Welcome back to our series on IT support options. Last week we compared managed services against the break/fix model of IT consulting services. This time, we’ll compare managed services to hiring your own in-house IT staff.
If your company has grown beyond a sole proprietorship, to one that employs five, ten or more employees, it has probably become increasingly apparent to you that handling IT issues yourself is not an effective way to manage your technology.
Eventually, every business comes to a point where their IT capabilities, or lack thereof, makes the difference between having the ability to expand, grow and meet the needs of their customers – or not. Some signs that might be happening in your business include:
- Your business can’t get work done efficiently because you lack the appropriate technology.
- You are always dealing with software, hardware or networking issues.
- Client relationships are suffering because your technology isn’t keeping up with change.
- You have equipment, but it is aging and out of date, or components aren’t compatible with one another.
As customers increasingly rely on mobile devices and applications that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, they place demands on your business that you might be unable to manage yourself as your business grows.
Eventually, most companies decide it is time to hire resources to manage their technology. There are several approaches they can take to doing this; two of the most popular are hiring in-house resources, or finding an outside managed services partner to manage their IT resources for them.
In this blog, we’ll look at the pros and cons of these two approaches.
In House IT – Pros and Cons
A few of the advantages of hiring an in-house resource to manage your resources include:
- Availability: You are their only “client” so they are always available to fix your issues – as long as it happens when they are at work. Relationships:
- One stop shop: Your employee is there to fix any kind of problems you might be having, whether it’s a broken printer or a network security problem.
- Focused on your business: An in-house resource will be very focused on your business, and will get to know your people and business needs very well.
Disadvantages of hiring an in-house resource include:
- Availability: Vacations, sick days and other time away from means you still won’t always have coverage when you need it. You’ll need a backup plan.
- Individual generalist: Even if the resource you hire is a generalist that can handle many different needs, there are times when you need a specialist to handle a more in depth problem. One individual, no matter how skilled, cannot handle everything your business might need.
- Training and education: A dedicated IT resource brings can bring knowledge of the latest IT tools to help your business. However, these skills will stagnate quickly if adequate training and opportunities to use learning are not provided.
Managed Services – Pros and Cons
The advantages of managed services include:
- Availability: There’s no worries about vacation time or sick days – you’ll always have a team member available to assist. A managed services provider offers a team of skilled IT professionals that provides consistent coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Multiple Specialists, not a Generalist: You’ll always have access to a team of individuals who specialize in multiple areas of IT, whether it’s networking, security, mobile devices. Their skills are always up-to-date with no additional cost to you.
- 24/7 Monitoring: Why do networks always seem to crash on Mondays? It’s because most small to medium businesses with in-house staff do not have monitoring equipment to help them head off problems before they happen. With managed services, 24/7 monitoring means problems are fixed behind the scenes, making Mondays much more pleasant.
- High level strategic advice: The world of IT is changing quickly and is causing many businesses to have to adapt to keep up with the demands of customers. A managed service provider understands the big picture of technology and can help your business leverage it to adapt.
- Lower, more predictable cost: A fully dedicated IT person capable of handling everything a managed services delivers would come at an extremely high price. A managed service provider delivers all this for a low monthly user-based fee. You only pay for what you need.
Disadvantages of managed services include:
- Less focused on your business: A managed services provider typically juggles multiple clients, which means they are not solely focused on your business. You can’t just run down the hall to ask a question, but this is offset by stronger IT skills and experience.
- Cost: Managed services can seem like a more expensive option than hiring a less-skilled IT resource. However, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. In addition to salary, there are hidden costs such as vacation, insurance, sick time and training that can make a seemingly cheaper in-house resource surprisingly expensive.
Why Medium Size Businesses Choose Managed Services
A recent survey by CompTIA indicated that companies with less than 100 employees choose managed services for the following reasons:
- Improved efficiency and reliability: 47%
- Enhanced security and compliance: 38%
- ROI / Cost savings: 33%
It’s also important to note that choosing a managed service provider for your IT isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition. Many companies find that using a managed service provider to take care of the company’s day-to-day IT monitoring and preventative maintenance allows in house IT staff to focus on more strategic projects that can allow your business to be more competitive.
In the next installment of this series on IT Support options, we’ll be comparing managed services to doing it yourself. Make sure you don’t miss it – subscribe to our blog now!