The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the demand for IT support has increased as companies adapt. Businesses have had to find extra IT staff to deal with the additional help that their employees (many of whom are working remotely for the first time) need. It has also made many business owners consider whether they would be better off outsourcing this key function.
The Pros of outsourcing IT
This is probably the key reason that many organisations opt for outsourcing IT. It eliminates some of the main costs associated with employees such as recruitment, training, sick pay, and pensions.
External IT support can be purchased on a project by project basis and it is usually fairly easy to scale up or down. This is something that will prove to be extremely useful in a scenario where a business is temporarily shut down or experiences a surge in IT support needs.
Specialist IT support providers will have a much broader range of expertise than most in-house teams. Skill gaps can be dealt with far greater ease by going externally as opposed to training existing staff. The search for expertise is also less restricted by location.
Frees up internal resources
Outsourcing IT can mean that employees who were perhaps dealing with it in addition to their main role can focus on other things. This can improve overall productivity by ensuring they spend their time on activities with greater value add.
Better equipment and security
Specialist IT contractors will be more likely than individual organisations to have the best and most up-to-date hardware and software. This is because they will have less pressure to keep such costs low. They are also likely to have extremely high security standards and protocols.
One less worry
Outsourcing IT will reduce the number of things you have to deal with and allow you to concentrate on your core offering. Knowing that the IT side of things will run smoothly without you is a great relief to many business owners. Start-ups, in particular, find this useful as it removes a great deal of work and complexity from their initial ‘to-do’ list.
Whilst all of the above is highly positive, as with anything in life, there are some downsides to be aware of.
The downsides of outsourcing IT
Whilst some may be relieved to see IT functions taken ‘off-site’, others may be concerned about the loss of control over the systems that results. Having ‘in-house’ teams makes monitoring and micro-managing easier.
There is often a gap between what people expect from outsourcing and what they actually get. This is something that can be frustrating. In order to avoid this, it is important to have clearly established terms with regard to timeframes, budgets, delivery, and quality standards.
When any activity is moved off-site, it becomes harder to communicate as effectively and frequently and misunderstandings may occur. It is important, therefore, for the companies involved to have a good relationship. It is also essential to have an agreement in place as to how communication should happen, how frequently, between which (designated) people, and how things should be escalated if needed.
Less control over labour and environmental standards
Some outsourcing companies may be based in different countries where labour and environmental standards may be lower or less well-regulated than in the country where the client is based. This can prove tricky as it may not meet the company’s ethical policy. You should always be fully aware of the workplace practices of anyone to whom you decide to subcontract.
Negative impact on morale
Potentially, replacing an in-house team with outsourced specialists can have a detrimental impact on employee morale. It may cause anxiety in the remainder of the workforce, who may fear their jobs could be at risk too.
In summary, outsourcing IT has numerous benefits which almost invariably outweigh any downsides with careful management.