Over the last decade, advancements in technology have dramatically changed the way we work. Today, we’re capable of juggling multiple projects and clients, and we’re sifting through more information than ever before. The importance of technology in today’s business can no longer be ignored…and neither can the growing complexity. So how can the average business owner, office manager, or administrator juggle all the pieces and parts that make up your IT environment?
Perhaps you’ve contemplated hiring an internal IT staff member. Adding an additional salary to the books, especially one that is not-billable, can be a difficult decision. Or perhaps there’s one person in the office that seems to know a lot about computers, so even if their job description has nothing to do with technology, everyone in the firm relies on them for help.
As a side note, I can’t tell you how many times a firm administrator has quietly expressed their frustration for being adopted as the IT point-person. Not only are they struggling to keep up with their own duties, but now they also need to find time also manage systems that they really don’t know much about. This is a risky operation. First, it undermines their professional competence. Second, When you combine two completely different jobs into a single position, you pretty much ensure that person will be sub-mediocre at both.
Or maybe you’ve partnered with an outside IT company that is available in case something happens. This is often referred to as break-fix support. That’s a little better, but it’s not good enough. I’ll tell you why…
Like cars, computers are complex machines that need regular maintenance. Let’s say you used a break-fix approach to maintaining your vehicles. In this scenario, you wouldn’t fill up on gas until you ran out. You wouldn’t get regular oil changes every 3,000 miles. You wouldn’t check the air pressure in your tires. The list goes on, but you can image the type of problems you’d start to have fairly quickly – and the expenses you’d rack up. So it pays to maintain your vehicle. Similarly, the cost of a computer or server failure is significantly higher than the cost of maintenance…not to mention the lost time and headaches.
So why should you consider outsourcing your IT operations?
1) Proactive maintenance
A Managed Services Provider (MSP) uses a proactive approach to managing your IT network. This is an important distinction in relation to the break-fix model previously discussed. A true MSP will deploy a dedicated monitoring system that can identify problems BEFORE they shut down your PC or network. They will also perform regular, scheduled maintenance on your PCs and Servers such as Windows updates, backups, patches, and more. They can also monitor your environment for intrusions, security risks, RAM availability, and disk capacity, to name a few. All of these efforts translate into a more stable and secure environment. (Note, not all IT companies are MSPs, so be sure to choose one that is.)
2) Improved system reliability & performance
Since IT companies often utilize higher-end tools and best practices, they are able to more quickly identify root causes to network issues and work to resolve those issues more quickly; thereby reducing the amount of downtime experienced and the duration of downtime occurrences.
3) Standardization of Your Network Environment
Standardization assures effective communication between stations, which is essential for efficient network operation. It also allows for efficient troubleshooting and support. If every piece of hardware and software at your business is different, you suffer a variability tax each time there is a problem with a computer on your network. If there are no standards, every problem takes longer to identify, investigate and solve no matter how familiar a technician is with your network setup. A good IT or Managed Services Provider will make recommendations ensure your network is standardized, which will save you time and money down the road.
4) Skill-Set Composition
When you work with a team of technicians, you’re getting a variety of skill sets, ensuring all aspects of your IT needs can be met. All firms, no matter if your 5 or 500 people, will perform better when you have a team of experts in different fields working together rather than just one person trying to do it all. Some team members focus on strategy and planning, while others are managing projects and new installations, meanwhile others are focused on day-to-day end-user support.
5) Redundant Resources & Expertise
MSPs employ a team of technicians and engineers who understand technical systems on a deeper level. By outsourcing your IT operations, you’re leveraging a staff that is dedicated solely to fixing your computers, servers, internet, software systems, etc. And, really, you’re not only leveraging their staff and redundant resources, you’re also leveraging their infrastructure, expertise, and best-practices. This can free up time for you to run your business.
6) Business Continuity
A true MSP will monitor your systems 24 a day, 365 days a year, and have resources available in case of an emergency. Conversely, if you hire an internal IT person, you lose this 24x7x365 availability. What if that person takes a vacation, or decides to the leave the firm without notice, or quits without handing over passwords, documentation, etc.? With an MSP, you have bench strength matched with 100% of your documentation, all at your fingertips.
7) Predictable Management Costs
Instead of unexpectedly shelling out large sums of money once you’re in a desperate situation (e.g. server crash), a set monthly budget is used to focused on issue avoidance, prevention, and service optimization. So instead of fighting fires, you and your staff can focus on parts of the business that drive revenue.
Overall, outsourcing your It operations can free time to focus on what matters most: your customers. Whether you have 5 people or 500, there are plans available to fit your business size, location or needs. Whomever you choose as your IT provider, make sure they have the tools, experience, and expertise to keep your network running at peak performance.