Whether you’re the CIO of an enterprise or run a small business, odds are you’ve run into some issues with your IT services before. Keeping all of your information technology running smoothly is a full-time job, which is why so many businesses have some form of IT department. Large companies have the advantage of big budgets to dedicate to in-house IT teams. To be effective, however, internal IT teams require depth and varied expertise to meet all of the technology needs required by today's businesses. But some small businesses might lack these resources or the luxury of an entire internal team. In these situations, a cost-effective solution might be outsourced IT services.
Outsourcing IT comes with many benefits for small businesses, such as access to an entire team of experts, advanced network security and monitoring, and streamlined business processes. This article will address some of the pros and cons of outsourcing, but first, let’s talk about what outsourced IT is.
An Inside Look at Outsourced IT
Outsourced IT services come from a third-party partner that helps manage or maintain a business's IT needs. This could be anything from basic infrastructure and network management to cybersecurity, disaster recovery or cloud migration. The idea is that you can take the time and energy of managing your own technological systems and hand it over to an IT staff with advanced knowledge and skills.
In this model, the IT company is referred to as a managed services provider (MSP). These service providers will take full or partial (based on your business needs and contract) responsibility for everything IT in your business. Outsourcing IT to a managed service provider extends beyond a simple break-fix business model. An MSP takes proactive measures that help prevent problems before they occur.
Outsourced IT support can monitor your network and data to ensure everything is working properly and nothing is at risk of a security breach. They often provide continual maintenance to your systems to ensure everything is up to date, optimized and running smoothly. This can help reduce downtime and save you the expense of major IT repairs.
How Can Outsourced IT Benefit My Business?
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Maintaining an in-house IT department isn’t cheap, and the costs can quickly become too much for a small business. You have to worry about payroll for all employees on top of the regular IT costs of implementing and maintaining a complex computer network and other operational systems. Even if you have the budget, you’re still limited to the small team you can keep in-house and their capabilities.
Partnering with an MSP can address these challenges. First, you can negotiate a contract with an acceptable, predictable fee for your IT services. The cost-savings alone can significantly help businesses boost their bottom line by freeing up funds to dedicate to other parts of their enterprise, such as sales or marketing.
Second, when you outsource, you get the capabilities of an extensive professional team. This often means you’ll experience fewer issues each month because they have more time and manpower to dedicate to monitoring your systems. Additionally, you can take advantage of their expertise to implement an IT strategy focused on using technology to help your business grow, such as employing smart IT solutions, automation, and other digital transformation initiatives.
- Give Your HR People a Break
Finding people with the right skill set to manage your IT functions can take a lot of time and effort on the part of your recruiters and HR team. Anyone responsible for staffing has seen how long it can take to find the right candidate, get them hired and have them onboarded. To add another layer of difficulty, the IT industry is extremely competitive. According to Salary.com, the average salary of an IT professional in a metro area is $70,000 a year, and these individuals typically leave a job after two years. That’s a lot of turnover in your most hands-on department.
Outsourcing your IT services can help alleviate these costs and risks, not to mention make your HR representatives’ lives a little easier. With an MSP, you have a dedicated partner in IT. They take the time to get to know your business and can grow with you over time. It’s a long-term solution to technology management. They can even help to streamline certain business processes, such as recruiting and onboarding, by automating workflows for your HR team.
- Get Access to Top-Notch Expertise
Partnering with an IT company means you have an entire team of experts proactively helping you. These are professionals with technical expertise who have dedicated their careers to technology, so you can rest assured they’ll be able to resolve any problem you might encounter.
With their expertise comes accessibility. Some businesses are hesitant about outsourcing because they feel they might not receive the same level of service as with an in-house operation. However, most MSPs understand that when it comes to technology, you need answers promptly. That’s why many offer things like 24/7 tech support, remote troubleshooting on devices or a help desk where you can submit tickets and be directed to the right person for assistance.
You also have the advantage of keeping a consistent knowledge base for your business’s IT. You won’t have to worry about retraining employees every couple of years and hoping nothing falls through the cracks. An MSP might have a team dedicated just to your account, or they’ll have a comprehensive file and thorough documentation about your business so each of their experts can jump in to help you.
- Future-Proof Your Business
Technology seems to move faster than light these days, and to remain relevant, businesses must adapt quickly. This might mean enhanced telecommunications, more online collaboration tools, a shift to a distributed workforce structure, new technology, or better process automation. But if your IT operations lag behind, these initiatives can take too long, which can stand in the way of your core business objectives. To make these changes efficiently and effectively, you’ll need an IT infrastructure that can support them.
Working with an MSP can make this process much easier. They can monitor your system performance and let you know when it’s time for an upgrade. You can also pitch ideas about new tech in your industry and get feedback on whether it would be worth implementing and how your MSP could help. The world is relying on technology more and more, so embracing it is an excellent way to future-proof your business and give yourself a better shot at future success.
- Put a Stop to Downtime and Cyberattacks
IT threats can be complicated, and if you’re not well-versed in the area, you might not even know where to look for them. It can be difficult to safeguard against cyberattacks if you don’t know how they happen. Forty-three percent of cyberattacks are on small businesses, so having a way to mitigate them can be crucial to success.
An MSP knows there’s more to cybersecurity than just firewalls and passwords, and they can help you implement higher-level security protocols. When it comes to security, it can be especially beneficial to partner with a company that’s an expert in your field because they’ll have a better understanding of which threats to protect against. They can help you take the proper precautions, so you’re at a significantly reduced risk of attack.
Aside from cyberattacks, there are other things that can take out your network too. Things like natural disasters or power outages might pose a threat to your network and data centers. An IT service provider can help mitigate the downtime that comes with outages by creating a disaster recovery plan. This helps to protect your data in the event of an outage and creates a protocol for how to get back online.
- Have More Time to Devote to Other Goals
When you’re running a business, you need to focus on business goals. You probably don’t have time to worry about new technologies or which computer systems need to be updated. Even if you delegate the task to someone in-house, you still end up being the point person on many of those projects, which can eat up a ton of time.
The benefit of using an MSP is that you can trust they’re doing the best for your IT system. Outsourcing this responsibility means you can spend more time finding ways to boost your business. The IT company will focus solely on keeping your systems in tip-top shape, and you can focus all of your energy on achieving your goals.
Additionally, and possibly the most notable benefit, is the consulting and reporting that comes with most MSPs. Through periodic strategy sessions, your MSP will review performance, issues, and recommendations and prioritize future IT needs and projects. This creates significant efficiencies for the business owner or project lead as they remain knowledgeable about their current environment and where they are going on the IT front without having to do the heavy analytical work.
How to Find the Right IT Partner for Your Business
Deciding outsourced IT is right for your business is the first step, but there’s more to consider after a decision is made. Not every MSP is created equal, and it’s important to consider their differences and how those might affect your business. In general, there are five guidelines you can follow to choose a company that will fit your business.
1. Look for companies who specialize in your industry or work with companies similar to yours. This shows they’re likely familiar with how your industry works and business models similar to yours. You want to make sure you choose a company that can hit the ground running, and understanding how your business works beforehand is a big part of that.
2. Ask for references, testimonials, or case studies from the company so you can get an idea of how they operate and handle problems. This is an easy way to get a better feel for the day-to-day interactions you might have with them and acquaint you with how point of contact interactions typically go, as well.
3. Inquire about everything that's included in their managed IT services. Many IT companies will offer a host of services, some of which might also be beneficial to you. Some common offerings include software support and integration, cloud-based services and interoperability help.
4. Make sure the company’s business model goes beyond a break-fix setup. You don’t want to pay to have a team on call if they only show up when you have a problem. MSPs should continually monitor your IT and prevent issues from happening in the first place whenever possible. You want a company that can proactively protect your business as well as be available when problems arise.
5. Review their pricing structure before you start working on a contract. You want to look for companies who work on a flat fee, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, annually or otherwise. Some companies will offer hourly services, which might seem like a cheaper option, but it can lead to more problems in the long run. A company that's earning a flat fee is incentivized to solve your problem the first time, where hourly companies might make processes more difficult to run up the clock. Flat fees are also more convenient when it comes to billing. They provide a consistent expenditure that you can easily integrate into your budgets without worrying about unexpected costs.
If you feel like your resources are stretched too thin and in-house IT is holding you back, it might be time to consider outsourcing your tech needs. At Daystar, we support businesses of all sizes in nearly every industry. See why our clients love the ease and simplicity of our managed IT service, Daystar Direct.