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IT support: should start-up and small businesses outsource?

Many start-up and small businesses decide to manage IT on their own in an attempt to keep costs to a minimum. Often this will take the shape of either one or a couple of individuals who possess some amount of IT knowledge. A percentage of their time must be given to IT support issues. However this approach often proves to be far more costly for the ‘lean’ business than outsourced IT support alternatives would be.

Overview

As businesses grow, so does the complexity of data networks, hardware requirements and demand for expertise and technical IT support. In a self-sufficient scenario where the business muddles through, IT becomes increasingly problematic. It impacts staff ability to do their jobs, hinders operational delivery and excessively removes the designated IT persons from their primary roles, creating unnecessary disorganisation and stress.

By the time you reach breaking point where the company can no longer continue without some form of dedicated support, it will already have taken a toll on your businesses productivity and profitability. It means the difference between keeping operations running smoothly and meeting deadlines, keeping IT capital costs in hand and providing a user experience that will retain talented staff.

A fit for purpose and scalable support mechanism should be implemented as early as possible. Outsourced IT support is better suited to small business for a number of reasons:

Guaranteed Cover and Fix

A consultancy has the ability to provide the support of multiple engineers, meaning you are not in the vulnerable position of depending on just one staff member. Service companies provide guaranteed response times within their service levels, including 24 hour support.

Technical Knowledge and Competency

Consultancy engineers gain more exposure, hands on experience, peer knowledge sharing and training by disciplines. The result is less time spent trouble-shooting and the selection of up to date and cost effective IT solutions which best serve your business, rather than ones which are limited by knowledge or unnecessarily entrench an internal requirement.

Lower Cost

Outsourced support costs less than staff salaries. You don’t have all the associated costs of hiring staff such as recruitment, holidays, pensions etc. With outsourced support, you are only paying for the engineer time you use. And you benefit from experienced decision making for necessary hardware and solutions, saving CAPEX, support and replacement costs due to poor selection choices.

Better Cost Planning and Scalability

With internal IT management and on premise solutions (as opposed to hosted cloud services), it’s hard to allocate and plan costs accurately. Outsourced service plans allow you to move as far over as you’d like from a CAPEX model to an OPEX one. From technical support, software, infrastructure and data hosting, everything can be provided as a service at a fixed price per user on a monthly basis. And this makes your business easily scalable.

Focus Remains on Core Business

Of key importance, when your IT is outsourced to a service provider who can provide all the benefits outlined above, staff attention returns to where it belongs. On your core business operations, unimpeded by unsuitable ICT systems.

In addition to outsourcing IT technical support, cloud services have recently revolutionised ICT delivery for businesses. They allow you to host and share data, applications, telecoms and desktop delivery, providing a number of benefits. Centrally hosted systems are easier to manage, can be delivered to any location with internet, lower the need for technical support, offer better resiliency, data security, disaster recovery and cut down on your hardware requirements. With servers and PBX systems no longer on premise, you don’t have to bear the purchase, maintenance, electricity or replacements costs.

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