For many business owners, the issue of information technology doesn’t appear on their radar until something actually goes wrong. A phone line goes down, computers stop working, the internet connection slows to a crawl, or one of a million other technical hurdles suddenly pops up. It’s often at this point that businesses get serious about IT.
Once the immediate crisis is solved, the question that usually comes next is, “How do we prevent this from happening again?” And, practically speaking, there are really only two answers: hire a full or part-time IT person, or contract with an IT services provider.
For small businesses, outsourcing is a popular choice. But is it always the best option? Below are some pros and cons of outsourcing your information technology needs.
IT Outsourcing Pros
There are many concrete, practical advantages of outsourcing your IT support and cyber security defenses to a local services provider. These include:
1) Employment Cost Savings
Typically, an outsourced IT contract can be negotiated to a fixed fee that is a fraction of a salaried employee. Plus, the IT service provider does not require benefits and never goes on vacation.
Outsourcing also eliminates the cost of keeping an internal IT person trained and current on the latest technology. Because business technology is constantly evolving, if an internal IT person’s knowledge doesn’t keep pace, they risk becoming ill-prepared for fixing problems when they occur. And then you’ve got to call a third party anyway.
2) Knowledge, Experience, & Availability
By outsourcing your IT needs, you immediately get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience “right out of the box.” In fact, if you select the right IT Services company, you’ll gain access to an entire team of IT technicians. Effectively, you’ll have a virtual IT department at your disposal.
In addition, an IT services provider will [presumably] have multiple professionals available at all times. With an internal IT person, if a problem crops up and that person is out sick, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable, then there’s no backup available to fix the problem.
3) Less Hardware-Dependent
An internal IT team often means purchasing and maintaining IT-related hardware and software. This includes computer servers, networking equipment, and even phone systems.
Some of the biggest headaches (and risks) you face are related to purchasing and maintaining all that equipment. The equipment can include computer servers, networking equipment, and phone systems.
With IT outsourcing, a lot of the hardware needed for your business can be hosted and maintained off-site. Letting a service provider manage all the hardware, updates, and maintenance means fewer upfront costs and fewer long-term hassles.
IT Outsourcing Cons
While the upside of outsourcing your IT can be significant, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider before making a final decision.
1) Less Control
There’s no getting around that by passing the reins to a third party, you give up a certain amount of control over how your systems are managed. Of course, with control comes responsibility. Sacrificing some control is often worth the results for those more concerned with the outcome rather than the implementation.
2) Data Security
This issue can be either a pro or a con because modern data security is a complex topic. While using an outside IT services provider increases the number of people with access to company data, often the security, systems, and protocols they provide are better than what your business could use internally—and it’s likely worth that trade-off.
As in any service market, there are good providers and not-so-good. Unfortunately, in the outsourced IT space, there are many “one-armed wallpaper hangers.” Beware of the one-man gang who shows up days after your call him in.
When evaluating IT Outsourcing partners, here are a few things to consider to ensure you find a quality firm with the resources to deliver a solid service.
- Do they have more than 3 or 4 technicians? If not, when “Joe” goes on vacation, you could find yourself in a pickle.
- Do they show up in a service truck/van? If not, be prepared to be billed for the technician returning to the office to get cables, tools, and equipment.
- Do they have three solid references from companies larger than yours?
What’s Right For You?
This list of pros and cons is not meant to be one hundred percent comprehensive. It’s intended to provide some insight into some of the most universal issues that all businesses will have to grapple with when deciding how to handle their IT needs.
If your business is currently evaluating IT providers and trying to decide if hiring internally or externally is the right solution, make sure you speak with several potential vendors to find one that meets your specific needs.
At Fortis, we offer reliable and proactive IT support in Sacramento and the surrounding area. Our concierge service means local expertise and fast response time. We handle your technology so you can handle your business.