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IT Support: Contract It Out, Or Keep It In-House?

James David - Friday, August 19, 2011

How to handle IT infrastructure and support is one of the core considerations of any small to medium business (SMB). So how do you handle it? Should you manage your own IT support internally, or contract it out?

The answer, as always, is going to be different for every business, and in the modern IT environment, it will almost certainly involve a mix of the two. There are some recent technology developments, however, that make taking advantage of some degree of managed services and outsourcing beneficial to a small to medium business.

Cloud computing, managed services, and mobile devices are bringing huge productivity and feature gains to SMBs. Previously, the technology that these services provide was only available to large businesses that could afford to run, manage and support the servers, networks and components in-house with a specialised IT team. Cloud computing and managed services bring these technologies to the little guys affordably, reliably, and with the flexibility and support an SMB demands.

These days the humble corner store can afford to have all the benefits of a Microsoft Exchange server; like email, contacts and calendars synced across multiple devices with powerful collaboration and sharing tools, and advanced networking, without building, managing and supporting either. Managed services and cloud computing help SMBs punch above their weight.

So what do you need to consider when assessing your tech support situation?

Be innovative and entrepreneurial! You know your business; the little details that no-one else knows. How can you use technology to create competitive advantages and efficiencies, or solve problems? Speak to an expert who is plugged-in and will help you understand emergent technologies, their benefits, potential pitfalls, implementation, and support.

Some basics:

  • How many people is your business employing, how much internal IT knowledge do you have, and of what quality is that knowledge? Google Apps, a simple maintenance agreement, and contracted IT support may be all you need.
  • What does your business do? Innovative technology use can create competitive advantage, solve problems and make doing what you do faster, more reliable, and more efficient in almost any business, but some industries will benefit more than others.
  • What is your existing IT situation? What needs to be supported, developed, upgraded, or made redundant?
  • What technologies do you plan to use? How are you going to find out about your options, make a technology plan, implement it, and support it?

Finding the right IT support mix for your business is always a challenge, and is something that must be assessed continually, especially in the fast-paced modern IT environment.

How are you handling your IT support, and what have you learned from doing it?

 

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