To outsource your IT or to run it internally, that is the question. And as data becomes omnipresent and technology continues to develop, it’s one that more and more Chief Information Officers are asking themselves.
There’s undoubtedly a trend: with offerings strengthened by the cloud and other remote working technologies, managed service providers (MSPs) are far more popular today than they were a decade ago, when most medium to large organisations boasted in-house, internal IT services teams. Even outsourcing or contracting the CIO/CTO role for healthcare systems, businesses and government organisations is not unusual any more.
But the fact that a shift is taking place doesn’t necessarily mean that outsourcing IT is the right call for every organisation or situation. The outsourcing vs internal debate is one that should be argued on a case-by-case basis; understanding which is the right choice for your organisation is about weighing up the pros and cons and coming to a considered conclusion.
So let’s take a look at exactly that.
Why should I use a third-party IT provider?
There are a wealth of reasons why an organisation might choose to use a third-party provider. Some of the most compelling include:
1. It aligns with your strategic objectives.
Internal IT teams are most often used by organisations where IT plays such a critical part in delivering business objectives that it demands someone within your four walls. If that’s not the case for your organisation, you can more than likely benefit from utilising a third-party provider.
2. You want to reduce costs.
Compare the two: an IT manager with a six-figure salary, or a third-party provider that allows you to pay only for the expertise that you use.
If you don’t have enough continuous IT work to justify employing one or more full time internal IT professionals, or if you can streamline your IT systems and processes to the point where they aren’t justified, outsourcing your IT becomes the fiscally responsible move.
3. You need added expertise.
The construction and management of your IT system requires expertise across numerous areas, such as networking, security, server operating systems, cloud applications and VoIP. Creating an in-house team with the necessary experience can be an incredibly difficult and expensive process. And in the current New Zealand employment market where good staff can be hard to find, perhaps it is time to add that consideration to the equation.
A third-party provider, meanwhile, can retain experts across a wide range of technologies, offering access to them as and when you need it – for example when it’s time for a new system to be researched, procured and implemented.
4. You need out-of-hours support.
Getting an internal IT team to offer 24/7 support is an exercise reliant on high compensation, goodwill, or a heady mix of both. Many third-party providers, on the other hand, have sufficient staff to provide out of hours service, and often at a very reasonable rate.
5. You want to spread the load.
Say your IT team has two members. What if one gets sick? What if both get sick? As they’ll be working closely together, it’s not an unreasonable suggestion. Having a small internal IT team is to some degree about riding your luck and hoping your staff will be available when you need them. There are no such concerns with an outsourced IT provider, as it’s their job to be available come crunch time.
6. You want to direct your energies elsewhere.
Utilising an outsourced IT team grants you the ability to focus on other areas. No more worrying about IT support – you’ll instead be able to concentrate on strengthening, improving and growing your business.
Why should I use an internal IT team?
There are also a number of reasons why an organisation might choose to retain an internal IT team, including:
1. It aligns with your strategic objectives.
Your organisation’s short and long-term goals will offer the best indication as to whether an internal IT team is right for you, particularly when those objectives include some of the other indicators below. If your 12-month objectives indicate that having these types of skills in-house are going to help you achieve your objectives then you’d be wise to consider in-sourcing.
2. Your company has a large IT budget and cost is not a primary concern.
There’s no way around it: internal IT teams can be expensive, particularly if you need to retain a broad spectrum of skills. This fact matters more to some organisations (SMEs, non-tech focused organisations) than it does to others (large and/or tech-focused organisations). Whether you have room in your budget to meet those costs will be completely up to you.
3. Technology is a differentiator in your business.
If you utilise proprietary technology, whether in-house or in the form of products and services offered to clients, an internal IT team will more than likely be required to manage this unique and bespoke tech.
4. You’re looking for a competitive advantage.
Internal IT teams are committed solely to your organisation, and are there to do your bidding. If you need the team to focus all of its efforts on any one thing at any one time, to upskill in a particular area, or to develop tech or system built specifically for your situation, you’re granted control, which in turn grants your business a competitive advantage.
5. You need someone on hand.
Internal teams are deeply familiar with your IT systems, and are able to respond instantly to any issues that you might face. You can task them with the constant development of your IT system and proprietary technologies, ensuring you retain a place at the leading edge of innovation.
6. You are looking for ultimate control.
An in-house IT team grants you the ultimate control over your IT security. They can create bespoke security protocols, and can constantly monitor for potential threats (provided they have the necessary expertise.)
Let us Help you Decide
For many CIOs there won’t be an obvious answer to the internal vs outsourced IT team debate. As with any big business decision, it’s about weighing up the pros and cons, the risks and rewards, and identifying the option that will serve your business or organisation best.
And if that option is to outsource, the friendly, knowledgeable and experienced team at OneCall is ready to help.