Running a business is tricky enough but especially in a pandemic. One thing that all businesses need is a robust and reliable ICT system and infrastructure. Such a system allows for growth, improves efficiencies, protects digital assets, and gives the business’s owners peace of mind. Deciding whether or not to outsource all of (or part of) your ICT function is a key decision – and has many implications.
So what elements of ICT can be outsourced?
Depending on the need and the practicalities, elements that can be outsourced include: IT support (desktop troubleshooting), data backup and storage, network maintenance, telecommunications (Inc. VoIP), application/software development, web development/hosting, and database development/management. Alternatively, some businesses may want to fully outsource their entire ICT function.
IT Outsourcing advantages
The main advantages of outsourcing IT are outlined below:
The most obvious and attractive benefit. Outsourcing ICT can save money on: recruitment, salaries, training, hardware/equipment, software upgrades/updates, and even telecommunications. Many outsourcing providers charge a fixed monthly amount for their services, making budgeting easier and costs more predictable and reducing the amount of capital investment required.
The world of IT is rapidly changing and new technologies are constantly being rolled-out and designed. Dedicated IT companies have expertise in all key areas and are always training and upskilling their staff as well as adding new members with specific expertise. This is almost impossible to do internally as it would mean perpetual training and recruitment – and that means less time for troubleshooting and dealing with the issues that are affecting the business. Using external IT support means you can access experts as often as you like and they can deal promptly and effectively with any issues that may arise.
Using an outsourced IT provider means that you will always have access to experts 24/7. Even if your usual account manager/technician is off sick or on holiday, there will be somebody else more than capable of covering for them. With internal IT staff there is not this failsafe – what happens if they are off when something goes horribly wrong?
Peace of mind/focus
Outsourcing your IT will give you peace of mind and assurance that everything is being dealt with efficiently (in the background) by experts. You won’t need to micromanage IT issues and you can spend your valuable and limited time focusing on your core business.
Increased staff productivity
Outsourcing your IT means your employees can easily call an expert technician who can diagnose and fix any problems. This will reduce downtime and allow staff to focus on their core roles rather than trying to deal with niggling computer issues that could reduce their productivity.
Get the latest technology
An outsourced IT provider will be at the forefront of technology provision and will have a variety of accreditations and partnerships with industry leading providers such as Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, and others. They will gain advanced knowledge and training about the latest developments and solutions that they can then recommend to you.
As opposed to in-house teams and systems which are almost always reactive, outsourced IT providers are able to be proactive by continually monitoring systems/system performance. Problems can, therefore, be identified and rectified before they have chance to impact on your business, virtually eliminating downtime.
Potential downsides of outsourcing IT
There are a few downsides to consider. One is a lack of control, whilst others include potential issues with data privacy and disaster recovery. Additionally, there may be an impact on staff morale if employees feel threatened by the contracting-out of key functions.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to outsourcing and very few drawbacks. But, because each business is different, there is no one size fits all solution. Some may decide that a hybrid model best suits whilst others may want the entire function ‘off their hands’.