Whether you’ve got an ongoing business or are in the process of starting one up, you’ve probably given some thought to what you need on the technical side. There is your office network, your virtual network, your email services, your social media accounts, your menagerie of devices from smartphones to smart printers to regular, dumb computers, your servers, or cloud storage… the list goes on.
Not only are you responsible for purchasing all the necessary hardware and software, but you must maintain it each and every day. After all, if they aren’t in tip-top shape, performance slows and cyberattacks begin. It’s plenty of work, and you, like most small business owners, are likely considering getting an IT guy to help you out.
But do you really need one? Unless your operation is huge (and possibly even if it is) you may not. It’s worth it to take the time to assess your true IT needs and consider outsourcing.
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Across industries, outsourcing tends to be a beneficial move. Generally, it enhances returns on investment, lowers labor costs, taps into potentially greater knowledge and skill, and liberates leaders to focus on more pressing issues, like business strategy and direction. Concerning specifically IT outsourcing, the advantages are essentially the same. If you outsource IT, you will find opportunities to:
1) Save money
The opportunities to reduce costs by outsourcing IT are substantial. Not only do you eliminate the salaries of IT professionals, but you are no longer responsible for buying and maintaining their tools, which include digital devices and software. By outsourcing, you pay a monthly or annual rate for internet support and other vital services, and that fee hardly compares with the expense of in-house IT.
2) Focus on core operations
Instead of devoting managerial energy to organizing everyday tasks and projects, you can concentrate on completing core objectives for your business. Because outsourced teams have their own management, your management is free to devote energy to their competencies.
3) Reduce risk
Every time you hire an employee, you assume a great deal of risk. With IT, you are depending on your staff to keep your data safe, to keep essential tools in working order, to update and enhance those tools as necessary – and if the team you hire are less-than-capable of these tasks, you are losing significantly. Conversely, when you outsource, you are guaranteed a certain quality of service. Not only can you sue third parties who don’t deliver what they promised, but because the expense is lower, the risk is lower overall.
4) Gain experience
For the same reasons you reduce your risk by outsourcing, you gain greater skill, knowledge, and experience in your IT team when you utilize third-party IT services. When your IT budget is small you cannot afford to hire top IT talent, but an outside vendor typically boasts an outstanding breadth of experience in its team.
Of course, it would be inauthentic to explain to you the benefits of outsourcing without offering a few downsides. However, the disadvantages associated with outsourcing typically depend on individual parties; if you find a trustworthy, high-quality third-party IT services provider, you might not encounter any of these detriments during your outsourcing experience. Still, you might:
1) Lose accessibility
Because IT is not just a few steps away from your desk, you may experience lengthier downtime when systems go offline. If critical systems go down, you could lose significant productivity and profit waiting for your IT services to address the issue.
2) Lose control
For the reasons explained above, vendors have more experience in the IT field than you — which may cause you to rely to heavily on their expertise. Before you know it, you might be paying for all sorts of services and tools that you have no hope of managing yourself and making outsourcing utterly indispensable.
3) Lose security
Though most outside IT providers place security as a high priority, there is a small risk associated with sharing essential systems and data with relatively unknown entities. After all, the NSA has been infiltrated several times by contractors; could you be, too?
For most businesses, outsourcing the bulk of IT services makes sense. Still, many businesses supplement their outsourced IT with one or two in-house IT staff members who can provide immediate attention to small, daily problems.
This is perhaps the ideal solution, providing your business with the greatest possible experience and appropriate levels of accessibility and control over your essential tech.