Let’s take care of IT! In short, every business needs to consider how to manage its IT infrastructure. Let’s face it, IT plays a key role in keeping people connected, is invaluable when it comes to communication and is crucial when it comes to protecting sensitive information and data.
The question is, do you choose to manage your IT internally or do you outsource IT backup and support services to a third-party provider? It can be a challenging decision so in this article, we look at the pros and cons of the different options available, with a view to helping you decide which is best for your organisation.
We all know IT is important so let’s review whether you should be IN(ternal) or OUT(sourced)!
Internal IT services
Internal IT services are typically handled by a dedicated in-house team which is responsible for managing the technology infrastructure, applications and user support. The alternative is to outsource IT services which are provided by an external provider which specialises in delivering IT support to businesses.
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
Let’s explore the pros and cons of both internal and outsourced IT services to help businesses just like yours make informed decisions when it comes to managing your IT operations.
What are internal IT services?
Naturally, internal IT teams will look different in every business. Depending on the business size and industry, the most common and important roles to ensure the smooth running of an IT team include:
- Hardware Technicians
- A Network Engineer
- A Network Administrator
- An IT Project Manager
- A cyber security architect
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.
Benefits of internal IT support
Quick support and efficient response rates
When employees encounter technical issues or have questions regarding their devices, software, or systems, having an in-house IT team readily available to address their concerns ensures the prompt resolution of any problems. This not only saves time for employees but also helps maintain their productivity.
Additionally, internal IT support teams can proactively monitor the business’s systems, identifying and resolving potential issues before they become major problems. Quick support and response from an internal IT team can make all the difference in ensuring smooth operations and minimising downtime for your business.
Understand the business inside-out
Internal IT teams will possess an in-depth understanding of the business’s operations, goals and objectives, which allows them to tailor services to meet the unique needs of the business.
This crucial business understanding enables IT teams to provide customised solutions that align with business strategies, budgets and resources, leading to more effective and efficient IT operations.
Internal IT departments can collaborate with other departments to identify opportunities for technological innovation that can enhance business processes and boost productivity. The business understanding of internal IT support is crucial in developing a technology roadmap that aligns with the company's long-term vision and objectives.
Direct control over data
With an internal IT team, your business retains complete control over its data, ensuring that sensitive information is not compromised.
Internal IT departments can establish and enforce data security protocols, monitor network activity and detect and prevent data breaches. Additionally, having direct control over data allows bespoke IT systems designs that meet specific needs, such as data storage, retrieval and analysis.
This also helps to ensure compliance with industry-specific regulations, providing peace of mind and reducing the risk of data-related legal and financial issues.
Remaining in direct control over business data is a valuable asset for any business that relies on data for its operations, decision-making and growth.
Tailored to your needs
Internal IT teams can provide bespoke solutions that are tailored to the company's unique needs and requirements.
This approach ensures that your business’s IT infrastructure is optimised for relative (and in some industries, specific) operations, improving efficiency, productivity and overall performance.
With an in-depth understanding of the business’s operations and objectives, internal IT departments can develop and implement solutions that align with your business’s core strategies, budget and overall resources.
Tailored solutions can enable businesses to stay one step ahead of the competition by leveraging cutting-edge technologies that enhance capabilities and improve customer experience.
Loyal team, integrated into your office culture
Having a loyal internal IT team that is integrated into the office culture is a valuable benefit of internal IT support.
Allowing for development and a deep understanding of business culture, values and mission, internal IT teams can provide solutions that align with your business goals, values and strategies.
With the additional benefit of building strong relationships with other departments, internal IT teams can enhance collaboration and communication across the business.
Overall, a loyal and integrated IT team can provide significant benefits, including improved efficiency, productivity and morale.
Cons of internal IT support
One of the significant downsides of relying on internal IT support is the higher costs associated with it, ultimately making it unachievable to some smaller businesses.
Maintaining a reliable in-house IT department requires hiring and training skilled professionals, providing them with competitive salaries and benefits, and investing in expensive hardware and software infrastructure.
Additional expenses include the cost of continuing education and keeping up with the latest technological advancements. These expenses can add up quickly and strain your business’s budget, leading to costly mistakes and potential downtime.
Limited cover on holidays/sickness
Another disadvantage of relying on internal IT support is limited coverage and support during holidays or other periods of absence.
IT issues can arise at any time, making it crucial to have a team that can respond promptly to resolve them. If left unresolved, issues can lead to extended periods of downtime and lost productivity, which can be costly for your business.
Furthermore, if the IT team is understaffed, the workload may be spread thin, resulting in delayed response times and increased frustration among both employees and customers.
Gaps in skills
Skills gaps can be a significant drawback of relying on internal IT support. Technology is constantly evolving and IT professionals must keep up with the latest developments to stay relevant.
However, without ongoing training (that can also cost your business) internal IT staff may not have the necessary expertise or experience to handle new or emerging technologies, which can lead to significant gaps in your business’s IT capabilities.
The loss of experienced staff members can also lead to knowledge and skills gaps, as well as disruptions in IT services.
High staff turnover in a competitive environment can be another potential drawback of relying on internal IT support.
As the IT industry is fast-moving and extremely competitive, it can be challenging for businesses (especially those with smaller budgets) to retain skilled IT professionals for an extended period.
Recruiting and training new IT staff can also be time-consuming and costly. By ensuring employees do not feel overworked or undervalued, your business can reduce employee churn and reduce the risk of skilled staff leaving for better opportunities.
In many businesses, the IT department is responsible for a broad range of tasks including hardware and software maintenance, user support, security and network administration.
When the workload exceeds the capacity of the team, IT staff may feel overwhelmed and struggle to keep up with demand which can lead to delays in resolving IT issues, increased downtime and reduced productivity.
Managed IT services (AKA External IT services)
What are managed IT services?
When it comes to managing your IT needs, there are many reasons to outsource your business’ IT support.
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.
Responsible for a broad range of tasks, including hardware and software maintenance, network management, cyber security, data backups and disaster recovery, outsourced IT team’s primary objective is to ensure that the business’s IT systems are secure, reliable and efficient.
Pros of managed IT support
Knowing when to outsource your business IT services is crucial. The benefits of an external IT support team from Focus Group include reduced costs, 24/7 support and scalable next-generation technology solutions. Here’s a little more info on the pros...
Generally lower costs
By entrusting IT functions to specialised external providers, businesses like yours can avoid the expenses associated with hiring and training an in-house IT team.
Outsourced IT services typically operate on a pay-per-use or subscription model, allowing businesses to scale their IT needs according to their requirements, avoiding unnecessary overhead costs.
Eliminating the need for expensive infrastructure, hardware and software (as these responsibilities are transferred to the service provider), the cost-efficiency of outsourcing IT services allows you to allocate your resources thoughtfully and focus on your business’s core competencies while benefiting from reliable and affordable IT solutions.
Great customer service
Outsourced IT services by Focus Group provide the distinct advantage of exceptional customer service to businesses.
By entrusting your IT needs to specialised service providers, your business can tap into a wealth of expertise and resources dedicated solely to your technological requirements.
This focused attention translates into prompt and efficient customer support from an outsourced IT provider that is well-equipped to handle enquiries, troubleshoot issues and provide tailored solutions with efficiency at the forefront of all operations.
Our dedicated support teams are available around the clock, ensuring minimal downtime and swift resolutions, which ultimately foster customer satisfaction, enhance productivity and cultivate long-term relationships.
Scalability is a significant benefit that comes with outsourced IT services.
As businesses grow and technological needs evolve, outsourced IT providers can readily accommodate these changes.
Whether it's expanding your business infrastructure, increasing storage capacity, or deploying additional software and hardware, outsourced IT services from Focus Group offer the flexibility your business needs to scale resources up or down as required.
This eliminates the need for your business to invest heavily in costly infrastructure and internal IT staff, allowing you to adapt quickly to market demands while maintaining optimal efficiency.
Outsourced IT services provide a scalable solution that aligns technology resources directly with your business growth, enabling you to focus on your core competencies without being limited by internal IT capabilities.
More staff at hand/breadth of knowledge
Outsourced IT services offer the invaluable benefit of extensive knowledge and expertise in the field.
By choosing Focus Group as your outsourced IT support provider, you’ll have access to a team of specialised IT staff that possess a wide and diverse range of professional IT skills, and experience across various technologies and industries.
Our experts stay up-to-date with the latest advancements, trends and best practices to ensure the businesses we serve receive top-notch IT services and solutions.
With a broad skill set, our team of outsourced IT providers offer strategic guidance, implement robust systems and address complex technical challenges.
By leveraging the extensive skills and experience of our outsourced IT support team’s knowledge, you can make informed decisions, enhance efficiency and stay ahead of the competition in the ever-evolving landscape of technology, putting your business one step ahead of the rest.
Round-the-clock coverage from the IT experts at Focus Group is guaranteed! With a dedicated team available 24/7, your business can rely on immediate support and assistance, regardless of the time or day.
By outsourcing your IT support, you’ll ensure minimal downtime and swift resolutions for any IT-related issues or emergencies that may arise. The constant availability of our support teams will help you to maintain uninterrupted operations, especially in today's digital landscape where downtime can have severe consequences.
Outsourced IT services offer you peace of mind, knowing that expert assistance is just a phone call or email away, any time of the day or night.
Robust cyber security
With the ever-increasing threat of cyber-attacks, businesses need comprehensive security measures in place to safeguard their valuable data and systems.
Our team of outsourced IT providers specialise in implementing and managing robust cyber security protocols including firewalls, encryption, intrusion detection systems and regular vulnerability assessments.
With a vigilant team that continuously monitors and responds to potential threats promptly, you’ll ensure your business security posture is prepared should the worst happen.
By leveraging the expertise of Focus Group’s outsourced IT services, businesses can mitigate risks, strengthen defences against cyber threats and ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of critical information assets.
Cons of managed IT support
The pros of outsourced IT support are clear but we also need to take this opportunity to review the potential downsides because we’re here to provide a balanced perspective and ensure the IT set-up you select is right for you and your business.
A potential downside of outsourced IT support is reduced face-to-face interaction. While remote assistance is convenient and efficient, it may lack the personal touch and compromises the immediate feedback of in-person interactions.
Some businesses may prefer the ability to have on-site IT professionals who can quickly address issues and establish a more direct relationship. However, advancements in remote communication technology and video conferencing can help mitigate this limitation.
Having to get to know a company’s interface
Another potential drawback of outsourced IT support can be the challenge of familiarising an outsourced team with your business’s unique interface.
Many businesses questioning if they should outsource their IT services will prioritise questioning the impact of an external agency working with multiple clients. Concerns, such as longer resolution times or potential miscommunications when addressing technical issues can be easily prevented with the introduction of effective communication, documentation and ongoing collaboration efforts.
While interface complexities are a reasonable concern, Focus Group’s team of external IT support experts prioritise becoming intimately acquainted with the intricacies of our customer’s unique systems and interfaces to maximise the integration of our services across the business and improve overall user experience.
Trusting another company with data
Trusting a business with sensitive data can be a concern when it comes to outsourced IT support. Allowing an external service provider to access your critical business information will always involve risks such as data breaches or unauthorised access, but mitigating these risks with established businesses that have the success of your business at the forefront of their values will ensure you have the right outsourced IT team supporting you.
Before committing to ongoing outsourced IT support (or quite frankly any outsourced service), businesses must thoroughly assess the security measures, reputation, compliance standards and values of the outsourced IT provider to ensure the protection and privacy of their data.
Clear contractual agreements and stringent confidentiality protocols can also help mitigate this risk, but it remains an important factor to consider when opting for outsourced IT support.
Cost of extra services
While the base package may cover essential services, additional or customised services can come with an additional cost. These can include specialised software, hardware upgrades or on-site visits, to name a few.
We would recommend that businesses looking for IT support from an external agency carefully evaluate their business IT requirements and associated budgets to ensure the additional services align with their requirements without exceeding their financial limitations. In many cases, businesses will not require regular audits or services that extend beyond their initial contractual agreements.
So how do you choose?
Regardless of the size of your business, choosing to outsource IT support will remain a choice that is not always easy to make. So when considering outsourced IT support, it is crucial to weigh up the pros and cons to determine what your company values the most. By assessing the size of the issues you are facing, you will be able to ascertain if your business will benefit from 24/7 IT support or whether you have the IT specialists in-house to keep everything up, running and secure.
Are you IN or OUT?
If you're considering outsourcing your IT, we’d encourage you to get in touch. As a reputable provider with expert guidance and tailored solutions, we are well placed to provide your business with the bespoke IT support solutions you need to navigate the complexities of the IT landscape while maximising the benefits for your company.Let’s talk about how outsourced IT management and solutions could set you up for the future >
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’.