TL;DR: An outsourced IT department is a good idea if your business is looking to reduce your IT labor costs and increase your flexibility. This is the case whether you’re looking to transition from an internal, local IT department or setting up your IT department from scratch as a growing business. And the best way to Shift or Outsourcing IT to a Managed Services Provider (MSP). Let’s take a look at why.
Why Companies Outsource IT Before Anything Else
IT and tech support are some of the first things that businesses outsource. Here’s why that is.
IT employees are expensive. Most IT positions start at 40K and go up rapidly from there. They’re also complex positions that can’t be easily cross-trained for other responsibilities.
Many IT management responsibilities can be automated. IT employees don’t literally have to stand in front of servers or any other IT asset and watch to make sure they’re working and secure. Automated management tools will alert them as soon as something bad happens. Other automated tools handle updates, restarts, backup processes, and other tasks, allowing IT services companies to effectively monitor and manage the IT of a lot of different businesses at once.
Most businesses have IT needs that change and fluctuate over time. Outsourcing gives you greater flexibility at lower cost. You may need a lot of help with something in the short term, but little to no help in the long run. Perhaps something goes wrong with your SAN array for example. An IT services company has someone ready to help with that. An internal IT department might not, and have to find someone to work on a temporary or contract basis.
Another example is having to hire seasonal workers. You’ll need increased IT resources to support these employees. With an IT services company you just have to pay them an increased per user/seat per month for the season. Internally you’d have to go to the trouble to recruit, hire, and train a temporary worker.
What Do You Get with an Outsourced IT Department?
These are the responsibilities that an IT department needs to handle, outsourced or not.
Procurement and setup. Someone has to buy and set up all your IT hardware, software, and services, including PCs, servers, networks, and cloud solutions.
High-level IT planning and management. Someone has to be steering the IT ship, recruiting and training staff, and advising the company’s business leaders on making sure IT is aligned with the business’s goals, meeting KPIs, and setting and staying within a reasonable budget.
Day-to-day monitoring and management. You need someone monitoring what’s going on with your IT at all times, so that important issues are dealt with quickly and not overlooked, and providing routine maintenance such as applying updates and archiving inactive data.
Security. Protecting your data from unauthorized access, including by implementation and management of firewalls, antivirus, network segmentation, permissions, and account management.
Backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Someone has to make sure that your IT is backed up, prepared for any contingency, and able to maintain as much uptime as possible within your budget.
IT support. Someone has to be around to fix problems, respond to alerts and alarms, and provide quick tech support to all the users in the organization.
Benefits of Outsourcing IT to an Managed Service Provider
Lower costs. The efficiency and scalability of IT services companies allows them to provide IT management and support at lower cost than in-house employees.
24/7/365 availability; no breaks or vacations. A common problem with having a small in-house IT team is what to do if they’re off for the day or on vacation. They may not be available in the event of an emergency, and in any case the pressure of always being on call can wear on them over time and lead to burnout. Most IT services companies have an overnight team to keep you covered 24/7/365.
Faster support and incident response. IT services companies generally have more people available during more hours of the day than in-house teams, which means someone is always there to respond to urgent requests for support and to system alerts.
More skills, knowledge, and experience. This isn’t a dig at internal IT employees. A few people can only know so much and have so much experience. The large team at an IT services company are more skilled and experienced because they’re more people. Also, the large team allows the staff at IT services companies to specialize in certain skills like cloud, virtualization, and security, while internal IT employees often have to be jack-of-all-trades.
No need to scramble if something happens. If an emergency or project comes up that someone in your company can’t handle, you don’t have to scramble to find someone to help – the IT services company should already have a person on staff with the expertise to assist, or at least have a partner or contractor that can take care of it for you.
Industry-best technology. IT services companies have the buying power, specialization, and subject matter expertise to acquire the best IT management, monitoring, and security tools.
Other Types of IT Outsourcing
Onshore or Offshore Internal Outsourcing
Perhaps by outsourcing you mean setting up an IT department in an area where the cost of labor is lower than where your main offices are located. This could mean setting up an IT department in the Midwest or South if you’re in a more expensive urban area on the coastal US, or outsourcing to an overseas location like India, the Philippines, or Eastern Europe.
In this case you’re lowering your labor costs, but you’re still having to deal with the logistics of setting up and managing the IT department, and you don’t get the scalability you get with a managed services company, which can redirect resources without having to take weeks to recruit and train new people.
Full Outsourced IT Department
It’s possible to pay another company to set up and run a full, dedicated IT department for you. As in these employees aren’t really yours, but they are dedicated to serving just your organization as fulltime contractors. In this case you’re outsourcing the management of the whole IT operation, too. But again you’re not getting the increased efficiency and scalability of a managed IT services company.
How to Outsourcing IT to a Managed Service Provider
First, Find a Good One
Look for an MSP that offers 24/7/365 availability, reasonable pricing, custom SLAs and processes to match your business, has been around for a while, and clearly has the ability to support your environment (has worked with businesses of your size or in your industry before, are familiar with your applications, have shown an ability to quickly learn new environments in the past, etc.).
What a coincidence! You’re on the website of just such an MSP right now 😁.
Reach out and request an audit. The IT services firm evaluates your current IT environment, getting familiar with it and suggesting any changes that need to be made. Always great to get a fresh pair of eyes on your IT operations.
Agree to terms. Including on pricing and SLAs and the handover process.
Agent installation. The IT services firm installs tiny, secure software programs called agents that let them monitor and control your IT remotely.
Handover. The handover process proceeds as planned.
What About Onsite IT Support?
There aren’t many IT tasks that require you to be onsite. For those that do, the IT services company can either send someone over if they’re local or activate someone from their network of approved contractors that’s in the area. The IT services firm doesn’t need to be local.
If a company has a lot of onsite IT needs, you can always request insourcing, in which the IT services firm will station one of their employees at your location on a part-time or fulltime basis. This is a common arrangement.