Managed IT Services vs. In-House IT: Which Is Right for Your Company?
Your computer network is vitally important to the success of your business. But, unfortunately, a network is not an item you purchase, set, and forget. Like any other mechanism, your network requires oversight and maintenance, or it’s going to degrade until it’s an impediment to your business, rather than a key asset. To keep your network humming, you need Information Technology Services from a qualified IT professional. But what is the best way for your small business to access those services? In this article, we’ll cover your options and the criteria to consider when deciding on an IT services plan.
What are the IT service options for my small business?
As with most professional services, you can choose to hire your own people, outsource the work to a service provider, or try a combination of the two. This gives you three choices:
- In-house IT — Person(s) on staff, onsite, and on payroll.
- Managed IT services — A third-party provider contracted to perform a range of services.
- Hybrid — Also known as co-managed IT, this arrangement uses in-house IT supported by managed services for certain tasks.
Which option is most appropriate depends on a range of factors, including:
- The size of your network — Do you have a large enough network to keep a full-time IT professional busy, so as to justify the cost? Is your network too big for just one in-house IT pro to handle?
- Your patterns of network usage — Are you only using your network during regular business hours, or does it operate 24/7 and therefore needs round-the-clock access to IT support?
- Nature of your network issues — Do you regularly encounter issues that require hands-on assistance, or can your issues be addressed remotely?
- Your business development plan — Do you see your network demands changing significantly in the next three to five years?
Keeping these considerations in mind, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each IT option.
Pros and cons of In-House IT versus Managed IT services
In-house IT gives some business owners peace of mind, because they like having someone onsite they can talk to in person when an issue arises. Other advantages from in-house include:
- Availability — During business hours, your IT pro is readily available.
- Greater control — Since you employ your IT pros, you can set priorities for the service.
- Familiarity — Your in-house staff becomes familiar with your technology, processes, and people, which allows for customized solutions.
On the downside, we find these factors:
- Cost — You are responsible for the IT pro’s salary and benefits.
- Limited hours — Outside of business hours, and during your IT pro’s vacation/sick leave, you are without support.
- Limited knowledge — If your network issue is outside the knowledge base of your in-house IT person, having to research a solution can delay solutions considerably.
Now, let’s take a look at managed IT services. We estimate that about 80 percent of network problems involve a remote remedy, so having someone onsite is not always as important as having someone immediately available. This is where managed IT shines, because your managed service does not get backed up into the weeds as easily as your in-house tech can. This means equal or greater efficiency for the overwhelming number of IT issues. Other advantages include:
- Cost — Many businesses pay less for a service than they would for a full-time employee.
- Off hours availability — Managed IT services typically provide 24/7 support.
- Broader knowledge base — Managed IT services have a deep bench of specialists, so there’s very little they haven’t seen.
- Proactive system monitoring — You benefit from strong preventative measures, as well as automatic updates of systems, programs, and security.
The disadvantages to Managed IT include:
- Limited onsite availability — Typically, a managed service tech will visit a business once a week or less, and if you need help onsite, you could face uncomfortable wait times.
- Binding contract — Potentially, you could wind up with a term of services provision that locks you in for a lengthy period, even if you are not completely happy with the services. We recommend a careful reading of the contract and a consultation with your business attorney before signing.
As for the hybrid, co-managed plan, that option probably doesn’t become practical until your computer network has grown to more than 100 work stations. Therefore, we recommend starting with in-house or managed services until you reach that point.
At KMF Technologies, we provide highly professional, managed IT services for small to medium-sized businesses. We customize IT solutions, so you get reliable services at a great value for your company.