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Should you hire a professional IT firm or go internal?

Businesses today wrestle and grapple with the thought of hiring their own technology support staff to support their daily need for IT support without fully understanding the risks and the costs associated with having their own team of technology professionals.

Business owners, C level execs and Managers are attracted to the idea of having a team or a consultant readily available within shouting distance down the hall, basically having an IT resource committed to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, many of today’s business owners across the country are not aware of the total risks their business is exposed to by electing to bring their technology support in-house.

More often than not it is purely a cost based decision, on the surface it may appear to be more cost effective to hire a consultant or employee who is committed as a full time employee. CFOs and Accounting Managers often look only at the cost of having their IT outsourced and or attracted to hiring someone for a few thousand dollars a month as part of their staff will save their company in the long run. This is not the case in reality and having a full time employee will actually end up costing business today more in the long run.

So, what are the advantages of having an IT partner or Managed Service Provider (MSP) who focuses on delivering a complete managed technology solution? There are a number of immediate benefits over having a full time employee. These benefits include:

The average technology professional with five years’ experience may be worth $70,000 plus a year. This is great when you looking at the bills from your IT provider and see that you have probably spent paid the same in their consulting bills for only a fraction of the time. When a business elects to go internal, a $70,000 salary now buys the business one person and not a team of professionals offering depth in expertise and knowledge.

MSP’s will provide around the clock monitoring and coverage throughout the entire term of the contract. When a company hires their own IT staff, now the challenges around vacation scheduling, training and time off from illness impacts the company. An outsourced MSP provides full time IT coverage, but vacations, illness and other absences now are not an impact on your technology support.

There are hidden additional costs when a business elects to hire internally. The costs associated with training can rise rapidly; when you have a trusted IT partner or MSP, training is no longer your company’s challenge. The MSP ensures that the skills of their team are up to date. Combine this with costs associated with procurement of equipment that include iPhones, SmartPhones, laptops and other supplies, expenses can quickly add up. And then there is the added payroll expenses associated with healthcare, payroll and other logistical items.

MSP’s can offer a wealth of knowledge and great resources when needed, offering networks of partners who can support a wide geographical region, or just across town, wherever support is needed. When a company turns to hiring their own staff, this experience often is not available to them and they are stuck with just a single person or a very small team with limited expertise. Now when these skills are required outside of the skills level of their staff, this becomes an additional expense that normally the right IT partner can extend to a company as part of their program.

  • IT technicians always like to be challenged– even the ones that you hire. What happens at the average company when the challenges stop occurring? Boredom is disastrous as lack of incentive can set in quickly. There are two possible outcomes that occur with in-house staff or break-fix providers who deal with these challenges:
  • They choose to leave to seek out challenges – When a company loses a member of their own internal staff, the intellectual property and knowledge goes with them. This leaves a huge void in the understanding of your systems and network layout. With a trusted MSP, this knowledge is retained and companies continue to function as if nothing occurred.
  • Extended repair times – This can be disastrous as well. Many IT expenses are the result of an over extended repair time or emergency billing opportunity. When dealing with a break-fix provider, what is not being accomplished is the attention to the daily needs of your systems and network. Those issues are being managed on an emergency “need it done now we are down” relationship at the highest cost possible. And, there is little incentive to complete the repair quickly when they are billing at their highest rate. MSP’s provide the daily attention to your systems require as the main focus of their services.

Alex Rogers, President and CEO of ARRC Technology a Master Managed Service Provider in Bakersfield, California commented about the value of having a full service managed IT partner and what it can bring to a company. “Employers can be held hostage with the skill set of their break fix technicians or internal employees. Goals to repair issues quickly or stay ahead of the business needs are limited by having one individual skill set on staff or a provider who bills hourly to repair issues. The incentive for them is to take longer to repair the issue. They both make more money this way.”

There are many firms that elect to go with their own in-house IT person or try to complete the needed tasks themselves. However, what seemed like a great idea quickly turns into a huge business mistake that ends up costing them.

Mary Phillips, CFO of New Vision for Independence in California was previously handling her company’s IT needs personally. “We are a small shop with only seven people and I just couldn’t do it all anymore. I sure couldn’t keep up with all the technology and be a CFO at the same time, they are mutually exclusive. Outsourcing our IT returned my time and efficiency to my company.”

Adam Cline, CEO of Kern Glass Company in California was previously heavily involved with his own IT service delivery. “Outsourcing freed me up where I could focus more on the business, growing the business. I was running it, managing it and running everyone’s desktops and I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Shane Swanson, COO of ARRC Technology reminded me that, “Training is a must for our employees. Because we invest in our people, our managed service clients have the benefit of access to all our certified technicians without the pressure of keeping them on payroll. It is a win-win situation for our skilled technicians and our clients.”

When a company elects to retain an outsourced firm over hiring staff, they are getting service from a company who is focused on ensuring the IT needs are being addressed in the most efficient manner possible. Many trusted MSP’s are focused on the bigger picture, ensuring everything is looked after in a company’s environment including:

  • Vendor Relations
  • IT Budgeting
  • Network Monitoring and Preemptive IT services
  • Knowledge Base Management
  • Disaster Recovery Planning
  • Hardware on demand or as a service

Partnering with a trusted Managed Service Provider brings value to any business no matter what the size, what makes more sense to you? Limiting the knowledge, options and having to deal with people challenges such as complacency and boredom or expanding available options by having a wonderful relationship with a trusted IT partner who understands what business needs to grow, increase profits and the importance of the right technology solution.

Stuart Crawford is the President and Chief Marketing Office for Ulistic, a Calgary-based specialty firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. Stuart is reachable through his MSP Coaching website or at 416.840.9106.

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