IT – you might not consider yourself a fan of the technical stuff, but if you’re a business decision maker, you’d probably shudder if you thought about what you’d do without it.
In reality, most businesses wouldn’t exist without IT. Technology underpins what we do so deeply that most companies just wouldn’t exist without the connection they have between users and the outside world. What’s more, losing crucial IT systems for hours – or even just minutes – can be devastating. In fact, on average, losing IT systems will cost an average business thousands of pounds or dollars for every day they’re down – and many companies don’t recover from such instances.
So, what can you do to make sure your IT systems work smoothly? For many companies, employing an IT team is the answer – but it’s an answer that comes with pitfalls. Here, we’ll look at what some of the pros and cons of an in-house IT team – and ask; where can you turn for IT support if you in-house doesn’t make sense for you?
Recruiting and training an in-house IT team
Having an in-house team tending to your every IT need is a great feeling – but it’s one that comes at significant financial cost – and that cost usually starts before they’ve even on the payroll.
The trouble with IT is the depth of knowledge required to find good IT people. Chances are, if you’re recruiting for IT professionals, you’re not an IT professional yourself – so what do you look for? You’re actually going to be looking for someone to control a part of your business that you cannot afford to be without – so there’s no room for error.
When you do work your way through the recruitment process, you’re then into a world of training an accreditation – professional qualifications are often needed just so your team can maintain your own kit. What’s more, IT professionals tend to need time out of the business to make sure their knowledge is always right up to date – after all, what use is a team of people if their knowledge stops growing the moment you take them on?
Finding the right IT team is no mean feat. If you do, you’re going to be well looked-after, but it’s certainly a luxury that comes with a significant price tag attached.
The human resources problem
As well as finding your ideal IT team, you’re going to quickly find that they come with a significant design flaw; they’re human. Now, that’s not a design flaw in itself, but it does make them particular unsuitable for managing IT systems, unless you have a fairly big team who can pick up when others sleep or are away from their desks. Trouble is, you probably don’t need a fairly big team – but, if you want to make sure you’ve never got any gaps in your IT support, you’re probably going to wish you could justify the spend involved with a sizeable team.
The thing is, IT doesn’t sleep. You might close your systems down for the night or weekend – but there’s a chance that you’ll have systems running 24/7 – and, unless you can suddenly jump into having 5-6 people in your IT team, their person-power may not reach this far.
Now, as if your new IT team weren’t unreasonable enough to require sleep – they’re also going to need vacations, they might get sick, they might need time off – or, worse yet, they might find another job. All the while, your IT systems keep ticking over – never more than a cyber-attack or system failure away from losing you a truly horrific amount of money or data.
With limited IT resources, you should look for ways to digitally transform your processes to eliminate repetitive manual tasks. For instance, on-boarding new employees with collaboration technologies, such as a phone, phone number, voicemail, instant messaging, video conferencing and more can take a lot of time for every new hire. Fortunately, collaboration provisioning automation tools can streamline this time-consuming process.
If you’re going to marry your company to an IT team, you do it for better or for worse – in sickness, and in health.
Outsourcing IT support
If the pitfalls that surround in-house IT support leave you anxious, then exploring external IT support might be the way to go. Increasingly, it’s the way that a huge range of organisations are moving – from small startups to entire government agencies.
When you outsource IT, you’re generally going to be buying your service in from a Managed Service Provider (MSP). An MSP is a company that exists solely to provide IT support – virtually all of their staff team will be dedicated IT professionals who work with third party clients to support their systems. As a result, they have up to the minute best practice knowledge and, they’re trained and accredited according to customer need – so, when they walk into or remotely connect to your business, they come packed full of important knowledge.
What’s more, working with an MSP means you sidestep the world of HR issues that come with an in-house team. That’s not to say that MSP staff aren’t human – simply that the depth of an MSP’s team allows for some flexibility around their requirements – so, if your account manager leaves, another will pick up seamlessly – or, if the person monitoring client systems through the night is unwell, another person picks it up – making sure you’re covered.
If you want to be absolutely certain that your IT systems are covered 24/7/365, then finding a good MSP makes a lot of business sense.
Outsourcing software development
Of course, there’s more to IT than just handling the nuts and bolts part of your infrastructure – and while all MSPs will support maintaining and expanding your network, some will even support you to develop your own applications and software.
It’s not something that all companies will require, but since your business is unique, there’s no reason to think you have to fit into the software that every other business uses. In fact, having a managed service provider onside who can look at the way you operate and see if there are more efficient ways to operate your workflows can be transformative for your organisation.
Software development is another string to an MSP’s bow that would be virtually impossible to replicate with an in-house team – unless you’re willing to pay hundreds of thousands in staffing costs – building on top of an existing team that maintains your systems. While there’s no reason to think you don’t have that money – you probably haven’t got to that position by opting for costly resources when you could save huge amounts buying in more effective services.