The big IT dilemma: Internal vs. managed IT services

Author: Leon Windsor  |  Date published: April, 29, 2024, UK  |  Read est: 7 min read

Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group

In the digital age, your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business. It keeps your teams connected, safeguards sensitive data, and ensures that your communications are seamless. So, the million-dollar question is, should you handle IT internally, or is it smarter to phone a friend (i.e., outsource)? This guide dives into the pros and cons of each approach, aiming to demystify the IT conundrum.

Here at Focus Group, we make it our mission to connect all your essential business technology. This allows you to concentrate on scaling your operations and upskilling your team—because let's face it, while IT is crucial, it's hardly the party section of your business plan.

So, when it comes to IT solutions, should you be IN(ternal) or OUT(sourced)? Let’s find out.

What is the difference between an internal and external IT team?

Internal IT Team

This team consists of employees who are part of your organisation. They work exclusively for your company, often from within your office premises. Being on the payroll, they are integrated into your company culture and are directly involved in the daily operations and long-term planning of your business’s technology strategy.

External IT Team (Outsourced)

An external IT team, on the other hand, is not employed directly by your company. Instead, they are part of a third-party service provider, like Focus Group, that you contract to manage and support your IT needs. This team operates independently of your company and serves multiple clients, not just your organisation. They can provide a range of IT support services from remote locations and are not embedded in your company culture or day-to-day operations.

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages but the decision of selecting the right solution for your business can depend on several factors, including:

  • Your business size
  • The complexity of the IT environment
  • Your industry
  • The budget available for IT services
Person typing on laptop with coffee to their left

Advantages of an Internal IT Team

Responsibilities of an internal IT department generally cover three main areas of work: the business’ technological systems, maintenance of its digital and technological infrastructure and ensuring that all systems function together effectively. They also commonly deal with a company's hardware and software needs which are often used by employees across the entire business, which is why it can be beneficial to have them in-house.

  1. Immediate Accessibility: Having an internal IT team means having on-demand access to support. They are available to address tech issues and emergencies quickly because they are physically present in your company.
  2. Deep Business Integration: An internal IT team is deeply familiar with the specific needs, challenges, and objectives of your business. This familiarity allows them to tailor IT solutions that are closely aligned with your company’s strategies and processes.
  3. Control Over IT Operations: With an internal team, you have complete control over your IT operations. You can direct your team to prioritise certain projects or tasks according to your business’s needs without external influences.
  4. Data Security and Privacy: Having an internal IT team manage sensitive information keeps data control within the company, reducing the risk of external breaches and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.
  5. Cultural Fit: Internal IT staff are part of the company culture, which can enhance collaboration and communication between IT and other departments. This alignment can lead to more cohesive team dynamics and a unified approach to business goals.

Disadvantages of an Internal IT Team

  1. Higher Costs: Maintaining an internal IT team can be expensive. Costs include salaries, benefits, training, and possibly additional expenses for recruiting and retaining top talent. There’s also the overhead of the necessary technology infrastructure.
  2. Resource Limitations: Smaller companies might find that their internal IT team lacks certain specialised skills that could be necessary for advancing their technology goals. Continuous professional development is required to keep the team updated, adding to expenses.
  3. Scalability Issues: Scaling an internal IT team to match business growth can be slow and costly. As your company expands, the demand on your current IT team can lead to overstretching resources and potential burnout.
  4. Vacation and Sick Leave Gaps: Coverage during times when staff are on leave can be challenging. You may face periods where no IT support is available unless you hire additional personnel or have a contingency plan in place.
  5. Risk of Technological Stagnation: If an internal team becomes too isolated, there is a risk of missing out on new technologies and practices that external IT professionals might be more aware of. Keeping up with technological advancements requires ongoing education and exposure, which can be resource-intensive.
Women in a room with laptops talking to each other

Advantages of an Outsourced IT Team

While internal IT support can be beneficial to some businesses, external IT teams bring a wide range of advantages that can help businesses meet their IT goals more effectively. An external IT support team consists of trained professionals who work to maintain your business’s IT infrastructure and ensure that it runs smoothly.

  1. Cost Efficiency: Typically, outsourcing IT services can be more cost-effective than maintaining an internal team. This is because you avoid the overhead associated with salaries, benefits, training, and managing an in-house staff. Outsourced services often operate on a subscription or pay-per-use basis, providing flexibility and scalability in managing costs.
  2. 24/7 Support: Many outsourced IT providers offer round-the-clock support, which is crucial for businesses that operate beyond the standard 9-to-5 or in multiple time zones. This ensures that IT issues can be addressed promptly at any time, reducing downtime and maintaining business continuity.
  3. Access to Expertise and Advanced Technologies: Outsourced IT teams often have a broader range of skills and experience, as they work with multiple clients across different sectors. This exposure to varied IT environments and scenarios can bring advanced knowledge and innovative solutions to your business that you might not get from an in-house team. From cloud services to general support, they have you covered across the board.
  4. Scalability and Flexibility: Outsourcing allows you to easily scale your IT support up or down based on your business needs without the logistical and financial burden of hiring or laying off staff. This can be particularly advantageous for businesses experiencing growth or those with fluctuating demands.
  5. Focus on Core Business Functions: With IT responsibilities handled by an external provider, your company can focus more on its core business areas. This can lead to better allocation of resources towards areas that directly contribute to revenue and business growth.

Disadvantages of an Outsourced IT Team

  1. Less Immediate and Personalized Service: While remote support is efficient, it lacks the immediacy of having an IT staff on-site. Issues that require physical presence may take longer to resolve, and some companies may miss the ability to have face-to-face interactions.
  2. Potential Security Risks: Entrusting sensitive information to an external party carries inherent risks. Concerns about data security and privacy can be significant, especially if the outsourced service provider has access to your company’s critical data and systems.
  3. Integration Challenges: An external IT team may not have an intimate understanding of your business's unique culture and operational nuances. There can be a learning curve as the service provider gets acquainted with your company’s specific IT environment and needs.
  4. Communication and Control Issues: With an external team, you may face challenges in communication and a loss of control over IT operations and priorities. Misalignments can occur if expectations, goals, and methods are not clearly defined and regularly reviewed.

Choosing whether to use an internal or outsourced IT team involves balancing these pros and cons against your business’s operational requirements, budget constraints, and strategic goals. Outsourcing can offer significant benefits in terms of cost savings and access to a wider range of expertise, but it also requires careful management to mitigate potential downsides like security risks and integration challenges.

Working with Focus Group

Choosing the right IT support structure is critical, but equally important is selecting a partner who understands the intricate needs of your business and can seamlessly integrate with your goals. Focus Group stands out as a premier partner in this regard, offering extensive expertise in business technology that is tailored to help your company thrive.

With Focus Group, you're not just outsourcing your IT needs; you're investing in a partnership that understands the importance of connectivity in today's digital landscape. Focus Group excels in joining up services to create a cohesive IT environment that not only supports internal operations but also enhances your connections with customers. This alignment is crucial for businesses looking to expand their reach and improve customer engagement.

By collaborating with Focus Group, you benefit from a team of IT specialists who are committed to your business success. They bring a wealth of knowledge and innovative solutions that ensure your technology is not just functional but also a strategic asset that drives business growth. Whether it’s optimising your existing systems, deploying new technologies, or providing round-the-clock support, Focus Group is equipped to handle all aspects of your IT needs.

So get in touch with us today, and find out how we can make your life easier.

Leon Windsor photo

Leon Windsor
Head of IT

Leon Windsor has 20 years of experience in the technology sector. His role is to continually deliver new and innovative product and service offerings to our customers, ensuring the products we offer are designed with each individual customer in mind. Leon ensures IT is at the forefront at Focus Group, helping to add genuine value to our customer propositions and ensuring we are so much more than just a convenient ‘one stop shop’.

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