Pros and Cons: Outsourced vs. In-House IT Support
IT is just one of the services that can be performed either in-house or outsourced to a vendor. At first glance, it seems counter intuitive for a company to outsource highly-visible or important services. Understanding the things a company must do to handle a service in-house (and keep it running continuously), it becomes more evident why many companies choose outsourcing versus operating a service in-house.
If a service is provided in-house, a company must:
- Locate qualified employees
- Train/Certify (required IT certifications) employees
- Pay employee wages and benefits
- Provide the employees physical workspace
- Provide the required technology items (computer, phone, Internet access, copier, fax machine, etc.)
- Pay telecommunications costs (phone line, inbound toll-free calls)
So does it make sense for businesses to hire a full-time IT professional or outsource their IT needs? Weighing the pros and cons in both scenarios can help determine which option is likely to best serve your company.
In-House IT Support: Pros
Easy access: A tech support person on staff can address issues immediately. Other clients won’t be competing for your IT professional’s time, though there may be other departments doing so.
Cost control: As a full-time employee, your IT professional’s salary remains the same, regardless of the tasks undertaken — for example, troubleshooting a printer problem, setting up a new server, or staying late on a Thursday night to complete network upgrade. This means that your costs remain steady even as your technology needs change. This can be a double-edged sword, however.
In-House IT Support: Cons
Upfront and hidden costs: Hiring a full-time IT professional is an expensive endeavor. Providing that professional with a computer, desk, telephone extension, payroll account and benefits drives the cost up even higher. For many businesses, having a full-time IT specialist with a full-time salary working on staff is too cost-prohibitive to even be considered a viable option. Not to mention the costs associated with ongoing training for IT personnel.
Limited technological expertise: Your IT specialist may be good with Excel and handy when it comes to figuring out why the printer isn’t working, but may not be as savvy when it comes to diagnosing network security issues or upgrading the Exchange server. It’s unlikely that one IT professional will be able to provide expertise for all of your technological needs
Outsourcing IT Support: Pros
Less expensive: All things considered, outsourcing tends to be less expensive than hiring a full-time IT professional in-house. Many costs — such as overhead — are spread over several clients via the agency model. Additionally, your business doesn’t have to worry about costs associated with training or certifying IT staff.
Round-the-clock service: Most professional IT help desk or tech support firms offer their customers 24/7 access to tech support specialists, either by phone or through remote computer access. This means that you’ll have someone to walk you through resetting your email password — even at 2 a.m. What’s more, if your main contact is unavailable for any reason, there will be a substitute that you can count on.
Outsourcing IT Support: Cons
Language or cultural differences: Struggling to understand your tech support specialist can make a frustrating situation even worse. Unfortunately, many businesses choose offshore outsourcing as their least-expensive option, while not considering the time and aggravation spent on communication issues. This can be mitigated either by carefully interviewing various offshore firms and giving them a “test drive,” or by hiring a local firm. The latter may also allow you to have the specialist on-site, which is highly recommended for handling certain IT support needs.
Not part of the team: Because outsourced IT specialists are there only when scheduled or when you need them to fix a problem, you’ll spend time bringing them up to speed when issues do arise or when you want them to provide advice on future technology initiatives. Again, there is a solution: Get an outsourced firm involved in your IT needs on an ongoing basis via “managed services.” This way, the firm can help with routine help desk and tech support issues, and will be more acclimated to your needs and requirements when it comes time to upgrade the network.
And the Winner Is: Outsource Locally
Certainly, all businesses have a variety of options for solving their tech support issues. For most, however, outsourcing is the best option. Outsourcing tech support needs allows businesses to stay focused on their own core offerings without getting sidetracked on IT projects. It also allows businesses access to cutting-edge resources and expertise, without the costs typically associated with staying ahead of the technology curve.
Maintaining the network and ensuring remote users have access to resources. Updating virus definitions and troubleshooting email problems and any number of IT issues can arise on a daily basis. For many businesses, outsourcing may be a better solution.