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    Hiring vs Outsourcing - How Should You Handle Your IT Support?

    For most companies, there’s simply no business without IT. Even if IT isn’t a part of your core business, you’ll almost certainly have sales and admin teams that back up your core focus with work done at laptops or desktops.
    The thing is, IT devices and systems need support – and that means an IT team.
    When it comes to having an IT team, you’ve got two distinct choices. You can either employ your own team – or you can outsource to a ready-made team – a managed service provider (MSP).
    For many people, the gut reaction is that you’ll get better service and better security using your own team – after all, how can you expect another business to be invested in making your own fly? Then again, if IT isn’t your field of expertise, how can you be sure you’re bringing the right people onboard?
    We’ll take a look at what your in-house and outsourcing options look like – to help you decide what’s going to be right for you. 
    What is a managed service provider?
    While most people are familiar with what an in-house IT team is, fewer people have a detailed understanding of what a managed service provider is. 
    It’s worth thinking of an MSP as really just being an IT team that’s based in another building. Most will provide helpdesk style support for your users – as well as more complex infrastructure design and implementation. For instance, if you were looking at implementing an SD WAN infrastructure and wanted to build your understanding, an MSP would help with each step.
    How much does an MSP cost?
    Aside from saying “far less than an in-house team” – it’s actually very difficult to say how much an MSP is going to cost your business. After all, even if you’re following in the footsteps of other successful businesses, there’s going to be plenty of factors that render your business unique – i.e. the data you handle, the users you have, who accesses your data, the size of your operation – and so forth.
    As a result, there’s unlikely to be an off-the-peg solution that fits perfectly. Instead, you’ll probably need to sit down with an MSP and decide exactly what they’re going to do for your business. This’ll be outlined in a ‘service level agreement’ or SLA. Your SLA explains what a provider will bring to the table – and how much you’ll pay for it in return.
    Your SLA should be built on a detailed understanding of what you need from an IT provider and what your business does. You can also expect them to bring a new viewpoint to any growth plans too – after all, if IT’s not your core business, how can you be expected to know what’s possible when you plan to take your business in different directions or grow?
    Why choose an MSP?
    So, is an MSP right for you? It completely depends – and it’s not a decision that you’re going to be able to pass off onto advice you get from an online article. In fact, it’s something you should sit down as a senior team and decide – weighing up pros and cons of both. 
    To get you started, most people consider an MSP to have the following benefits:
    Zero recruitment costs
    It’s suggested that recruitment of a two-person IT team is likely to cost a business around £20,000 – by the time you’ve factored in lost management time, recruitment consultancy costs, interviewing, and so forth. Since bringing an MSP onboard is likely to be done with a single meeting and a few phone calls, you can safely say that working with a provider represents a more cost-effective option.
    No training needs
    When an IT team is onboard, you’ve then got to consider the cost of training. You’re likely to have some in-house training – but there’s the on-going cost of accreditations and certification that comes with working on specific technology. Don’t fancy paying? Hand the cost off onto an MSP – they’ll keep their team up to speed – so you don’t have to worry about it.
    Moving best practice
    Since your MSP is going to be working with a host of different clients – probably across plenty of different industries, they’re going to be at the cutting edge of what’s possible. For you, this means you’ve always got access to best practice approaches (often because they’ve been rolled out elsewhere) and you’ve got cutting edge minds ready to help when you consider how IT might help you grow.
    Predictable monthly costs
    It’s hard to say how much an in-house IT team is going to cost. Sure, you’ve got a predictable wage bill – but you might have skill gaps that you need a consultancy to plug – or sickness cover that requires additional people. With an MSP, your costs are somewhat fixed – as long as you don’t need anything beyond your SLA.
    In-house benefits
    We’ve outlined some positives for MSP’s here – but that’s no to say there isn’t another side to that coin. For many businesses, an in-house team is the way to go. 
    If you’ve got a solid working culture that you don’t think another business would fit into, then you might have no option but to bring your own team onboard. This is often the case if you’re just not happy with the level of security or data protection that an MSP can bring. There’s also an argument for an in-house team having a better view of how your IT needs develop – and understanding the products and services you offer.
    What’s best for you?
    So, is in-house or outsourced best for you? Again, it’s hard to say – it’s something that only you’re going to be able to decide when you’ve got an overview of what you need and what each type of IT support can deliver. Whichever is right for you, it’s vital that your support leaves no holes – downtime is a proven business-killer and data breaches can bring your company to its knees before it’s even started moving in the right direction.

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