IT services are an essential part of any business, but there’s no one way to go about running them. The two main ways to manage your IT services are with in house specialists or outsourced companies.
An in-house staff certainly has its benefits, which might explain their attractiveness to many small businesses. Having a dedicated IT specialist on staff provides minute and detailed problem solving whenever you need it. While outsourcing companies can offer dedicated services specific to your business needs, they might struggle to satisfy every detail, especially if you have particularly complex IT needs.
What’s more, lots of business owners get an intangible enjoyment from having their own IT department. For some reason, there’s still a stigma against outsourcing amongst some companies because it feels like a crutch or a temporary solution.
However, far from being something you settle for, outsourcing your IT needs could actually be a better choice for your business for a variety of reasons.
Freeing up Staff
Having an outsourcing company manage your IT services frees up your employees from having to worry about IT management. Without a company managing your IT, you will need at least one staff member dedicated to managing, updating, and troubleshooting some aspect of your IT system, and that’s one staff member that could be put to use on some other aspect of your work.
Access to a Panel of Experts
If you hire in your own team of IT specialists, it’s your responsibility to find experts in each area you need to be covered. Finding one person with a wide range of expertise can be difficult, and hiring a whole team with individual specialisms can be prohibitively expensive.
An outsourced IT company is essentially a pre-packaged panel of experts in all aspects of IT, all available for a single price.
With an in-house team, you are limited to your hiring capabilities. That means your ability to grow as a business is limited to the capacity your IT team can handle at any one time.
A good outsourced company is set up to grow with you, meaning you never have to sacrifice growth for IT management.
Services around the Clock
Though this is not the rule with all outsourced IT companies, many offer their services 24/7, meaning your business is serviced and protected around the clock.
Even the most dedicated and experienced in-house IT specialist will only work around 40 hours a week, leaving time at the evenings and weekends for service malfunctions and cyber attacks.
Naturally, these benefits come with a cost. In fact, this is where outsourcing requires careful consideration: businesses operating on a budget need to account not only for one-time costs, but recurring costs generated from ongoing and expanding IT capabilities.
One-time costs are the most negligible of these two expenditures but still require some consideration. Depending on your initial state of IT setup, there could be a significant upfront cost to prepare your business for the security, storage, and networking infrastructure necessary for an outsourcing company to do its work.
Then again, if you were to hire in-house staff the setup requirements would likely be similar, so it’s worthwhile investigating exactly what work would need to be done and the hourly cost of installing these features.
Recurring costs are where the cost of outsourcing reveals itself. Contracting an outsourced IT management company is more than buying a monthly subscription; your costs will depend on your IT requirements as a business.
The main determinate factors are the amount of data stored, the number of servers in operation, and the number of devices on your network. This latter point includes not just desktops, but laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Each of these elements will require support hours to set up and manage. One rule of thumb is that each device or server requires 25 hours per year to manage.
Generally, the greater the number of support hours the higher your IT bill will be. Consider that IT service providers can charge $100 or more per hour, and the cost of a multiple device network quickly adds up. However, it’s worthwhile asking your potential outsourcing company about their pricing system, which may be tiered or weighted towards fewer or greater device numbers. One area this is particularly notable is in data storage. Most IT companies will charge a relatively low fee for the first batch of data stored, around 500GB, but then increase the costs significantly with larger amounts of data.
On the whole, when looking at outsourced IT services, you’re looking at a bill of at least $1000 a month and anywhere up to $9000 a month.
Costs of In-House Services
While the cost of outsourced systems might seem high, bear in mind that these costs are inevitable, to a certain degree. Setting up a network of devices and servers and storing your data are all regular parts of business operation, and whether you contract an outsourced company or hire in-house staff the costs will still be there.
When it comes to in-house staff, though recurring fees may be lower on the surface, they are nonetheless present. For one, you have to factor in the salaries and benefits for each IT specialist you hire. On top of that, data storage always brings with it a recurring cost, whether that’s from data managers and security experts on centralized storage solutions or subscriptions for cloud storage services.
All in all, an in-house IT specialist will cost around $3500 to $4000 a month to employ, and that doesn’t include the costs of benefits or data storage. For that reason, depending on the scale of your business, an outsourced IT company might be your best option.
There is no one right answer when it comes to IT services, as it depends on what you want to achieve as a business. Consider these points as a guideline and make the choice that fits you best.
Main photo credit: Technology Visionaries