For small to mid-size businesses, outsourcing IT services is the more cost-effective alternative to hiring and training in-house IT professionals.
In the past, the stereotype of an IT department was one of technicians who resemble Dilbert with a Cat 5 cable in hand speaking in pure Robot. This image underscores one of IT’s biggest hurdles: communication. Because IT professionals often have a language all their own, understanding them becomes its own challenge.
What’s more, in-house IT helpdesks are usually the only people in the office who know the nitty-gritty of the company’s IT setup. IT, already a distant, remote concept, is made even more inaccessible with its complexity.
But while the in-house IT department plays a crucial role in the safekeeping of confidential company data and in making sure all systems are running smoothly, large budgets are often required to onboard and maintain an IT team. Hiring an on-site team means additional hiring and training costs, which might strain a small business’s budget. Further compounding this, every new software and hardware deployment, including the installation of malware protection, could take weeks to manually implement.
Enter: IT Outsourcing
The arrival of outsourcing has helped businesses take on urgent IT tasks without delay. It has allowed SMBs to focus on tasks that directly drive revenue, instead of spending time and resources fixing IT concerns.
In the past few years, as the benefits of outsourced IT have become more tangible to businesses, there has also been an increase in its adoption. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey, more than 70% of companies across various global sectors use some form of outsourced IT solution, while 31% of businesses have reported increasing their use of IT outsourcing.
In addition, Deloitte’s 2018 report reveals that organizations are starting to look into disruptive outsourcing technologies like cloud and robotic process automation (RPA). The vast majority of organizations surveyed (93%) have considered onboarding a cloud solution, while 72% have considered adopting RPA solutions.
If you’re also looking into switching to an outsourced IT support provider, NetStandard lists the benefits and risks that you can expect from making the transition. Let’s start with the benefits.
Benefits of Outsourcing Your IT Support
1. You can manage company expenses better
As startups and SMEs are still in the process of gaining traction and a solid foothold in their selected industry, it’s normal to look into ways to cut costs. An outsourced IT support team helps owners manage their costs better, eliminating costs associated with an in-house team, including equipment purchases, maintenance, and upgrades.
These elements, while essential, make it difficult for businesses to track and manage their finances. Expenses are likely to crop up, from IT employees who quit unexpectedly (pouring any resources spent on training the now-resigned employee right down the drain), to servers that suddenly conk out.
The budget for an outsourced IT support team is usually more consistent, compared with the volatile nature of the expenses you’re likely to incur with an in-house team. This saves your business from being paralyzed by surges in expenses.
2. You can build your unique selling proposition
Especially in saturated markets where a company’s survival is contingent on relevance, businesses need to constantly be on the lookout for ways to innovate. Allowing your brand to become redundant may eventually lead it to fail.
Having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) sets you apart from your competitors. Your USP makes you relevant, and it keeps customers coming back to you, whether it’s because you’re the first in the industry to offer a certain service or you offer the lowest prices on the market.
The flipside is, developing a USP requires you to take on unrelated, time-consuming tasks.
By outsourcing your IT processes, you free up company resources so you can focus on developing your USP. Instead of training an IT team, for example, you may instead direct your budget toward training that boosts productivity or improves the quality of work you deliver, to substantiate your USP. Outsourcing your IT functions allows you to focus on honing what you do best, so you can deliver better than the competition.
3. You can benefit from better security
Security breaches often happen when unscrupulous hackers use social engineering and a combination of other black hat techniques to access and steal confidential data.
IT outsourcing companies are likely to have encountered virtually all forms of attack, and know how to deal with them. As they are already familiar with the techniques hackers employ, they move faster when dealing with security issues. Experts are likely to quickly find a solution, before any damage can be made.
4. You get access to big-business IT resources, minus the hefty costs
Understandably, many small businesses do not yet have access to the sophisticated technology that larger corporations use. They may also lack the resources to match the in-house IT capabilities of big corporations.
Outsourcing levels the playing field by providing access to similar technology and expertise big companies enjoy. Your small business can act “big,” but without having to worry about costly systems installation and maintenance or onboarding of professionals.
5. You get a complete IT toolbox at your fingertips
Imagine this scenario: all your life, you had only been taught how to add numbers. But what happens if, all of a sudden, for whatever reason, you’re asked to subtract, multiply, or solve complicated equations?
This can be how it feels to take on IT issues if you operate in an entirely different industry, or if your company has just begun to implement new technology. There will be a learning curve, and you may wind up spending time solving problems you’ve never encountered before. And as the saying goes, time is money.
Onboarding an experienced IT support company gives you access to a complete IT toolbox, without having to learn the granular details. Because you’re leaving your IT processes and concerns to professionals who know the job from the inside-out, they can get your systems up and running faster, and they can locate and resolve issues more quickly.
Minus the learning curve, you can start projects and generate revenue right away. And as your provider brings their experience and knowledge right at the onset of the project, you get to save time and money.
6. You free up other resources
As an SME or startup owner, you should be devoting your time to developing your products, coming up with winning marketing strategies, introducing your brand to more people, and winning repeat customers. The last thing you should worry about is handling IT-related concerns.
Small businesses and large enterprises alike often turn to outsourcing their IT functions to free up company resources, so they can focus on product development, marketing, and customer satisfaction.
7. You can find more opportunities for growth
If you’re looking to expand, scalability is easy with outsourced IT. If you need more memory, storage, and processors, all you need to do is contact your provider. The same goes if you need an upgrade to unlock advanced system features.
That means you need not worry about moving your budget around. You also don’t have to worry about finding the right person to do the job and dealing with other common HR issues just to find qualified tech personnel who can handle the ramp-up in operations.
Risks of Outsourcing Your IT Support
Naturally, outsourcing your IT processes also has its share of risks. If you choose to work with an IT service provider, you must be prepared to:
1. Receive generic solutions
IT professionals become intimately familiar with the work they do. This familiarity makes them capable of delivering results more quickly and efficiently. But it’s also because of this almost mechanical process that third-party IT professionals may never be able to provide the tailored approach provided by in-house specialists.
2. Be subject to substandard security protocols
Businesses looking into outsourcing IT solution must first evaluate whether the companies they’re considering employs security measures that are just as robust — preferably more so — than their own. This measure is especially important if you’re looking to onboard the services of an offshore company based in another country.
Often, IT outsourcing companies have adequate security protocols, but there is always a risk of one of the employees breaching security. If your choice of company is located in a country that doesn’t have laws protecting intellectual property or private data, it can be a challenge to prosecute such illegal activity.
3. Be inconvenienced by indefinite accessibility
If you’re relying on an outside service that caters to other companies, you may have a hard time getting help right when you need it the most. A busy IT service provider may take days before they can devote time and attention to your concern. Without being able to resolve the issues quickly, you run the risk of downtime in a system failure, which in turn impedes your productivity. In some cases, this translates to thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
Your Choice of Outsourced IT Provider Matters
It’s true that transitioning your IT functions from in-house to a third party entails risk. Making even the smallest changes may also seem daunting, especially for startups that are still trying to find stability. The same is also true for organizations that don’t see the need to fix a system that works.
But growth requires change. And if there’s one thing established companies have learned, it’s to never pass up an opportunity to learn, to change, and to grow.
Outsourced IT support gives you opportunities to free up internal resources, so you can concentrate on staying relevant to your industry of choice. It gives you chances to explore new avenues for growth, and to compete with the big fish in your industry.
Change is not a bad thing, and transitioning from an in-house team to an outsourced IT provider shouldn’t be daunting. You only need to be mindful in choosing your service provider.
Reputable outsourced IT providers are serious about malware security, preventing zero-day attacks, and other intrusions. They also constantly monitor and update their protection schemes. For many SMBs, outsourcing provides a more secure and frequent backup solution compared to their existing IT setup. What’s more, as the data is kept off-site, it is better protected because first, it exists in two locations and can be reasily restored if needed; and second, it’s safe from environmental elements.
Finding a provider who has experience working with small businesses also gives you an advantage. Because they know the challenges faced by SMEs, they’re likely to be able to arrange solutions or packages that will not disrupt your budget.
Leave Your IT Functions to Us
Taking all these into consideration, the key to a worry-free transition from in-house to outsourcing lies in partnering with the right company.
NetStandard brings more than two decades of experience implementing strategic technology solutions for SMEs. Outsourcing your IT functions to us enables you to keep up with day-to-day support and to remain abreast of recent technology updates. Our work goes beyond providing IT solutions — we evaluate your technology’s current state and create a strategy that positions you as an innovative and competitive player in your market.
By outsourcing your IT to NetStandard, you can forget about security or capability risks. We operate our own private data centers, which have been audited to make sure they meet SSAE16 Type 2 standards. Our facility hosts customers from both our cloud and managed services environments. Our stringent security protocols allow us to support businesses in many regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and government.
NetStandard is a Microsoft Dynamics Partner, allowing us to implement and provide support for a wide range of Microsoft products through our proprietary cloud computing platform, Myappsanywhere. As a NetStandard client, you can customize our cloud computing business solutions through more than 50 Myappsanywhere Cloud-approved Independent Software Vendor applications.
Some of the outsourced IT services we handle include server and network maintenance, cloud and hosted services management, disaster recovery, configuring and managing firewalls, and emergency IT services, as well as helpdesk/service desk support and contract IT staffing services.
Our team responds to your queries and concerns in the soonest time possible. And as a business that has been serving the needs of small-to-medium businesses for decades, we can be relied on to create a service mix that suits your business’ technology needs, without going beyond your budget.
NetStandard provides services across the country, but Kansas City is our home. We invite you to stop by and take a tour of our data center facility in Kansas or visit our Overland Park client services site.