Information and communications technology (ICT) is the central nervous system of any business. From a start up in the early days of trading to an SME with 500+ employees, it pays to take IT and its management seriously.
There are multiple benefits of outsourcing your IT services. Security concerns, out of date infrastructure and employee growth are three of the biggest drivers for IT spending. As a manager or business owner, if any of these things are on your mind or you’re considering how you will manage your IT needs this year, this article could help you decide if outsourcing IT is the right approach for your business.
From the PCs, laptops or mobile devices you will use, the software and cloud programs that you work from, the security of your data storage, protection from viruses and hackers, and of course the servers and networks your business operates from – IT is everywhere.
Knowing the best way to approach these managed services, hardware, software and cloud based requirements based on your business needs is crucial to the smooth running of your company.
Most people don’t really think about IT until it goes wrong but if you want to minimise the chance of business disruption, keep your staff online, and have a plan ready should things unexpectedly go wrong, an outsourced IT management company could be just what your business needs.
Here we cover 14 benefits of outsourcing your IT management.
Outsourced IT Services vs In-house IT Management
IT outsourcing is the process of handing some or all of the responsibility for running your IT infrastructure to a company external to your business. IT outsourcing is great for companies who don’t want the overheads or don’t have the space to host a dedicated in-house IT team.
It can be very expensive to set up an in-house IT team that is capable of supporting a growing business. IT professionals can command salaries of £45k plus and even the most experienced IT engineer will have gaps in their knowledge and only has so many hours in the day. Outsourcing means you have access to a larger team, with a variety of specialisms and broader range of coverage, meaning your business is less likely to be affected by knowledge gaps, sickness, holidays and out of hours disasters when it comes to IT.
A Dedicated Team Without the Overheads.
IT companies have multi tiered levels of experience that you can call upon. When outsourcing your IT needs, you will likely have the benefit of both a first response team who are familiar with your business, and a wider pool of expertise when you need it.
Your core account team will often include an account manager, front line helpdesk support and an experienced IT strategist to support your day to day needs. Outside of this first line of support, there will also be specialists in networking, office 365 migrations, compliance and IT security available to name a few.
It would be nearly impossible to recreate this breadth of knowledge in-house without massive staffing and equipment overheads. Outsourcing IT is an efficient and cost effective way to access a wide skill covered by a monthly fee that is manageable for your business.
Service Level Agreements
As a business owner, when it comes to outsourcing work, it can be natural to worry about data privacy, quality of service delivery or management of the supplier. Service Level agreements (SLAs) are common place in the IT industry and are a brilliant tool for ensuring each side knows what is expected of them and what will happen if terms are breached.
By using SLA’s, you can set expectations for the quality and speed of the service you expect, and what key business priorities need to be met when working with an outsourced supplier. By agreeing these things in advance you are likely to enjoy a productive and amicable working relationship with an outsourced IT supplier.
You Can Seek Recommendations Before Committing
When looking for an outsourced IT company, you have the benefit of being able to research their previous work to make an informed decision before signing on the dotted line and spending any money. Ask about customer retention rates, seek out reviews from other customers and speak to several suppliers to ensure you find the right match of people, skills and expertise for your business needs. Never be rushed into making a decision and consider a trial period to ensure the relationship will work for both sides before committing to any long term contracts.
One Contact for a Range of Managed Service Needs
If you have managed services as part of your contract, your IT company will be contracting certain elements of your IT support to external companies. Typical managed services include telephony, virtual private networks (VPNS), data back ups, firewalls and network monitoring. The benefit of managed services is that you only have to deal with your IT contact and they deal with the negotiations, service agreements and work involved in keeping these vital systems online with the supplier on your behalf – an excellent time resource!
Breadth of Service
We have touched upon the variety of skills an outsourced team could bring to your business above, but what does that look like in terms of service delivery? The services covered by outsourced IT suppliers are vast to ensure your every IT need can be met and typical services include:
- Helpdesk – troubleshooting and support
- IT projects – scoping, planning and delivery
- Cloud IT support – internet based data storage and programs to run your business
- IT security – keeping your data and systems secure from external threats with backups and firewalls
- IT compliance and assessments – meet industry or regulatory compliance needs
- Microsoft Office 365 – managing the most well known email and office applications in the world
- Network design, management & monitoring – building IT infrastructure that works for your business
Each of these IT service areas require a specific set of skills, expertise and knowledge to deliver successfully but are easily accessed via a reputable IT company.
Keeping Track of Business IT Needs
Do you have different departments with varying IT needs? From design software for the marketing team to accounting packages or HR systems, and in the field applications for your fee earning team, keeping track of requirements, renewals and options available can be a full time job in itself! Outsourcing this as part of your IT management will ensure your team always has the right tools to do the jobs you need doing.
Training Skills and Knowledge
An outsourced IT company will want to provide the best service and advice possible to ensure they can keep their clients happy. As such, they are likely to invest in the on-going training and development of their staff and stay on top of new technology available. By working with an outsourced IT company, you can take advice from people who have seen the latest trends, products and technology working in the real world which can help you decide if the ‘latest thing’ is actually right for your business before you follow the trend.
Control Costs and Plan Ahead
Outsourcing IT will usually mean paying a fixed monthly fee for the level of support you need, or will be priced on a cost per user basis. The benefit of this is that you will always know what you can expect to pay each month – great for budget forecasting.
When working with an outsourced IT company, IT infrastructure projects are likely to be planned for in advance during IT strategy meetings at the beginning of the year. This means you should have a clear idea of what systems, software or hardware, will need addressing, renewing and replacing throughout the year, along with an idea of the cost involved.
These project costs will be on top of your monthly fees but by working with your outsourced team to plan ahead when it comes to managing and maintaining your IT infrastructure, there is less chance of unexpected bills and you can spread the cost of planned projects as required.
When running a company day to day, it can be hard to view your business objectively. You know you’re delivering a great service or selling amazing products, but could the way you do this be improved?
The right external IT company will be able to spot areas within your business setup that could be improved to save you money, create process efficiencies with technology, and introduce an IT strategy that compliments the goals you have for your business. For example, if you want to increase your turnover by 20% this year, one option could be to cut the time it takes to get jobs done with new technology or IT training.
24/7 Security and Peace of Mind.
Your IT security and network doesn’t stop working when you do. If your server decides to go offline overnight, or your systems become exposed to a potential threat out of business hours, without the right support in place, you could see disruptions to business continuity. With outsourced IT services, you can choose a level of support that covers for these eventualities and provides 24/7 monitoring. This means that should anything go wrong, you can rest assured that the technicians will be alerted and will probably have you back up and running before you’ve even got to work in the morning!
IT Disaster Recovery
Would you know what to do in the event of a fire, flood or power cut? Would you have the people and resources available to get everything back online? Having a plan is one thing but having the expertise to get you up and running in no time is another. Outsourced IT companies tasked with disaster recovery planning and implementation could save you a lot of worry and money by ensuring your data is backed up, easy to retrieve and have plans and equipment in place to help you back up and running as quickly as possible in the event of an unforeseen disaster.
Compliance and Security
The software and programs you use to run your business all need to be secure, and require updates or security fixes from time to time. By working with an outsourced IT team that knows how and when to perform these key tasks, you can demonstrate that your business has processes in place and can meet any compliance requirements set by your industry.
When outsourcing IT, you can look for symbols of quality such as ISO 27001 certification. This is the internationally recognised standard for information security and shows the company has dedicated processes, procedure and systems for managing IT security.
Better Pricing for Hardware and Software
IT companies generally have access to offers and pricing for hardware and software that might not be available if you were to purchase direct from the supplier due to their bulk buying powers. As your outsourced IT company will have a birds eye view of your IT needs, it will be able to spot where cost saving benefits for new purchases exist.
In conclusion, whether you’re looking for day to day ‘business as usual’ support, IT strategy, or need specialist advice for an upcoming project, outsourcing your IT needs could be a cost effective solution to consider for your business.
You should base your decision on whether to outsource your IT needs on what is best for your company and could even consider a hybrid approach where you have an IT contact in house to funnel IT based work through to your outsourced management company.
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Get in touch to speak to experts with over 30 years of experience for advice on setting up IT support that is perfectly suited to your business needs and budget.