Most businesses these days simply couldn’t function without their IT provisions. Regardless of whether you work within the IT industry, the majority of your staff will rely on their phones and laptops on a daily basis. But where there are devices, support is always needed, and you’ll struggle without a high-quality IT team.
There’s a fork in the road when it comes to choosing your team though: you can employ your own dedicated, in-house team, or you can outsource your IT needs to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Your immediate response might be to assume that an in-house team is superior – after all, you can keep a close eye on them and build a relationship under the same roof – but it isn’t always easy to know if you’re hiring the best people for the job.
That’s why we’re here to give you some tips on how you should make this decision, and which route is best for your business.
Managed Service Providers
Although you’ll certainly be aware of what an in-house IT team looks like, you may not be able to visualise an MSP in quite the same way…
One way to think of an MSP is to view them as a team of IT professionals who happen to be in another building. The majority will provide help desk style advice for your users, in addition to providing the design and implementation of complex network infrastructures. For example, if you were considering introducing MPLS into your network, they would be able to advise you on the best steps to take and assist you through the process.
The Cost of an MSP
Beyond being much cheaper than an in-house team on average, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of hiring an MSP. No matter how many businesses have followed a similar path to you, every company is unique, with lots of factors that are going to affect the ultimate cost of outsourcing – the users you have, the data you handle, the people who can access it, etc.
Because of this, there probably won’t be an off-the-rack solution that fulfills all of your needs. To sort out the best plan for you, you’ll need to have some thorough discussions with an MSP and mutually decide on exactly what services they’ll be providing. This will then be outlined in an SLA, or Service Level Agreement, which explains in detail what you’ll pay for each service, and legally binds the MSP to provide these services.
You need to make sure that your SLA is built upon a deep understanding of your business and IT requirements, and the provider will likely want to offer some suggestions of services you’ll find useful. This viewpoint could be invaluable – after all, they’ll have helped a huge range of companies grow not just their IT infrastructure, but their business as a whole.
The Benefits of Hiring an MSP
Now you know how an MSP operates, let’s start to think about the various benefits it could bring your business. Of course, you’ll need to do research beyond an article or two, but considering the value of each of these advantages is a great place to start:
No Training Needs
If you bring on your own IT team, you need to consider the cost of training them to use the necessary software – and these costs don’t just stop after the first few weeks. As well as the initial training, you’ll have to think about any future accreditations and certifications as your business grows. If you don’t want to have to plan and budget for this, an MSP will keep their professionals up to speed for you.
Access to Best Practice
As your provider will be hired by a range of different clients across multiple industries, they’ll be up to date on everything that’s currently possible in the realm of IT and networking. This knowledge will then be accessible to you, opening up a whole new world of best practice approaches that could prove hugely beneficial to your business, and keeping your company on the cutting edge.
No Additional Recruitment Costs
The recruitment of a two-person IT team can cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, because of factors like lost management time, interviewing, recruitment consultancy costs, and more – and this is before the employee has even finished their first week! Because hiring an MSP can be achieved through a few phone calls, it’s clearly the cheaper option in the short term, and it can allow you to invest in more important areas later down the line.
Straightforward Monthly Payments
Although you might assume that it just consists of monthly wages, hiring an in-house team results in some unpredictable costs. As we previously touched on, you’ll need to pay for any extra training, and factors like maternity pay and sick leave need to be covered. Your costs are much more fixed if you use an MSP, and any extra costs will only be incurred if you request a service not outlined in your SLA.
The Benefits of Keeping Support In-House
So, we’ve gone over the many benefits of outsourcing your IT needs, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of clear advantages when it comes to keeping support under your roof. For instance, if you already have a well established working culture then you may not want to risk changing the dynamic. Or you may be in an industry that requires strict data protection, in which case you may not feel comfortable outsourcing. You may also find that an in-house team is simply more connected to your business ethos, and has a better understanding of your services.
Making The Right Decision For Your Business
Ultimately, this isn’t a decision that this article can make for you; the specific nuances of your business will have to be considered. You’ll need to do more research and speak to a range of providers during this process, but regardless of what choice is right for you, you need to ensure that your security needs are covered, as downtime can be lethal for small businesses.