Understanding the key differences between internal and external IT support
Businesses of different shapes and sizes also have different requirements for IT support. Determining to hire internal or external support will depend on the scope of those needs. To make the best decision (minimalizing costs without sacrificing support), it’s important to not only know the technical needs, but to understand the key differences between options.
To be fair, we can admit our bias; after all, we are the best IT company to ever exist. Jokes aside, there are instances where it just doesn’t make sense to hire externally. In other cases, partnering with an IT company is the best solution. One or the other isn’t always the best way forward, some businesses benefit from utilizing both.
Keep reading to see which is best for your business.
Dedicated IT Staff
Hiring an internal IT employee (perhaps team) or relying on the office’s ‘tech sav’ is quite common with many different businesses. Too often, a company will rely on one or few employees with some technical knowledge to manage the variety of IT-related tasks.
Cyber security, user accounts, data backups and recovery, communications are some of the many basic functions someone in a business is responsible for. Properly managing these crucial elements are time consuming and can be quite challenging. If there are no staff solely dedicated to IT, how much is this impacting other employees’ productivity? Core business functions can easily become neglected if technical issues are consuming too many resources from other team members.
Skilled, onsite IT staff should not only be an expert with the technology (both hardware and software) a business uses but should have a thorough understanding how these applications are utilized within a specific company’s business model. A properly sized team will should also be able to deliver quality solutions with quick turnaround. Seeing as internal IT support works under the same roof, their goals are aligned with the company. This often results in a natural incentive to provide support beyond a simple fix.
While dedicated IT staff could be a great implementation to several different business settings, there are common drawbacks to this model. Remember, the idea is to minimize costs without sacrificing support.
Downsides of Dedicated IT Staff
Believe it or not, IT staff are human too -they take vacations, use sick days, and can only work so many hours in a week. In addition to their day-to-day functions, they are also responsible for providing direct support to the rest of the team. Who fills in for shorthanded IT staff? Hiring additional employees for the sake of buffer can become costly. On the other hand, support requests can quickly pile up when an office suddenly has a dedicated team member for technical issues. If an IT department is not properly staffed to meet the needs of a business, issues become neglected -slow turnaround and ‘quick fixes’ that don’t fully address root problems.
When an IT professional works in the same environment day in and day out, it becomes challenging to stay up to date with new technology. Being consistently overwhelmed with monotonous issues can prohibit IT staff from not only focusing on their core functions, but also their ability to discover new solutions that align with business goals. Depending on the specific technical needs of a business, necessary skillsets for IT staff can vary greatly, as does the cost.
They’re not actually computers. Recalling that internal IT staff take time off, they also might require other expensive benefits like insurance, continued training, bonuses, and more. The average salary for an IT Support Specialist is around $50,000. A small, qualified team can quickly overextend a modest labor budget.
Whether or not a company should hire internal support depends on several factors. Company size, budget, difficulty of technical environment, and more should be taken into consideration when making the decision. Not every case is a one-size-fits-all, and sometimes relying solely on a dedicated support team just doesn’t make sense.
Partnering with an IT Company
Working with an external IT company to manage technical needs shouldn’t feel like another service. The idea is to develop a partnership with an IT company. Instead of just picking up the phone and calling support when things go wrong, a business is assured that issues are addressed ahead of time, taking a proactive approach to solve problems.
IT companies have mastered many of the daily core functions surrounding technical support and are often automated/streamlined to allocate resources to more project-oriented tasks. This allows for a faster and more focused response to new issues. Providers typically offer support to more than one business or industry, developing a broader understanding of technology and business applications available.
A good service agreement should be straight forward. Clear expectations set between a business and IT company assure the business that technical goals will be achieved. It also allows the provider to allocate sufficient resources, i.e., staff. This creates an opportunity for a highly customizable plan that meets business needs and is cost effective. With the right service agreement, a business can expect all the upsides of internal IT staff and more.
Upsides of Partnering with an IT Company
✔ Cost Effective
✔ Expert Solutions
✔ Long-Term Strategies
✔ 24/7 Protection
✔ Extensive Documentation
✔ Broadened Skillset
The Best of Both
Dividing responsibilities between internal dedicated IT staff and an outsourced IT company results in a dynamic relationship with the benefits of both. Some businesses prefer or require onsite IT staff for in-person troubleshooting and support. In cases where staff is regularly needed onsite, many of the behind-the-scenes duties can be managed by an IT company, freeing up time for internal staff to assist other team members. Perhaps a current IT team is sufficient with daily operations and user support, but lacks knowledge of the phone system, or struggles with specific, project-oriented tasks. This is where a co-managed partnership can help fill in the gaps.
Different businesses have different environments and technical needs. Many variables should be taken into consideration when determining whether IT support should be hired internally or externally. Furthermore, business evolve over time and so do their needs -what might be the best path forward today, may not necessarily be the same tomorrow.
If you’re unsure if your business would benefit from internal or external IT support, or both, let us know. We’re more than happy to help you understand how to better make this decision.
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