Small businesses are becoming more reliant on IT to improve their productivity and enhance their efficiency. Although most of them view IT as a strategic function, they usually struggle to manage it. Limited budgets get in the way and sometimes, they don’t even have anyone with the necessary technical expertise on board. So how should small businesses approach IT management?In-house IT
The traditional choice is to hire in-house IT specialists. Since they work in the same office, you can call them anytime and they can immediately act in case of an emergency, thereby reducing costly downtime. Their comprehensive knowledge of the day-to-day business operations can also prove helpful in identifying the source of a problem.
On the flip side, finding IT staff that can fulfill all of your company’s IT needs is not an easy task. Some IT personnel might be skilled in some areas and weak in some, pushing some companies to hire more than one just to make sure all bases are covered. This can prove costly especially since their average annual salary is $47,900, according to Payscale. This doesn’t even include their benefits.
Once you’ve hired IT specialists, you also need to provide them with office space, give them equipment and software, and invest in their training to make sure they are updated with the new trends and processes.
Since small businesses can only hire a handful of IT staff, IT requests can pile up quickly, which can even be more problematic when staff are on holiday or sick leave. They may end up spending most of their time putting out fires and failing to make time for their other tasks such as research and documentation.
Hiring a managed IT services provider (MSP) is becoming a popular option due to its numerous benefits. Since IT providers employ a lot of technical specialists, they have a comprehensive skill set to address all IT problems. What’s more, there’s also less downtime, as most IT providers offer 24/7/365 support. They can even provide proactive solutions to prevent IT problems in the first place. This allows businesses to focus on their core goals and objectives.
Cost savings also make MSPs attractive to small businesses, as the latter only have to pay a flat monthly fee, which is more cost-effective than paying for the annual wages and benefits of an in-house IT staff. You can easily request for IT service level adjustments to match your organization’s needs as it scales up or down, and commission your MSP to do one-off projects when the need arises.
Outsourcing also allows small businesses to gain access to technology and technical expertise that larger companies enjoy, giving the former a competitive advantage to level the playing field.
Of course, business owners need to shop around to find the partner that will best suit their needs. It’s not advisable to simply choose the cheapest. Introducing a third party to the organization opens up the possibility of data theft, especially for businesses with confidential information or intellectual property. That’s why it’s so important to find the right IT vendor.
Compare the details laid out in their service level agreements (SLAs). How do they prioritize issues? What are their promised response times and their corresponding penalties if they are unmet? Also, make sure to look into their customer retention rate and recommendations to help you make an informed decision.
Whether you are looking to augment your existing IT team or completely outsource your IT operations, Frontline has you covered. We are one of the top IT support and services companies in the Los Angeles area and we specialize in servicing small businesses like yours. Read this free eBook to help you decide if managed IT services is for you.