Small and mid-sized Australian businesses rely on technology to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive market. They need to deploy scalable solutions like cloud computing and virtualisation; all while making sure their systems are reliable, fast, and secure. But, unless your area of expertise lies in IT management, doing all this can be daunting.
There are many experts you can turn to when you need support, but there are budget constraints. Unlike large enterprises, you may not have the money to spend on a dedicated in-house IT department; which means you have two options: hire a one-man IT department or contract out to a managed services provider (MSP). To help you decide, here are the pros and cons to each approach.
One-man IT department
Hiring one person to manage your entire infrastructure makes sense when you have a small operation with fewer than 5 computers. They’re usually technically proficient in multiple disciplines like hardware and software installations, cloud migrations, and cybersecurity, which is ideal for those that require basic IT support.
Because they’re in-house, you can expect stellar response times from your technician; although this does tend to slow down as your business grows. What’s more, one-man IT departments are in tune with your pain points; which means they know exactly what technologies are required to help you be more productive and secure.
However, relying solely on one technician can actually lead to more problems than you initially anticipated. For starters, while you may think you’re saving money by hiring one person; you’ll still need to pay for a full-time employee. A qualified technician with at least five years of experience will cost you upwards of $75,000 a year plus benefits and a long orientation training process to get them up to speed.
Apart from this, you can’t expect one person to address every IT problem without being overwhelmed. Eventually, your technician won’t have enough time to resolve all issues in a day; so if one computer breaks down; it will be a while until it can be serviced. This leads to long periods of downtime, costing you thousands of dollars by the minute.
And if they need to take a day off, you’ll either need to hire a part-time technician or coordinate with your current one when he or she is on vacation, which is not ideal for anyone.
R&D also takes a backseat when your support staff is too busy fixing computers. As a result, they have no time to implement innovative solutions and strategies that improve processes. And when your company is not innovating; the competition can easily outclass you.
Finally, no matter how capable your technician may be; they’re probably lacking expertise in certain areas of IT. After all, IT trends are constantly changing, so you shouldn’t assume that your system administrator trained in cloud computing and network security to suddenly be an artificial intelligence expert. This is why you need a team; to compensate for one technician’s shortcomings.
Managed Services Providers
Instead of entrusting your IT to just one person; you can hire a IT managed services team to manage everything. The benefit of this approach is that you can bring in someone with a specific skill set to take on a particular task. For instance, a network specialist can come in and help if you’re experiencing slow internet connections. In fact, managed services providers provide expertise in a wide range of areas; including cloud computing, virtualisation, patch management, security, and compliance, just to name a few.
You also don’t need to purchase the equipment or apps necessary to resolve any issues. Technicians will come with their own tools or include the cost of procuring the equipment in their fee; which is still far less than buying and installing it yourself. The best part is, managed services providers have flexible plans to suite different organisational needs.
In addition to cost savings, companies with rigorous uptime requirements can benefit from an MSP partnership. Unlike one-man IT departments, managed services providers are fully staffed and offer 24/7 support; which means they can work during the holidays and even have the bandwidth to evaluate and improve your IT and business processes.
There are some downsides with working with managed services providers as well. Although they take all complicated IT tasks off your plate, don’t forget that you’re trusting a third party to secure and maintain your systems. So if your IT partner is woefully unqualified for the job, you could be exposed to many risks. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you perform exhaustive background checks and make sure their service-level agreements (SLAs) fit your business requirements.
Some MSPs also lock you into certain products like cloud platforms or accounting software that are incompatible with other apps. The program you’re stuck with may not be a problem at first; but when your needs change; it can hold back productivity and make switching to a new platform a long and costly process. To avoid this; check which vendors your managed service provider is currently partnered with and see whether their solutions can integrate with other products easily.
And the winner is…
Just by weighing the pros and cons of each service, you can already tell which one is the clear winner. One-man IT departments are effective for companies with less than 5 staff. However if your business has plans to grow and need the ability to scale your IT quickly; then managed services providers are the obvious choice.
At Empower IT; we offer professional and proactive IT support for a variety of industries, healthcare, non-for-profits, government, insurance, financial services, business services, manufacturing, agriculture and mining. So if you’re looking for a high-quality managed services provider, check out our services and case studies, and talk to us today.