OverviewAt it’s simplest form, IT Support is there to help get the best out of your IT Systems. From setting systems up, to on-going maintenance and repairs, to providing advice, as well as fixing minor niggles along the way. As technology has developed, the term ‘IT Systems’ has vastly expanded and now covers almost anything that touches IT. A non-exhaustive list of these would be:
- Computer Systems (PC’s, Laptops and Servers)
- Networking (Routers, Wireless, Switches)
- Internet Connectivity
- Website Design / Hosting
- Backup / Disaster Recovery
- Telecoms (Phone Systems, Mobile Phones)
- Structured Cabling
- Cyber Security
- The friend or colleague who dabbles in IT
- Employing someone in-house
- Outsourcing to a professional company
BenefitsThe benefits of having someone there to guide you through the increasingly complex world of IT are nearly endless. Benefits of finding skilled IT Support can include:
- Allowing you to focus on your business and not get caught up in day-to-day IT Issues
- Increased staff productivity as IT issues are solved quickly and properly
- Allowing you to properly plan your future goals, then ensuring you have the correct IT systems in place to help achieve those goals
- Taking care of hot topics such as IT Security and GDPR and ensuring you are always protected.
ShortcutsOne thing all IT experts know about is how to shortcut, and I don’t mean those shortcut icons on your desktop. Avoid wasting time with systems and processes that are cumbersome, slow and essentially won’t scale. An easy example of this are the ‘free’ email accounts which come included with web hosting. Yes, these may be free – but they are also difficult to manage, unreliable and not secure. Any IT expert would point you towards something like Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google email solutions which can cost around £3 per user per month for an enterprise grade email system.
- Easy to manage
The biggest challenge when looking to Outsource your IT Support needs is finding the best company for your needs.
If you are considering when is the best time for you to Outsource – there isn’t a one-fits-all answer.
What I would say is that if you are a growing small business with between 20-50 staff and you have always employed IT staff, then it’s definitely worth considering some outside help. Not necessarily to replace your employed IT staff, but to assist them and help with the long term planning as they likely won’t have the knowledge required as the company grows out of the small business bubble.
Take a look at our guide for “What makes a good IT Support Company?“ where we dive into what to look for and how to spot the companies you should be avoiding.
Outsourcing your IT service provides a number of benefits which are worth considering
A short summary of these include:
- Save desk space for fee earning staff, most IT Support is now carried out remotely with on-site visits only when required.
- Holiday, Sickness, Training and HR costs are no longer your responsibility.
- Gain access to a higher combined level of knowledge from all staff at the Outsource IT Provider vs limited knowledge when employing.
We discuss these further in our Pros vs Cons for Outsourcing IT Support article.
Employing IT Staff
Employed IT staff still have their place in business, and it will depend on your unique situation as to whether you look to employ or outsource the IT roles.
The reasons for employing usually begin with:
- It’s cheaper than Outsourcing
- They’re in my business 100% of the time
Whilst these are valid reasons, they are both wrong.
It’s cheaper than Outsourcing
Taking a look at the bottom line figures for salary, PAYE and National Insurance, yes – it may indeed look cheaper than Outsourcing.
Then take into account recruitment costs, time off for sickness and holiday. They will need training to stay skilled, so there’s training courses and/or material – any time off which may be given for this also.
There is also the conundrum of whether to employ a junior and train them up, employ a senior role (and pay more), or try and find someone in the middle who can hopefully satisfy your requirements.
The issue here is that junior staff will likely be cheaper but make mistakes and leave as they progress in their career.
Senior staff will need to be paid significantly more, will usually specialise in only a few areas and thus lack the overall knowledge to maintain your systems. They are also more likely to get bored if your IT needs are relatively simple, as they just won’t be excited by working on the same thing day-in-day-out.
The unicorn here is finding someone who sits right in the middle. They have experience and qualifications but haven’t yet specialised in a particular field of IT. This is the unicorn employee, who is best to employ quickly before they are snapped up. Look after them, provide training and help them expand their knowledge, then take the time to back them up with a suitable IT provider to help the on-site team out when needed on projects, or even holiday/sickness cover.
They’re in my business 100% of the time
As above – what about holiday or sickness? If you have multiple staff in your IT team this isn’t a huge issue. However if you have a single person then what happens if something breaks whilst they’re absent?
Take a look at our article “Pros Vs Cons for employing IT Support“ for a more detailed look, and to help decide whether to employ or Outsource your IT needs.
The big 3 questions which are normally asked of any IT Support role:
- How much does it cost?
- How fast are they?
- How good are they?
For this conundrum, I would like to refer to the below graphic to help clear up a common misconception.
As you can see, you can only pick two of the three:
- Good, Fast support will not be cheap.
- Cheap, Good support will not be fast.
- Cheap, Fast support will not be good.
So you’re ready to change providers?
Considering changing your IT Support?
Whether it’s from employing IT staff to Outsourcing, or vice versa, there are a few questions you might need to ask to ensure a smooth transition.
Firstly, there is some key information which you need to request from your existing IT staff or provider.
We have created a checklist of these key parts in our blog post for “Key Information needed when changing IT Providers” so definitely have a read of this before you change, to ensure a smooth transition.
Secondly, you may be concerned about potential downtime when changing providers.
The good news is that there shouldn’t be any downtime for a support changeover. However, the new IT provider may need to install software as part of the hand-over (Anti-Virus or Monitoring software for example). This should be able to be scheduled out of hours so it has zero impact on your business.