Outsourced IT Support or In-house?
As long as there has been IT the question of whether outsourced IT support or in-house is best has been asked.
Effectively managing the cost and performance of IT is vital for the success of the modern business. If a business’s computer systems are continually breaking down or causing other problems, productivity can plummet.
To ensure a business runs smoothly and maintains growth, few things are as important as having the right IT staffing and systems in place. However, business owners often find it difficult to decide whether to keep IT services in-house or outsource them to an established service provider.
In smaller businesses, or those at an early stage, it often falls to the most tech-savvy member of staff to provide unofficial IT support. This may work for a while but as systems become more complex the IT support will either evolve to the point it is beyond the individual’s skill set, or the workload becomes too large and the day job suffers.
In larger organisations an IT department might exist but can find itself bogged down fixing problems and providing user support when the business owners wants them to be focused on developing the IT strategy.
In this article will look at the advantages and disadvantages of outsourced and in-house IT support to help you decide the best strategy for your business.
Advantages of in-house IT support
You can build a team with highly specialised knowledge of your own systems.
As they are focused just on you an in-house IT support team can answer and resolve many issues or technical problems very quickly.
As employees an in-house team should be fully aware and focused on your business’ objectives and goals. This should mean that any IT development closely aligns to those business goals.
If you have multiple specific IT projects an internal team may be the best, and cheapest, solution facilitate those projects.
Disadvantages of in-house IT support
Cost is the biggest disadvantage. And not just wages. Recruiting, training, supporting and managing and providing the necessary equipment are all expensive.
Despite this the biggest cost will be wages. In addition to average salaries of between £25k and £50k there is also employers NI, pensions, any bonuses and a myriad of hidden costs.
Once you have you staff in place retaining them is another issue you’ll face. If your core business is not IT, then do you know how to provide a structured career path for qualified IT professionals?
For very small businesses you’ll also need to deal with annual leave and sickness. An in-house team needs to be at least two people (so double those wage costs!) but even with two you’re likely to experience cover problems at some stage.
You may also struggle to find someone suitable to manage and motivate these staff? It’s very difficult to manage people if you don’t fully understand what they need to be doing! This may lead to the team itself being less productive, especially when it comes to creating new processes and systems.
You may well experience knowledge gaps, especially with very small internal IT teams. The knowledge of a business entirely focused of IT, with multiple team members, is likely to be greater.
Advantages of outsourced IT Support
Outsourced IT support is likely to be considerably more cost effective. You may well be able to fix costs for a contract period, aiding budgeting.
There are often things included within outsourced IT support that you might already be paying for separately. For example we include antivirus, email filtering and backup within the support contract. This can represent a significant cost saving.
You’ll get access to a broader range of knowledge and experience. An IT support firm will employ several qualified professionals with different specialisms.
Access to a larger team also eradicates problems with holiday and sickness cover. This means constant support and a massively reduced risk of downtime.
You’ll free up internal resources. Whether this is the IT savvy individual, or the whole IT department your staff can go back to doing exactly what you want them to. This is not necessarily an either/or. You can outsource and retain your in-house team.
A good outsourced IT support company will provide proactive monitoring, maintenance and reporting. If you’re a small business this can be invaluable as you’ll be forewarned about ageing equipment, expiring warranties and problem devices.
Your IT support firm will have access to, and knowledge of, the very latest technology. This could provide you a distinct competitive advantage. Larger providers can also assist with alternative finance, such as hardware-as-a-service. This can spread the cost of equipment and keeping all of your infrastructure up to date.
Disadvantages of outsourced IT Support
Some management teams may not be comfortable relinquishing control of their IT systems, especially as they are so vital to any business.
It can be difficult to find the right partner. It’s important that the IT support company understands your objectives, goals and values. The ideal partner will feel like an extension of your business rather than simply a supplier.
Some businesses prefer more visibility. The majority of support will be handled remotely, and this can be a barrier for those that prefer more face-to-face contact.
Security, confidentiality of information and liability can also be a concern. You’ll be giving access to information and control of your systems to a third party, so you’ll need to be comfortable that they know what they are doing and have suitable controls, systems and insurance in place.
In-house or outsourced?
Each business, and each business owner, will have a different opinion. Some will see some of the disadvantages we’ve outlined for outsourcing as unsurmountable, others will view them as no problem at all.
Cost will always be a factor, but it should never be the only one. A decision needs to be given careful consideration and discussion.
If you are considering outsourcing your IT support then our friendly team would be more than happy to have a no-obligation conversation. Simply complete the contact form or call us on 0115 8220200.