Essential IT Services for an SME: In-house or Outsource?
As an SME, you need to decide whether to outsource certain services
or keep everything internally controlled. Many founders prefer to keep
everything under one roof. However, while this gives the illusion of
control, when the IT team is overstretched, nothing could be farther
from the truth.
Potential Benefits from Using a Third-Party IT Provider?
When it comes to the choice of going it alone or seeking support from an IT provider, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposal. Instead, it’s possible to request IT Support to avoid a business interruption or staff suffering from productivity losses due to minor computer issues. Doing so frees up any existing IT staff to deal with more complex concerns that take full advantage of their skills and knowledge.
Keeping existing IT staff happier because their day is more fulfilling is worthwhile in itself. Existing staff can benefit from some degree of outsourcing when they don’t feel it puts their role at imminent risk of disappearing.
Everything Under One Roof or Using Multiple Providers?
When being open to outsourcing, the question arises whether to seek out a single company for a variety of IT services or look for specialists.
Certainly, there are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, a specialist that focuses on networking is likely to be skilled if they have good reviews from past customers. However, don’t discount major IT providers with a large workforce from possessing deep knowledge across multiple areas. These types of companies will likely have separate teams to support the different services that they provide and therefore can deliver similar quality to clients.
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of an IT provider to see whether they have gaps in their abilities. Also, see if there are specialists that offer more. But don’t assume the specialist provides greater value because that’s not necessarily the case.
Security and Backup Provisioning
Busy IT personnel, and companies running without an IT department at all, will need to focus on both security and provisioning backups of the server and PCs.
Security is a growing concern for SMEs. They cannot afford to get caught out with an inferior security policy. This may allow hackers to access the company's network, creating havoc, and stealing company files. Also, given that every company is now expected to report breaches, it can have a damaging effect on the brand's reputation when a breach does come to light.
Software backups act to protect against several different scenarios that can turn a company’s world upside down. A hard drive failure on the main server is one such situation. A corrupted Microsoft 365 spreadsheet that’s taken hours to create may need to be reconstructed. Yet by using backup options, or a dedicated Microsoft 365 backup service, it’s possible to recover from a backup or rollback a file to a previous version to get most of the data back.
Business Communication Migration
Another service IT support can help with is migration from one platform to another. This happens periodically with business communications where companies feel they will get more benefits from adopting a different platform.
For example, the use of Microsoft Teams as an all-in-one communications tool for businesses has grown steadily over the last few months. Interestingly, despite the newsworthiness of Zoom, Teams has grown faster this year. Because of this, companies are feeling the need to migrate from Skype or Slack over to Teams and get everyone on board. Some IT providers offer migration assistance for these kinds of changes to smooth the way.
IT Hardware Acquisition & Software Support
Another area where companies can put an IT support company to good use is through recommendations for hardware acquisition and software purchasing.
Not all companies are up to date with PC or server development to know what brands and models would be ideal versus those to skip. Is HP better than Lenovo as a reliable PC manufacturer?
Also, on the software side, beyond the obvious choices like Microsoft 365, other apps are not as clear cut. Often, there are multiple possibilities from different software developers. Which will be best? This can be overwhelming for a company in an industry that's unconnected to information technology to figure out.
There is much to weigh up when considering outsourcing to a separate IT provider. However, it’s more pros than cons here, so SMEs should not be deterred from giving it proper consideration.
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