In-house or outsourced IT support? The pros and cons
17 April 2017
The large majority of companies today will have some sort of IT requirement, and a good proportion of those will find IT critical to the day to day running of their business. Not only do you have to think about the business’s overall IT requirements, but these days it’s common for each department to have their own individual needs – such as bespoke programmes, software or workflows.
It’s clear that most businesses will need some kind of dedicated IT resource, but the trouble comes in deciding whether to build your own internal IT team or outsource your IT support requirements.
In house IT support
There are benefits of building an internal IT team. With the right people, with the right experience and qualifications, you can build a bespoke support tram with in-depth and specialist knowledge of your company’s specific setup and systems. If based on site they will likely be available immediately and will be able to solve issues fairly quickly. Some companies view this as invaluable for potential emergencies, such as security breaches.
However it takes time, patience and often significant capital outlay to build an internal IT team. Businesses must have an understanding of what skills they will require in the future in order to build an effective team, and this can be difficult to predict – even for the most forward thinking business leader.
It’s not only the one off recruitment fees to consider. The average salary for a service desk support analyst is around £22,000, but for an IT Manager you could be looking at £50,000 or higher. You’ll also need to consider ongoing training and examination costs – as you’ll want your team to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practice.
It is usually a mistake to rely on just one or two people to manage your entire IT environment. Even the most experience IT engineer will have gaps in their knowledge, and relying solely on a very small team could likely cause your problems in terms of sickness and holiday cover. If one member of your two person team is on holiday and then the other falls sick, who will manage any issues which arise? Who will be responsible for covering issues outside of normal working hours? You cannot expect a single person to be on call 24x7x365.
Outsourced IT support
One of the main benefits of IT outsourcing is the financial savings it offers. Generally outsourced IT support is more cost-effective than creating an in-house team, and you can expect to pay a fixed monthly or per-user fee. The exact price usually depends on the number of users and the level of support, but once you do the calculations, outsourcing depends to be the most cost-effective route.
With outsourced IT support you will have support 24x7x365, so you don’t have to worry about things like out of hours, sickness and holiday covers. Most IT support providers will have a dedicated out of hours or emergency contact line so you can access support and get a response whenever you need. Thanks to technology the majority of issues can now be resolved remotely, so you don’t necessarily need to have a full team on site all the time.
You will also have on demand access to a wider pool of expertise. A quality IT outsourcing company will have staff with a range of experience and qualifications, and as such should always be able to find someone to help, whether it’s to assist with a quick fix or for a more long-term project. If your internal IT team doesn’t have the experience or qualification required then you may end up needed to bring in a freelance consultant for the lifecycle of that project. While that consultant may only be a short-term hire costs should add up, as contractors will often command a higher day rate.
Critics of IT outsourcing will argue that a third party will never be as effective as an internal employee who is directly under the control of senior management. Other concerns often include data privacy, data ownership and disaster recovery. However the majority of concerns can be avoided altogether if you take the time to find the right IT outsourcing provider. There should be agreements in place governing the quality of service you receive. Service Level Agreements should outline the way issues are prioritised, the response time per priority level, and the penalties if these are not achieved. Other factors like customer retention rate and recommendations should give you a rough idea of quality, but this isn’t a decision which should be rushed or based on a single factor – e.g. “who is the cheapest service provider?”
It can be hard to decide which approach is best for your company, but it is clear that there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to IT support.
For some companies neither approach may be 100% right, which is why some opt for a hybrid model that combines elements of outsourcing with an internal team. What is most important is that you find the right IT outsourcing partner, who understands your business and needs, and works with you to find the right balance.