To Outsource, or not to Outsource

Written by Anna on February 8 2011

The decision whether to outsource your technical support or hire in–house technicians can be a tricky one. Both options offer pros and cons, and you want to be sure you’re making the right decision before you commit to the investment. So to help you out, here’s our quick guide to outsourced IT support v in-house technicians.....

In-House Technicians
Developing your own in-house IT helpdesk certainly has its benefits. With the right back-ground and continued training, your technicians can build up in depth and specialised knowledge of your particular IT systems and set up. Your team may also be located on site, which means that they will be on hand to solve problems quickly and efficiently.

Do bear in mind though that training costs money, and to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology your staff will need to undergo constant training and sit regular exams. Take into account also, that IT support staff can cost anything from £20,000 upwards, with experienced IT managers expecting to earn much more.

You will also need to make sure you have enough experienced technicians to be able to cover holidays and sickness, and may need to establish an on-call rota in case something goes wrong out of hours.

Don’t make the mistake on relying on just one or two people to run your in-house support setup. Even the most experienced IT engineer will have a lack of experience in some areas. To cover all bases, you may be best outsourcing to a professional IT support company.

Outsourced IT Support
As a general rule, outsourced IT support is more cost-effective than setting up an in-house helpdesk. An internal helpdesk would probably need at least two members of staff (depending on the size of your business) on salaries upwards of £20,000 each. IT support companies vary slightly in their pricing structures, but you should expect to pay an average of £350 per month to support up to ten users, including full server management, desktops and laptops with support offered both remotely and on-site. If you do the maths on that one, it starts to become a bit of a no brainer.

Outsourcing also gives you a larger bank of expertise with an entire team of technicians at your disposal. A good IT support company will employ staff with qualifications covering a range of areas, meaning that there is always somebody experienced enough to help, whatever your system requirements. IT support companies will also ensure their engineers are kept up to date on training and exams – taking a further expense away from you and your business.

Choosing to outsource can offer other business benefits too. It frees up time internally to enable you to focus on running and growing your business. If your sales manager currently struggles to sell in between helping staff with desktop issues and maintaining the server, you know it’s time to make some changes. The cost-effective answer is to commit to a small payment each month to outsourcing, and allowing your staff to get on with the job they were employed to do.

If you outsource, you will be provided with a contract outlining your Service Level Agreement (SLA). If your support company fails to meet these SLAs, they should face financial penalties. This is not the case with internal services, meaning that you have a much higher chance of your requirements being met by an external supplier.

In short, although it requires a certain level of trust, outsourcing is ultimately cheaper, and you should expect to have access to a wider range of talent. If you’re in any doubt about the technical ability of your chosen supplier, request a short term contract to begin with until they have proven their worth and built up a level of trust with you. Pay them a visit at their offices so you can get a real feel of what goes on and the company culture and ask for references and recommendations from companies of a similar size to yourself.