As your business keeps growing, you’ll probably find that you have more and more options in front of you, and seemingly endless places to invest your hard-earned money, time, and resources. Though you might be drawn more immediately to ideas that sound more exciting – starting a new marketing campaign or beginning research on a new service or product, for instance – you shouldn’t ignore cornerstones of your business like HR, financial management, and IT networking.
These are the oft-forgotten areas of companies that actually hold up much of the rest of the operations and allow them to reach their full potential, and this arguably applies to your IT team and network more so than any other sector of your business.
With this in mind, where do you invest your money to make sure that these vital IT systems are always running to their fullest potential? There are basically two options in front of you: you can employ a full in house team, or outsource your IT support requirements to a third party company. Neither one of these options is completely correct or incorrect, so we’ll help you decide on a direction in this article by going over the benefits and downsides of both!
The Dream Solution
There is one perfect dream scenario for your IT support: hiring an in house team made up of the absolute best in the business. Sadly, this isn’t a viable option for an overwhelming majority of businesses, simply because of how unbelievably expensive it would be – hiring just one highly qualified IT professional can cost as much as $58,000 a year.
But remember, you are paying for the absolute best possible service here, with constant monitoring of your systems, an effective management structure that has nothing but the best people working on your network, and the ability to provide these dream staff members with everything they need (maternity leave, vacation time, and so on). You may even need to add an additional team of people into the mix when you’re thinking of growing your business and scaling up.
Clearly, this perfect solution is only really a reality for well established IT companies, as gathering a team of this caliber would be incredibly difficult for a company not involved in the IT world. What’s the compromise on this solution then?
Working With A Managed Service Provider
In a way, your company can have the dream setup – you’ll just need to look beyond keeping a team at exclusively your disposal. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) provide high quality IT services to hundreds of companies and can be at your service too if you’re willing to share.
The other businesses won’t be able to access any of your data, as your Service Level Agreement (or SLA) will ensure your information is completely confidential. However, you might have to compromise on some other areas – accessibility, for instance, isn’t always straightforward, and your MSP IT manager isn’t always going to be at your disposal. On the other hand, your account manager will be easily contactable, and this reduced accessibility also means a drastically reduced price tag.
Deciding On An SLA That Suits You
Even if your in-house IT team is well qualified and hard-working, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be experts in every single issue they come across on the job. Those that you choose to hire will sign an employment contract before they start working with your company, but this isn’t identical to a service contract.
Basically, an SLA is an agreement that legally binds the provider you’re working with to the level of service that you’ve outlined together on an official document. For example, if they’ve agreed to provide you with 99.9% uptime then the need to deliver on that promise, or they could face some serious legal consequences – this also applies to support issues, such as promising 24/7 maintenance.
Although your IT team can obviously be absolutely brilliant, working hard every day and using their expert knowledge to improve your business, there’s no guarantee set in stone that they’ll deliver on what you’re asking of them. As there’s no legal need for them to provide what you need, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether they’re up to your standard – not the easiest task. If you use a managed service provider, you know exactly what you’re getting, which can (oddly) make you feel more secure than relying on your dedicated team.
Gaining Easy Access To Best Practice
One thing that’s consistent across MSP teams that you can’t really get with in-house staff is the enormous range of best practice approaches they can utilise. This isn’t to say that in-house teams are inexperienced by any means, but by hiring them to work for you, you’re essentially cutting off any other training opportunities. Because they’ll only ever be working with your systems from the point that you hire them, they may struggle with any unfamiliar tech, even if they know your own infrastructure inside and out.
On the other hand, the IT staff at MSPs are always working with a broad range of companies, gaining valuable experience with many different types of networking system as they do so. If these staff has been hired by an MSP, they’ll probably also possess a wide range of qualifications – ones that it simply wouldn’t be viable to provide to every single member of an in-house team.
This essentially equates to a vast array of IT knowledge that can be applied to your current network and to any future network expansions. Where an in-house employee would likely need some time to research a new system you’re interested in, an MSP team would probably already have created a similar system in the past, and can simply apply their previously existing knowledge again, saving valuable time. Just think about how handy this is when you’re wanting to grow your business – successful companies stay up to date on the latest technology, and with an up to date team at your disposal, your company can too.
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