The advancements in business technology and the IT industry as a whole have increased the demand for outsourced IT support teams and managed services.
If you are growing your business, your core competencies should be your primary concern. This can sometimes be hard to do with in-house IT teams since they demand constant management of their everyday tasks and training. Both are costly and time-consuming; however, they aren’t the only issues you will encounter when maintaining a full-time IT staff.
In this comprehensive guide on information technology outsourcing, we will be looking at the advantages of outsourcing and also comparing the pros and cons of outsourced business operations.
Outsourcing vs. In-house
When you want to grow your team and add new members to your business operations, things can become a bit complicated. Your hiring manager will probably have a hard time finding candidates with the right level of expertise, and when they do, usually it comes with increased operational costs.
Compromising quality may become an issue if you can’t find the right people to fill the roles. You want your IT project manager to be well-educated and tech-savvy with great management skills. Unfortunately, staff members like that are as rare as unicorns due to a limited talent pool. Having one person in such an important position also comes with a risk in the long run. One sick day can have a significant impact on your overall performance, while outsourced teams can’t put you in such a position.
New members require training and equipment, along with additional office space. There’s also an onboarding process and learning curve to consider. Current technology is continuously moving forward, so additional hardware and software updates are frequently needed. All of this requires additional management of internal resources and further investments in tech and training.
Partnering with a remote team from a business process outsourcing company increases productivity by removing most of the negative aspects of maintaining an in-house team mentioned above. Outsourcing allows better communication within the company, 24/7 support for employees, and a streamlined ticketing system that aims to provide maximum customer satisfaction. The outsourcing partner covers operational costs on their end, and you only pay for the services provided, thus ensuring efficient fund management and cost savings.
Who Should Outsource?
The benefits of outsourcing vary depending on your business model and planning. Companies that are looking to scale in the future are more likely to succeed if they use the services of an outsourcing company.
Response times of an in-house team vary depending on their other responsibilities. This always leads to longer downtimes and communication issues that can slow down the complete business process within the company.
Your core activities can be completely slowed down if your backroom staff doesn’t meet the required level of expertise. The location of your office usually determines what kind of talent you can attract – a problem that is easily solved with outsourced IT support teams.
When you partner with a managed services company, constant access to a talent pool that can be adjusted to fit your exact needs helps with better fund management and resource allocation. However, scaling isn’t the only reason you would want to partner with an outsourced team. If your employees or customers need constant attention and assistance, utilizing a full-service help desk leads to enhanced customer experience.
The bottom line – if your customers and staff require timely professional assistance, you should consider looking into outsourced solutions since your local staff may struggle with providing such high-quality aid most of the time.
Offshore Outsourcing vs. Local Outsourcing
The term outsourcing may be universal for both business models, but there is a significant difference between offshore support teams and local solutions.
Offshore outsourcing does have one advantage, and that is access to global talent. The global outsourcing market is where many companies go to find a mobile app developer, virtual assistant, web developer, social media content creator, and full software development teams. Some organizations even outsource their marketing manager, market research, and lead generation. And for some, they turn to the global talent pool to hire freelancers that provide IT services.
However, there are far too many drawbacks when it comes to offshore outsourcing, particularly when it comes to information technology. The problem with global outsourcing to offshore teams is that they usually have a language barrier and significant cultural differences. This means that communication issues are likely to happen, which in turn leads to decreased productivity and longer downtime. On-site assistance is impossible due to their physical location.
Local outsourcing is slightly different. The fact that both your and your service provider are located in the same state/country, there is a high chance their staff members will fully understand the needs and goals of your company. If you hire a local help desk, your employees can provide professional and timely support whenever needed. In case of technical difficulties, on-site support is available and easy to provide. Lower downtimes allow uninterrupted business continuity for your company.
Cost Reduction and Efficiency
The exact cost of outsourcing depends on the type of services you are trying to get. Usually, managed services offer the following:
- Remote Management & Monitoring which should include 24/7/365 device monitoring, ticketing system, antivirus, reporting & more
- Full Service IT Help Desk that provides all of the above plus server & email maintenance, application support & incident management.
- On-Site Engineering Services combine everything above plus preemptive maintenance, desktop & infrastructure support & resolutions, technology roadmap guidance, optimized uptime, and more with on-site physical support.
Depending on your current staff size and market growth, you can add or remove staff members on your remote team, depending on the outsourcing tasks you require. This type of financial freedom simplifies management and lets you calculate the exact costs of your operations. In the long run, you will be allocating more funds toward business plans rather than additional equipment and office space.
As we already mentioned, a streamlined ticketing process enables quick and easy problem resolution with both your customers and employees. This type of data can become extremely useful for future incidents since it can indicate what issues keep coming back and how you can solve them permanently.
How to find the right managed services provider (MSP)
Your outsourced partner should have your best interests in mind, so if they aren’t looking to solve your problems even before they occur, you might want to look elsewhere.
As with everything, asking questions is always a good start. However, if you don’t ask the right ones, you might end up signing a contract with the wrong company. The quick expansion of the IT industry opened up more room for MSP companies, but not all of them are as good as they may want you to think. Their level of expertise and reputation are only a few aspects you should be looking into. Here are some questions you should ask:
- Are they operating locally or offshore?
Having a support team in your area can make a big difference when you need immediate assistance on-site.
- Do they have SLAs in place for resolution time?
Once you encounter a problem, you want it to be resolved as soon as possible. Waiting on hold can become a constant issue if your service provider doesn’t guarantee timely responses and support.
- Is their team skilled enough?
They should know and understand your business from the bottom up. If they don’t understand your goals and vision, they can’t provide adequate support to the people who depend on your business.
- Do they have a track record?
Reputable companies tend to stay in business longer, so your MSP should have a good history and a clean track record.
- Do they provide around-the-clock coverage?
Some managed solutions won’t offer 24/7/365, and those shouldn’t be on your shortlist. Constant monitoring leads to shorter response times and problem prevention. Overnight issues can’t be resolved if your service provider doesn’t work during night hours.
- Are they proactive or reactive?
Pro-active service providers solve issues before they even become a problem. They look for vulnerabilities and monitor your environment to spot possible threats and protect you from them. Reactive teams don’t act in such a preventive manner.
- Are you satisfied with their level of communication?
Communication skills are crucial. Again, proactive service providers will serve as better partners since they will communicate with your team members and try to adapt to your working environment rather than doing it the other way around. You should continuously be aware of how technology impacts your business, and your outsourced partner should be making sure you have easy access to such information.
- Are they paying enough attention to security?
Often, your employees will be the weakest link in your company. A good MSP should always educate your employees on possible security threats and offer training when necessary. Every company you speak with should have a comprehensive plan on how they want to address this issue.
- Is your data secure?
Your data backups are as good as your ability to restore them. If your MSP isn’t handing it in the right way, compromising quality to save costs, or isn’t testing it on a regular basis, you should consider talking to them about this issue. Sensitive data must be handled professionally, so you should always request professionalism from your MSP.
Possible Issues and Red Flags
Outsourcing trends are on the rise. But while all service providers may look the same on the surface, the level of their service can be drastically different. You can always expect to run into some dishonest providers, so keeping your eyes open for red flags is highly advised. Here are some things to look out for when comparing providers in the outsourcing market:
Contract length and terms. Before signing any documents, get familiar with the terms and requirements of the contract. Reputable service providers like Managed Solution offer a 60-day, no-fee opt-out clause that guarantees high-quality service. If you are unsatisfied with the services provided, you should be able to terminate the contract or ask for a refund. Any other offer should be considered unacceptable.
Additional costs and fees. The number of users you have should be the main factor in your monthly pricing. Adding new users should increase the price while removing users should bring the costs down. If your MSP is offering something different, then be sure that you understand their pricing system entirely. If you get tied in a contract you can’t terminate, there will be no way to avoid additional spending and high fees.
Search the web for reviews and impressions. Customer testimonials have become a benchmark of quality. If you can’t find any positive reviews or you run into some negative ones, maybe that service provider isn’t worth your time and money. Previous customers should have enough information on your potential service provider, so consider looking into their opinions as well.
Average wait times and overall efficiency. If one issue took 10 minutes to resolve, but another one lasted an hour, the average response time would be 35 minutes. The average wait time is probably the most important metric of all. Even if an MSP meets all of the requirements we mentioned so far, a bad response time can indicate all sorts of possible complications in the future. Average response times should be transparent, and they are calculated based on team performance.
Understand that not every information technology-related problem is easily resolved. Depending on the complexity of the issue, it may need to be escalated to higher ranks, and the nature of the issue will determine how long the resolution will take. However, a quick response doesn’t always guarantee a solution. You will want skilled IT technicians with low response times if you are looking to find an outsourced solution with a perfect balance.
The best service providers serve an extra layer of protection for you and your company. Although it may seem that an MSP only provides support for your business, it also has to act as your personal firewall. 24/7 monitoring and scheduled reporting give you clear insight into your business management and growth.
In most cases, your outsourced partner will handle a lot of your sensitive data, so you want to make sure that they are competent enough to handle it in the right way. One security breach can have devastating consequences for your business, so picking a secure service provider is mandatory for most companies. Security threats within your network should be detected before they become an issue, so always be on the lookout for companies with a highly skilled talent pool.
When Should You Consider Outsourcing?
Constant advancements in information technology gave customers the right to expect a stress-free user experience with your services and products. If you find it hard to keep up with your customer inquiries and requests, maybe it is time you reorganized your in-house resources. Outsourcing provides more time to focus on core competencies and less time spent on problem resolution.
Small and medium-sized businesses may find it hard to scale after a certain period of time. Usually, the most important growth factor is technological readiness, and if you reached a plateau stage in your business development, maybe it’s because of the tech. Outdated internal systems make it hard to keep a steady pace, and turning to technology outsourcing and adding a few experts on your team can make a big difference.
Steady business continuity relies on productivity, but your technological infrastructure may be bottlenecking your team’s productivity. Sometimes, outdated software and hardware solutions will do more harm than good, resulting in broken deadlines and depleting productivity. When this becomes the case, outsourced solutions can help you understand the problem but also how to solve it.
It is often the case that companies rely on old applications that aren’t supported by their developers. These can cause a long-term security issue that needs to be addressed professionally and securely. Security risks lead to data breaches that can bring down your whole operation in a matter of minutes.
Isolated siloed systems should be your last indicator that you need outsourcing services. Technological advancements are hard tof keep up with, and a large number of companies are still relying on legacy computer systems. Upgrading the whole infrastructure can take forever and is also considered counterproductive. Rather than completely overhauling your current tech, you can consider letting an MSP do that for you.
Full Benefits of Outsourced Solutions
Let’s recap and recognize how much of an impact an outsourced team can have on your business.
- Lower in-house operational costs and better resource management
- Data protection and full disaster recovery plans in case of a data breach
- Shorter response times and efficient problem solving
- Skilled staff members with a high level of expertise without a costly onboarding process
- More time for your executive members to focus on the core issues within the company
- Reliable support for both your customers and employees
- No downtime due to a large talent pool that is entirely customizable and manageable based on your needs
- Fast and easy on-site problem solving with local outsourcing solutions
- 24/7/365 system monitoring and clear pricing systems
Your scalability will always depend on your ability to accept and adapt to new technologies. In-house staffing requires a lot of work and resources, something a modern business environment can’t afford right now. Additional spending on training and equipment leaves fewer funds for business growth and scaling. With outsourcing providers like Managed Solution, you can always count on discounted equipment prices and maximum security. CSP licensing is also an option since Managed Solution is a Certified Gold Partner of Microsoft. At the end of the day, outsourcing can be defined as an all-in-one solution for businesses that are struggling to capitalize on new opportunities and face scaling issues.