Nearly 70% of U.S. small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) work with an IT service provider for some or all of their IT needs (according to a 2016 survey by Clutch). There are many considerations for deciding what to outsource. Virtually every business manages some combination of 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 must still manage their technology if only at a high-level.
Should you Outsource your IT Support?
Many businesses outsource their IT because:
- Technology is not your core business – Outsourcing is a strategy to rely on the expertise of a vendor who is solely focused on delivering highly effective technology.
- Reduce overhead costs – Building an IT department in your business is a big commitment and in more than just employees’ wages, benefits, taxes and hiring costs. Each technician will also need their own desk, computer equipment, and office space to accommodate them. While it may make sense depending on your firm size to have an on-site technician as part of your customer service team, an outsourced team of IT professionals only costs a regular subscription fee. They do not need healthcare, benefits, or catered lunches and they will never need to talk to HR about time off.
- Provide uninterrupted service – If your firm has an in-house IT Staff of one, 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. This may be the most important benefit of working with an outsourced managed service provider, because IT downtime can completely derail a small business.
- 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 SMBs adopt managed services today is to “improve efficiency/reliability of IT operations” (51%). 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, but this task is easier said than done. A small business with limited time and resources might forsake them altogether because they’re not immediately “necessary.” The problem with this lies in security, as unpatched vulnerabilities could allow online threats easy access to your critical systems. This process is made much easier with outsourced managed IT services.
- 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 of 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 (namely, the IT company) are treating it as if it was their own. By utilizing enterprise-level remote monitoring tools, carefully honed-in processes, and preventative maintenance, managed IT delivers a level of service far beyond what break/fix IT could provide. This improves the integrity of the network and all of the devices on it overall, while also identifying problems early before they cause a serious issue. Having the best IT staff is still essential, but improved automation allows managed service providers to provide more efficient support, focus more time proactively planning, and spend less time reacting to items that are broken.
Generally no firm completely in-sources all technology support. There is almost always a mix of internal and external employees on a technology team. Once your company is large enough to require an IT department, it may make sense to in-source some of your IT staff. Understand the right mix for your firm. Firms with over 100 employees may often have a PC tech level resource to handle day-to-day support while being supported by a high-quality MSP to ensure that planning, security, and compliance are being 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. If you’ve got people focused on services, you may buy a lot of services. 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.
Contact us at (602 412-5025 for a complimentary assessment of your IT Budget and Resources to evaluate the best fit for your business.