Growing businesses face certain universal milestones: seeking outside investment, professionalizing human resources, and, perhaps to the greatest chagrin of business owners, figuring out what the heck to do about information technology.
Does a business bite the bullet and hire an IT manager? Can it afford to hire a good one? How does it even find a qualified person with the shortage in the workforce?
Does a business hire somebody’s brother-in-law who “knows about computers” or that guy who built a website for a friend?
Does a business seek bids on a freelancer website?
If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably started a business. Figuring out what to do about your computing needs seems daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Rather than gambling with your company’s valuable data or hiring a technical staffer you may not need, consider managed IT services.
Managed services close the gap between setting up a single workstation and having an entire department on call. Many can set up a PC or laptop and configuring email or WiFi access. A much greater skill level, however, is required to network machines securely; set up virtual protected networks for secure, remote access; connect mobile devices securely to the network, both at the office and everywhere else; and troubleshoot when something goes wrong.
Business owners typically don’t think much about IT until something goes wrong — and something always goes wrong. Employees download viruses that compromise the system, or the company grows enough that it taxes the IT resources in place. Something will always happen.
We call this the “break-it-fix-it” model of IT management. Rather than plan for security, growth and future IT needs from the beginning, businesses wait for a fire and then call an IT professional to put it out. This is not only costly, as anyone who has had to hire a consultant to respond to an IT-related emergency can attest, but also very inefficient. Just like it makes more sense to keep a room clean rather than wait until it’s filthy, designing your network with future needs in mind will save many headaches years later.
When a business uses managed services, it hands off IT responsibility to firms like ours. When we do our job, our clients not only won’t have to worry about putting out IT-related fires; these emergencies are few and far between because the system will have been set up correctly and meticulously planned.
Outsourcing IT makes sense for many businesses, but there are several things to consider. Typically, businesses outsource tasks that are time-consuming and don’t relate to their core competencies. Potential outsourcing clients should consider what they want, with specific, agreed-upon metrics, and whether the partner is a good fit. Businesses often overlook the need to have a designated person to manage the relationship. To really make outsourcing shine, it’s not enough to hand over the work and forget about it.
Managed IT services have the potential to save money and free up personnel to grow the business. It makes sense for many small to medium-sized businesses. Does it make sense for yours?