The IT support conundrum – in-house or outsource

by David Flood, Senior IT Sales Consultant, MJ Flood Technology

With the adverse effect of the economic downturn on many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), questions are being asked about IT support; is it a necessity or a luxury and more critically, should it be managed in-house or outsourced to an external provider.

As someone with over 15 years’ experience in this area, my advice is to use a combination of both.

Why? To put it simply, you know your company better than anyone.  You know the strengths and weaknesses within your IT department and therefore know when and where you need to call on a specialist partner who can provide you with the expertise and/or service elements needed to ‘plug the gaps’, so to speak.

The answer to this question also depends to some degree on who you ask within the company.

From a financial director’s point of view, there is the guarantee of knowing on a month by month basis exactly what you are getting; the service provided by your internal IT department and the discreet elements from the third party provider.  By choosing not to pursue this hybrid model, presents the prospect of a laborious recruitment process involving several staff members and a period of induction and training for the individual to bring them up to speed.

If you consider the man hours and financial cost of this approach (including the salary you are going to have to pay) and the on-going man hours involved, finance has to contemplate a substantial year one cost for the person hired for that specific job.   According to the Aberdeen research group, you’re probably only getting around 60 per cent staff utilisation in that first year meaning 40 per cent of the time is non-productive.

The other glaring consideration – and apologies for stating the obvious – is that technology is moving at an incredible rate.  Within the last five years alone, a number of disruptive advances have emerged.  While some organisations are dipping their toes in some of these areas, very few are taking a strategic long term approach.

Consider some of the following developments which are revolutionising the way in which traditional IT services are delivered to the user:

  •  Cloud Back-up – Data is moving to the cloud so IT Departments have to understand the cloud, cloud computing as well as the myriad of international data compliance regulations currently in place.
  • Virtualisation – Isn’t IT becoming more and more virtualised? This means the homogeneity of systems is no longer an issue for companies and buying the best or cheapest product regardless of manufacturer tends to be the norm, but it shouldn’t be. Simply start with what you need but ensure the right solution is put in place to allow you to expand with ease and with the minimal of expense.
  • BYOD – Whether you like it or not, Bring Your Own Device isn’t going to go away and is increasingly becoming the reality most businesses face today.  Within our client base, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of enquiries related to this and we have quickly built a reputation as one of the leading installation and support agents for devices, thanks to our strategic relationships with O2 and Zenprise.  The use of such devices moves us nicely onto the next point…
  • Security – For many SMBs, this area is poorly served by the security software industry but there is a gradual realisation by the major vendors, that holistic security for smaller enterprises is just as important and there is a real need to transition them away from their current mish mash of security tools to a more holistic approach.

So what does all this mean for modern IT support in the average SMB? Very simply, they have to expert in cloud technologies, virtualisation, multiple hardware platforms, multiple software disciplines, multiple operating systems as well as a security expert.

This is not realistic or affordable for the average SMB that really needs to be allocating scarce resources to business expansion or service development.

And with businesses no longer just supported by IT but totally reliant on it, any major IT service outage could have really serious implications for the health of that business.

MJ Flood Technology believes in “Business without Boundaries” and we’re passionate about being great at what we do; giving businesses the expertise, quality and level of service they deserve for a fraction of the cost.

I’d appreciate your own opinions or experiences on IT support.  Feel free to engage with me on LinkedIn or on Twitter (@DavidFlood9) or by email ( dflood@mjf.ie ) or we can do it the old fashioned way over a cup of coffee and a chat!

 

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