If you've got employees, you've got IT to deal with. And if whether you've got a couple of people or hundreds working for you, there's plenty to consider when it comes to managing that IT - from infrastructure to software.
You might be thinking about hiring an IT department, or considering outsourcing your IT Support to an external provider. The question is, what's the best solution for your business, and do you need to choose a company that's based in the same town or city as you?
The answer will depend on your priorities, so let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of the different options so you can see which ones are most important for your business...
In-house IT Support
In this scenario, you'd be hiring one or more people to create an IT department in your business/office.
- You always have resource on hand and available
- Your employee will know the systems you use, the priorities you have, and the needs of your users intimately
- All of your infrastructure will have someone on-site and available if there's an issue
- Cost - generally the cost of hiring an individual or team is considerably more than the cost of outsourcing (unless you have a huge number of staff to manage), especially if you need to pay on-call rates and have multiple people in for holiday and sickness cover
- Skillset - if you're only hiring one or two people for your IT, you may struggle to get the range of skills you could get for the same (or a lot less) money than through outsourcing. When you hire an external provider, you have access to all of the skills in that business, usually more than you can hire for yourself
- Dead time - if you have a small number of employees, you might not have enough work for your IT person to be busy all the time. Peaks and troughs in demand can make for a challenging business case for hiring.
Local IT Provider
In this scenario, you outsource your IT requirements to an IT Support provider that is local to you.
- If you have an issue that needs someone to attend site to resolve it, you won't have to wait as long for an engineer to attend, because they're local and can get to you quickly
- If you have an ongoing issue that needs to be monitored firsthand to identify and resolve, you'll have someone local who can be in your office and see what's happening
- If there are local situations that affect your business and IT, a local company will be more likely to be aware of these issues
- If you're in a small town or village, you may have very little choice - often smaller locations have few options when it comes to outsourced providers. Being able to choose between providers is an important way to get exactly what you need, and if you don't get on with one provider, you don't want to be locked in simply because there are no other companies to select from.
- Similarly, if you don't have enough choice, you may struggle to find a company that has the level experience you need for the systems you use, and pricing may be higher than areas with more competition.
- Distractions - if you bring someone into the office to resolve a major issue, you may find various people grabbing them to solve a quick issue on their laptop or computer. In isolation, that's not a problem, but it can escalate and use up plenty of time.
Non-local IT Provider
In this scenario, you outsource your IT support to a company that provides support services but isn't based in your town or city.
- You get a lot more choice - you can select based on services provided, technologies used, price, or any other parameter, without being limited by location (especially important if there's not much choice where you are)
- You can access support through phone, email, and video call, with technicians who can remotely access your systems in order to be able to do what you need - this cuts down distractions and can speed up response times.
- If you need someone on-site, you may have to wait longer for them to attend
- You may only have the opportunity for on-site visits for emergency or business-critical situations, or a set number of visits per year (you should agree these parameters when discussing contract terms with your chosen provider)
Overseas IT Provider
In this scenario, you outsource your IT support to a company in another country.
- Price - often this is the cheapest approach
- Time - this can be an advantage or disadvantage, but sometimes having support from a different time zone is a benefit if your business runs outside of standard business hours in the UK.
- Security - different countries have different regulations and practices around cyber security, data management, audits, and employee monitoring. You can't be sure how secure your arrangement is. This is particularly important if you manage data or have stringent security requirements
- Language - depending on the country you choose to outsource to, there can sometimes be a language barrier, leading to frustration on both sides
- No on-site support at all, so networks and infrastructure that can't be managed remotely will be outside the scope of your agreement