clients need software or hardware to stay competitive. That frequently results in major savings for a business.
Get Unbiased Advice When You Need It Most
While in-house IT staff members are generally willing to weigh in and offer advice when system updates or replacements are necessary, they don’t always have the expertise or objectivity required to make the best suggestions.
Managed IT service professionals are often in a better position to provide advice that’s both practical and cost effective. The combined expertise of the managed service providers also means you’ll get a range of options an in-house IT person may not even be aware of. Given the number of innovations in the industry, it always makes sense to ask for recommendations from experts who have a keen insight into the various hardware and software options.
Discover the Benefits of Real-Time Monitoring
The majority of in-house IT personnel tend to be reactive rather than proactive. In most cases, that’s because they don’t have the time or technology available to track a system’s behavior in real time.
When managed IT services are used, real-time monitoring of system behaviors is common. That means many issues can be dealt with before they negatively impact a company’s operations. In most cases, changes are made without anyone at the client company even knowing a problem was developing.
Are There Risks Involved When Using a Managed IT Services Provider?
The short answer is yes. There are risks involved when using any outside service provider. The obvious concern would be receiving poor-quality service. That’s why it’s vitally important to screen any potential provider and review their past record. Since no provider will be in business long if they fail to deliver on their promises, it’s generally not difficult to weed out questionable managed IT service companies.
Another potential issue is developing a strong working relationship with a team you rarely interact with. In some cases, projects or updates can be delayed if the managed IT service providers are not in the loop. It pays to take time early in a relationship to ensure communication channels are always open, and the provider will respond quickly to your needs. This type of situation tends to happen more frequently when dealing with offshore service providers where language barriers exist.
It’s also a good idea to work with managed IT service providers that have a history of supporting organizations similar to yours. The IT professionals should have a basic understanding of your corporate culture and how that culture impacts your business decisions.
Track Trends for the Best Outcomes
Technology is rapidly evolving, and those changes impact how companies address their IT needs. Controlling costs is always an objective, which is why so many organizations have already moved away from in-house IT departments.
However, the technology landscape is bound to change even more in the future. The best managed IT services providers are responding and offering companies innovative ways to cut costs while maintaining their IT systems’ integrity.
Don’t be afraid to ask a provider how they can address your industry-specific issues and what strategies can be employed to stay ahead of the technology curve in the future. That might include hardware, innovative software, or improved ways to minimize the potential for system downtime.
Moving Forward Now Rather Than Later
If you’re concerned about your technology systems, now is the time to contact a managed IT services professional for advice. This is especially important if you’ve experienced issues in the past and are unsure of your system’s current status.
Managed IT service professionals will evaluate your current system to determine where vulnerabilities lie and recommend a tailored plan to address those concerns. Of course, the company’s current and anticipated future needs should be considered now to make sure adequate provisions are in place to deal with growth.
Mitigating risks is always important and, as security threats increase, having a solid relationship with a managed IT service provider can certainly go a long way toward providing confidence in your network infrastructure now and in the future.