Please don’t think I’m swerving the question, but I believe ‘cost-effective’ can only be achieved if you tackle ‘effective’ first. After all, you wouldn’t compare a quick instant coffee with a cup of freshly ground fine roast Italian blend – would you?
For your IT to be effective there are just a few key ingredients for the perfect IT team:
- Sound knowledge – covering all aspects of the hardware and software in your business.
- Commercial awareness – it’s easy to spend money in IT; spending it wisely with sound business logic is a tougher challenge.
- Great communication skills – not just at management level, but throughout the hierarchy; it’s critical to providing first-class support.
Next, let’s look at what you need your team to deliver on a day-to-day basis:
- Fast, reactive support to protect your team’s productivity.
- A robust system that is not just fit for purpose, but one that your entire team have confidence in.
- Accountability, so you can be sure your budget is invested in the best possible way.
In-house or out-of-house?
So, back to the big question. Is outsourcing effective? If we look at our criteria above, I would argue that both in-house and outsourced teams can provide all of these things. However, I do believe there are some clear advantages to outsourcing your IT support. Here’s how:
If you don’t get what you need or want, you can act fast
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees. Not just for their safety and well-being, but for professional development, nurturing them to be the best that they can be. This has a price tag, not just in financial terms, but in terms of time, too.
If things don’t work out, or your business outgrows a team member, you can’t simply say ‘adios’ and move on. There are laws, systems and procedures to follow – and with good reason, they are there to protect the interests of all parties. However, fast they are not. What’s the knock-on effect to your business? Your time? Or team morale?
Change in inevitable
William Pollard is quoted as saying: ‘Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.’
All savvy entrepreneurs embrace change. As uncomfortable as it sometimes is, it’s a necessary part of growing a business. So, if you’re running a thriving business, with big goals and ambitions, are you ready to embrace the inevitable change?
In my opinion, very little advances as quickly as technology. There are countless new systems and opportunities coming to market every day – so how do you spot what is right for your business and what could be a costly mistake? Or, worse, how do you ensure you stay up to date with the technology that will keep you competitive? And, more to the point, what’s that got to do with outsourcing your IT?
You see, having a small in-house team can serve you very well, but are those individuals motivated to support the business in every possible way? After all, they’ve got the job – do they need to fight to keep it? Compare that to an outsourced specialist. The very nature of their business requires them to stay ahead of new technology. They will have experienced the highs and lows with many solutions across a range of other companies. Also, their contract will be reviewed. If they’re not providing the business with everything that’s needed, they are unlikely to hold on to the work – that’s a very good motivator for anyone.
Tried and trusted or tentatively tested?
When you do consider a new system, who would you prefer to support you? Someone who has researched, deployed and supported a system for several businesses before yours, or someone who’s just found the new technology that could revolutionise your productivity? I know which I would want.
Mission-critical systems are always at the top of my list. Think of the order processing system, or accounts package, or name any one of the hundreds of systems running in your business – if it’s not working, chances are the business isn’t working, and the cost can soon mount up.
It’s not that an in-house team can’t do the job – it’s a question of if they are the right people to do the job.
If we agree that change is inevitable, new systems and processes will likely be deployed in your business repeatedly. So, what’s the cost for that? There’s the system itself, then there’s the consultancy fees – many systems require expert knowledge and, of course, training. If you want your in-house team to provide ongoing support, they will likely be out of the office for days, if not weeks, getting up to speed. Who will ‘hold the fort’ whilst they’re away?
‘Back on Monday…’
While we’re on the subject of being away, have you ever had a problem and sent an email to support, just to receive an automated ‘out of office’ reply? Remember that sinking feeling? Can you wait three days for a fix?
I think outsourcing is a clear winner in this situation. There’s no way you can ask a small in-house team to compete with a large national team of engineers, there are simply not enough hours in the day. So, if you choose your support package to fit your needs, the days of waiting for a response will be over.
All or nothing
I should point out that outsourcing is not an ‘all in’ choice. We work with many businesses who have a smaller in-house team and use our services as an additional resource – be that for skills sharing, availability for reactive maintenance or simply holiday cover. So, I’m not suggesting that outsourcing is a simple alternative, but it’s certainly worth considering as an extension to your team.
Adding it all up
In summary, if you consider all the costs relating to employing a team, from recruitment, salaries, training, sickness, holidays and more, and add to that the cost of slower response, limited knowledge and opportunity risks, I think you will be surprised by how cost-effective outsourced IT can be.
I believe the only way to gain true value from your IT investment is to take a strategic, proactive approach. Learn more about this in our next article.
Still not convinced? Put us to the test – call our team now and ask us how our charges would compare.