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Hiring In-House IT Staff vs. Hiring a Managed Services Provider

If you own a business, chances are that you use a computer in some degree for normal operations.  If you own a business with multiple staff members, you probably have a network of multiple computers with access to the internet.

Throw in other devices such as printers, e-mail servers, and web sites and you’ve got yourself an infrastructure that will eventually break down and need to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent potentially disastrous income losses due to lack of productivity.

As companies grow more and more advanced, the systems used to run day-to-day operations become quite complicated, and as such, people who are familiar with these systems and how they work need to be hired to keep constant watch and either prevent problems from arising and troubleshoot them when they cannot be prevented.

This is where choosing the right kind of IT staff comes into play.

Most firms with any kind of network or computer-based infrastructure will either have an in-house IT staff, or will contract out their IT needs to a Managed Services provider.

 

In-House IT Staff

If you step foot into any company with more than 50 people, chances are that you’ll find a dedicated IT staff of at least 1 person.  The larger the company gets, the larger an IT staff is necessary to maintain uptime on the company’s systems and network.

If the company is large enough, and things like network security, firewalls, servers, and backups are thrown into the mix, IT specialists will be needed to properly configure and maintain all aspects of the company’s information technology sphere.   In major corporations, it’s common to see an IT staff of 50-100 people, including system administrators, network administrators, a full help desk, and an IT manager overseeing operations.

With smaller companies, however, it’s less common to see more than 1 individual overseeing day-to-day IT duties, let alone a full IT staff.  Typically, the single-person IT staffer at a smaller company is responsible for all-around technical duties, from troubleshooting phones to dealing with connectivity issues and replacing/configuring hardware and software.

The general market value of a competent IT person responsible for all of these duties will average about $100,000 USD.  Some companies can’t afford to pay this much, so it’s very likely to see IT professionals with little to no experience filling these roles and performing basic duties.

 

Managed IT Services

In the past decade, managed services companies started gaining a foothold in the IT field.  Managed services companies are essentially outsourced IT staff.  These companies, usually staffed by a wide-array of technical professionals, often have their own office and use remote services to log into and troubleshoot/configure their clients’ computers.  Instead of paying a salary to each individual, managed services companies negotiate a provisional contract with their clients either based on a flat-fee system or an hourly billing system.

Managed IT Services have 2 key benefits.  First, they have a broader scope of knowledge than most in-house IT staff (due to dealing with multiple clients with differing infrastructures).  Second, they only bill for services performed, so small companies don’t need to worry about having to pay a high yearly salary for competent IT professionals.

Managed service provider offer a wide array of services to their clients.  These include patch management, backups, workstation and server setup and configuration, troubleshooting software, setting up routers and firewalls, setting up phone systems, and serve as a help desk for immediate technical support needs.  Some providers also purchase hardware and software for their clients, saving valuable time for office administrators and business owners.

The main drawback to managed IT services is that they are at a remote location, so anything that requires a physical presence to troubleshoot will require a technician being sent to the location of the problem.  This drawback is highly mitigated if the service provider is in close proximity to the site.

 

Mutually Exclusive?   No.

Having an in-house IT staff doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bother with a managed service provider.  There are many situations where supplementing your in-house staff with a managed service provider can work greatly to your benefit.

Your business may have a large network of computer hardware to maintain, which means that non-physical tasks such as patch management, backing up valuable data, and troubleshooting software are not at the forefront of IT concerns.  Since resources are already stretched thing with the day-to-day operations, the neglect of proper maintenance and backup is an outage waiting to happen.

It would be much more cost and time-effective to divert the non-physical tasks to a manager service provider so that in-house staff can focus their efforts on things that require their physical presence.  This ensures that you have all of your bases covered without having to spend a fortune on maintaining a large in-house IT staff.

You may also have multiple locations that need coverage.  In this case, it would be much easier to have a managed service provider that can remotely log into your systems and troubleshoot your problems instead of having to bounce staff back and forth between locations.

 

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Whether you’re a smaller company with a less complex IT infrastructure or a large corporation with a sizeable IT staff, managed service providers can provide a very useful service.  You can either use them as your primary technical support and IT management solution, or you can have them back up your existing in-house staff and take a support and maintenance role so that your staff can focus on higher-priority or emergency tasks.

Should you choose to pursue a relationship with an IT Consultant, it’s best to be armed the right questions to determine whether it will be a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Here’s a link to our 21 Questions to Ask Your IT Consultant Before You Hire Him article for an idea of what to ask.

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