If you’re running a small business, you know exactly how frustrating it is to make a decision around IT support.
There used to be two main options, either to work with an in-house team or to completely outsource your IT department. Both these options have advantages and disadvantages, but you may find that neither are completely suitable for your business. A third option—managed services—has also recently entered the scene, which can further complicate your decision.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve looked at these three options in more detail and analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of each. We’ve also tried to provide an estimate of the costs. These figures are rough estimates and may not be reflective of all industries in the Denver small business IT space.
Outsourced IT Support
Outsourced IT shifts your responsibility to manage and hire IT staff to a third-party company. It has enormous implications for small businesses who may otherwise struggle to fund the up-front costs of establishing an in-house department.
In general, outsourced IT contracts require an hourly rate to work with a dedicated IT technician. When you first look at the numbers, the prices may seem ridiculous, and you may decide it’s cheaper to hire an IT person in-house. Outsourced IT offers several unique advantages, though, that will outweigh the costs involved.
A reputable outsourcing company who takes their responsibility seriously will always do a thorough assessment of your needs and existing infrastructure. For example, they will assess your system in detail before they issue a set of recommendations and services personalized to your business. This customized service will help you avoid any unexpected costs and successfully manage your monthly budget.
The main appeal of outsourcing your IT services is that you have the assistance of an expert. The technician working with you has other clients, too. Our professional IT consultants have worked with many different systems, and seen a vast array of baffling problems they wouldn’t have been exposed to had they worked only for you. This experience translates into efficient and effective service at your fingertips whenever you need it.
IT companies generally assign one technician to your specific account (or two at most). There is a relationship with your tech support, which will help them understand your needs and requirements better—making them more effective at managing your problems than a stranger. You can call them any time and know that you have a human being on the other end of the line who is dedicated to your business.
The main drawback of outsourced IT is the cost. While the cost may vary depending on your existing infrastructure and specific needs, you can expect to pay around $1500 to $2500 per month for outsourced IT. If you are careful only to use the service “as-needed” and purchase blocks of time well in advance, you can easily keep the costs to a reasonable level.
It can be difficult to budget for emergencies, however, which may cost far more if you’re relying exclusively on outsourced IT support.
In-House IT Support
Another common solution is hiring an elite IT support team for your business. The main advantage of this option is that you’ll have more control over the person you work with than you would over an outsourced IT tech. You will be working with someone intimately familiar with your IT system, and who will be able to come up with solutions that perfectly meet your needs.
The main disadvantage of in-house IT support is elevated costs. The median income for an IT technician is around $46,000, and this can top out at closer to $65,000 per annum, without benefits. If you include the benefits and payroll tax, it loads an extra $13,000 per annum.
If you don’t have an IT management system, you’ll also need to purchase one. Costs on these systems can vary quite a bit depending on what you choose, but for a standard mid-range solution you can expect to pay around $3000 per user for training, excluding the license required per user.
Once you’ve paid for setting up the IT system, however, you have a steady cost for which you can budget on a monthly basis. You also escape any dramatic increase in cost during IT emergencies or pockets of overtime pay that weren’t on the budget. The system provides you with access to IT service eight hours a day, five days per week, and a good in-house IT technician will probably dedicate even more hours to your business.
On a per-hour basis, the in-house IT technicians are a much more affordable option than outsourced employees. This convenient option also allows you to train and develop the technician in a way that’s suitable for your business.
Managed Services IT Support
Managed services have been compared to employing IT experts in to handle certain applications in your company. This alternative frees up your in-house IT team to handle more strategic IT programs, allowing them to focus on the core competencies within the business.
Managed services (MS) require that the business pay a flat fee to have certain services managed by an external company. These services may include server maintenance, email archiving, data backup, desktop monitoring, and email monitoring, for example.
Many MS providers will allow you to choose which services you want to pay for, offering the option to add extras whenever you need them. This flexibility allows you to determine what you need from a managed service and budget for it accordingly. You’ll never pay for a service that you don’t use, and you’ll quickly see how much you save when your current staff can focus on other areas of the business.
Most managed services are automated thanks to the abilities of remote monitoring. This position means that a managed services program will run 24/7 and be able to detect any impending issues the moment they arise. It gives your IT team plenty of time to deal with the problems.
Around-the-clock service also means that maintenance can happen when your business is closed, without you having to pay your IT staff any overtime.
As the demands of modern businesses increase, the services that MS providers offer have evolved. These services are ideal for businesses that rely heavily on their IT infrastructure, but which don’t have the dedicated staff to provide the necessary maintenance, updates, and repairs.
Unfortunately, managed services aren’t a replacement for an in-house or outsourced IT team. They do offer a way to outsource mundane tasks that would otherwise take up the time of valuable staff.
The cost of using any Colorado computer consulting firm to manage some of your services depends heavily on your current infrastructure and needs. Older computers and servers are more expensive to maintain, and various MS providers offer packages that are cheaper than the individual services listed in the package.
You may get away with paying as little as $15/month per computer, but these expenses will rise as you add to the portfolio of services being managed on your behalf. In general, a small business in Colorado can expect to pay between $500 and $2000 per month for a full range of services.
The cost factor is a minor consideration when you consider the benefits of professional IT support. It’s an excellent way to supplement your in-house IT team, without the need to find and train another IT staff member or call in expensive professional help in an emergency.
Small businesses rely on their IT systems for a thriving business, so you need to be sure you employ enough resources to keep it running smoothly. There are three primary options available: hiring dedicated IT staff, using outsourced IT staff, and employing managed services to handle most of the day-to-day tasks for you.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and the one you choose will depend on the needs of your business. You don’t need to consider only one option as your final solution, so why limit yourself?
You can employ an in-house technician who is assisted by outsourced help or by a dedicated IT MS. Alternatively, you can rely on managed services with occasional outsourced help when you need it.
When deciding which route is best for your business, it’s obvious that the cost will be a factor.
Don’t be discouraged by the options that appear expensive, however. There will be times when the cost is justified, bringing more value to the business than you would have been able to access without this service.
When in doubt, speak to a reputable Colorado consultant from Denver IT services.
We have some of the most extensive experience with small business IT in the state. Our expert advice will provide you with more than enough information to make the right decision for your business.