So your business is growing which is great but whatever sector you’re in, your IT team infrastructure is critical to your business’ success. and you might be thinking about employing an external  IT support company or employing someone in-house to do full-time IT work? They are both great options and you will need to keep your technology up-to-date and your data secure and minimize any downtime. Naturally, there are benefits of outsourcing IT services, such as specific areas of expertise within technical management or help desks to help you optimise your business operations and efficiency.

FirstLine IT is an IT support company based in Oxford, we work with both large and small companies providing IT support services across cyber security, essential IT maintenance, disaster recovery planning, and IT asset management. Often, we work with clients who are unsure about whether to employ in-house or outsource IT support. So, we thought we would run through both the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing IT support so that you can make better commercial decisions about your IT infrastructure.

The Pros and Cons of IT Outsourcing

Cost of Outsourcing IT Support

When considering the advantages or disadvantages of outsourcing IT support, cost to the business vs efficiency and productivity must be considered. Interestingly, outsourcing IT is expected to grow by 30% over the next two years, as businesses become more reliant on home working post COVID19, quantifying whether outsourcing your IT operations will be key to improving team productivity, data security, but also operational proficiency within the business.

It is therefore no wonder that managing costs of outsourcing IT vs having an in-house IT team will be a key business decision for any company over the coming years.

If you employ someone to look after your IT in-house, you will be paying them a full-time salary plus associated employment costs.

Experienced IT engineers do not come cheap, but there is little point in paying a lower salary only to get someone without the expertise you need.

In contrast, most IT support companies these days operate flexible contracts, where you buy just the amount of time you need and can roll over unused hours to the next month.

Or you can pay a fixed monthly price for maintaining your network and supporting your staff.

Although you would be paying an IT support company more per hour than you would an employee, you should only be paying for only a few hours a month. And there are plenty of different services available to suit all budgets, from essential IT support where you work on a rolling contract, pay as you go model for IT support right up to Virtual IT director services, who can strategise your company’s long-term IT vision.

You could strike lucky and find an employee who wants to work part-time, or one who is willing and able to combine IT management with another job in your company.

But people with the right breadth of skills are few, and probably in so much demand that they might not stay long.

In a nutshell, until your company is big enough that you have a network supporting about 100 staff, outsourcing your IT support always works out cheaper than employing someone in-house.

Controlling Your IT Support Team

So why, you may wonder, would anyone even consider employing an IT engineer, when engaging an IT support company is so much cheaper?

The answer really boils down to control. If you employ someone, they basically have to do what you tell them to (within reason).

They are on-site almost all the time. And, particularly if you are the owner/manager, you get their undivided attention whenever you demand it.

With an IT support company, you will be one of a number of clients. Engineers will respond to problems according to the severity of the problem and its impact on the business – not according to how senior you are in your business.

However, most IT support companies offer Service Level Agreements, in which minimum response times are guaranteed, and all but the most serious issues are usually resolved within a day.

Expertise – Internal vs External IT Administrative Teams

Unless you own a very large company, you can usually only justify employing one IT engineer, who has to become something of a jack-of-all-trades.

IT has become such a wide-ranging and complex task that there are bound to be issues that go beyond the scope of a single person.

One of the advantages of outsourcing your IT services is that you are tapping into the knowledge and skills of a team.

Each IT expert will have their own areas of expertise, and naturally keep up with the latest developments, technical advancements, while challenging and supporting each other to grow their experience and knowledge within the IT industry.

Additionally, the team will have an experienced and knowledgeable Technical Director supervising their work should they encounter problems or new situations.

Managing Internal and External IT Support Teams

Another key point to understand when deliberating the benefits of outsourcing IT is managing your IT support team. With only one IT staff member in-house, you cannot offer them much of a career path. There is no clear promotion route, and few ways for them to earn more money. As a result, they will move on fairly quickly and you are left to start again.

With an IT support company, your relationship is with the company. The team will share knowledge of your business so that, even if your regular contact is on holiday, for example, the service you receive will be seamless.

You don’t have to worry about providing training, conducting appraisals, or assessing the quality of technical work about which you know very little yourself.

And it’s a lot easier nowadays to terminate a support contract than an employment contract if things don’t work out or you need to cut costs quickly.

The Shift Towards Cloud Based Services

In a recent survey, 37% of businesses predict that over 50% of their portfolio will be cloud based within the coming years. Cloud based services offer an array of benefits such as large volume of data storage that allows your computer RAM to operate at maximum efficiency due to all data being saved to the cloud.

The negative side of these services can be hacked APIs, and insecure systems that make it easy for hackers to target your businesses data with malware and other harmful cyber attacks.

It is with this that you need to consider how this will impact your IT support team and whether protocols to defend against this will become a pro or con when outsourcing your IT team.

And finally

Do you have anyone in the business to supervise and control the work of an IT engineer?

In my experience, there are a number of situations where an in-house engineer has spent his time and the business’s money building an over-complex and bespoke IT system that is difficult for anyone else to understand and fix once the engineer leaves.

About Firstline IT

Firstline IT is an experienced IT support company based in Oxford that began in 2001, serving companies in Oxford and all over the UK. Firstline IT is proud to offer a range of managed services and support packages to small and large businesses. Get in touch today to find out more.