For smaller businesses, outsourcing IT support may be the only sensible option. For larger organisations employing both desk based and mobile staff, the decision may be less clear.

Start-up businesses and smaller companies often lack a trained IT employee. As a result, administration of the company server and management of all desktop and mobile devices often falls to the most tech-literate member of the office. In the long-run this is never ideal as growing businesses require more staff and more technology support, causing significant distractions for the tech-literate guy who just wants to get on with his or her main job.

At this point, many smaller businesses choose to outsource their IT support because, generally speaking, it is cheaper than employing a full-time member of staff. However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, many large scale organisations, with established IT departments, often struggle to focus on the bigger picture IT strategy as their internal resources are overwhelmed by routine, day-to-day activities such as fixing broken devices or administrating lost mobile equipment.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to outsourcedor in-house IT support and what is the best strategy for your business?

Advantages of in-house IT support

  • With the right training and development plans, you can build a team with highly specialist knowledge of your systems and business objectives
  • An in-house IT support team can answer and resolve many issues or technical problems very quickly. Larger companies may even be able to employ staff on night-time and irregular hour shifts, to enable even better coverage in the event of system failures
  • If you have multiple specific IT projects requiring support – an internal team may be the best solution for helping facilitate those projects.

Disadvantages of in-house IT support

  • For most organisations the biggest disadvantage is cost. Recruiting, training, providing support and equipment to staff is expensive. Many organisations will find that when they look at the cost of outsourcing, compared to insourcing, the former is usually the most financially preferable option.
  • Perhaps the biggest IT cost is the salaries for your staff. In addition to average salaries of £25 to £50k, you also need to take into account employers NI, pension contributions, annual bonuses and an array of other hidden costs.
  • Motivating and retaining your staff is another key issue faced by organisations. If your core business is not IT, do you know how to appeal to and provide structured career paths for qualified IT professionals?
  • For very small businesses, one of the biggest disadvantages to employing full-time staff is what do in the event of holidays, absences and sickness. If your IT team comprises of just two people, then it's likely that these scenarios will occur
  • With smaller IT teams there will also be knowledge gaps that are less likely to occur in a business that is focused entirely on providing IT support
  • It can also be very difficult for some businesses to manage IT staff if you don't know what it is they are supposed to be doing. Outsourcing takes away this headache
  • You may also find a lack of innovation in your in-house team. Without strong leadership it is far more difficult to create processes and new systems that will help streamline your business and make it more efficient.

Advantages of outsourced IT support

  • Generally speaking, outsourcing is likely to be much more cost-effective. An internal IT team requires at least 2 full-time members of staff which is a costly expense for smaller companies
  • Outsourcing provides you with access to a broader range of expertise as the majority of IT support firms will employ a multitude of qualified professionals with differing specialisms
  • For smaller businesses, outsourcing means you are less likely to be held-up due to the sickness, absence or holiday requirements of your staff
  • Outsourcing also enables your tech-literate but non-specialist staff to focus on their core jobs. For larger organisations, it enables your IT department to focus on bigger picture strategy and avoid the distractions of repairs and support calls.
  • If using a reliable supplier you should also have in place a SLA (Service Level Agreement), which defines expected levels of service and imposes penalties when those standards are not met.
  • Good IT support firms should also provide proactive monitoring and reporting on your systems. They should also be able to spot issues with aging equipment, expiring warranties and problematic devices on your network
  • Some IT firms will have specialist knowledge or products that are useful or vital to your business, for example, mobile device management software.

Disadvantages to outsourced IT support

  • Some organisations may not feel comfortable with the lack of managerial control. An external IT support company obviously has different objectives, mission statements and values to your own business. Choosing the right company to outsource to can therefore be a tricky task
  • Some organisations may have concerns about security and confidentiality matters. If you operate in a particularly sensitive and regulated industry, outsourcing can provide numerous headaches regarding the handing of client or financial data. This can entail complex legal and administration costs.
  • Some organisations may also be concerned about the reduction in communication between in-house and external IT teams. For companies operating multiple special projects, in-housing may be the only route forward.

Can't make your mind up?

Is your organisation considering outsourcing IT support but still undecided? Speak to our friendly team for some no-obligation advice. Call 01293 7100 20.