Outsourcing your information technology support
Discover the skills and expertise third-party information technology (IT) providers can bring to your business.
At first glance, managing your own IT resources may appear to be your most sensible and cost-effective option. But outsourcing these responsibilities to a professional can actually mean long-term cost savings.
Here are some tips for finding an IT provider who has a track record of successfully working with businesses like yours – and who can grow with your business, too.
Be clear about your business and IT needs
You should know where your business is headed and what your pain points are in order for an IT company to correctly apply their expertise to help you. Work with your staff and your prospective IT expert to identify your technology needs. These may include:
Network security. It’s important to ensure that only authorized persons have access to your network. Also, consider choosing software programs that protect your network, servers, and online applications from intrusion in order to protect customer and company information.
Data backup. Complete security involves more than just hacker protection. Your data must also be backed up in the event your business or on-premise storage is inaccessible. If disaster strikes, your IT expert can quickly help recover your data and applications so you can get back to work.
Mobility. You must be able to work as well out of the office as you can in the office. An outsourced IT expert can help ensure all office files are securely and remotely accessible, and can advise on the right hardware and software for mobile computing productivity.
Prepare for your costs and your savings
For smaller businesses, an outsourced technology provider might be less expensive than hiring a full-time staff member. For example, several technology consultants interviewed indicated that a typical 10-person office can expect to spend approximately $1,500 per month on support and proactive services. This support includes a help desk and continuous technology monitoring to ensure your hard disk space, security, and network usage are sufficient and performing at optimal levels. On the other hand, hiring a full-time worker to manage these responsibilities can range anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, according to Glassdoor.
Many providers charge a monthly fee for a basic level of support and services. If you need technology upgrades or customer assistance, you can expect to pay the provider’s hourly fee that can range from $50 to $100 or more per hour. Also, keep in mind that provider rates can vary based on size of business, region, etc.
Find the right provider
Before hiring a third-party IT expert, do your research to ensure you’re working with the one that’s qualified and reliable. For example, look for a provider that has a certain level of technical competence. This could include certain product certification (like Microsoft or Apple), specialized networking and security skills, and experience with mobile productivity and online computing. Keep in mind that most quality providers will be certified by one or more technology vendors such as Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Dell, Symantec, AVG, Trend Micro, and others.
Finally, get recommendations from an IT provider’s clients and ask them smart questions such as:
Do you receive 24/7 support?
Do you have an assigned point of contact?
What backup and security do you receive?
Outsourcing your IT needs to a third-party provider puts those responsibilities in the hands of an expert and allows you to focus more time on what you do best – growing and managing your business. An IT investment like this can mean an investment in the long-term health of your business.