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Outsourced I.T.

Updated: Apr 28




To outsource, or not to outsource, is that your question?

As organizations grow, they can take many different paths of I.T. support. Starting small, they often rely on in-house knowledge, whether it's the owner or possibly an employee that has tech experience. This may be boosted with periodic assistance from external sources, from friends, to peers, to contracted IT support companies.


As a company grows, they are faced with a decision to make. Rely even more on someone who has grown into the role? Hire a specialist? Outsource completely? For a number of companies, outsourcing is a natural evolution.


But once they get much bigger, at what point should you bring your I.T. back in-house? Do organizations use a hybrid model?


In this article, we'll explore the ins-and-outs of these questions to provide you with more information to aid your decision making process.



Advantages of Internal IT

Control and Accessibility

You have direct access to your support team member(s), and tighter control over what they do.


Customized Solutions

You are able to tailor your IT solutions specifically to your organization's unique needs.


Team Integration

Your IT staff can be more tightly integrated into the company culture and processes. Being "in the building" all the time allows your in-house IT to address needs on a more informed basis.


Immediate Response

Potentially faster response times (dependent on a number of factors)


Advantages of Outsourced IT

Cost Efficiency

Reduction in costs associated with hiring and training IT staff, as well as savings on space and hardware


Scalability

Easier to scale IT operations up or down based on business needs without the overhead of full-time employees.


Expertise and Specialization

Access to a broader range of skills and technologies that might be too expensive or impractical to develop in-house.


Focus on Core Business

Allows management and staff to focus more on core business activities rather than IT management


Outsourced IT Delivery Models

Break/Fix Services

This is where service is provided on an "as-needed" basis. Here at Northrock we call it Casual Support. It allows you to dictate your budget, take advantage of internal resources and generally be more flexible.


Project-Based Outsourcing

If you have internal coverage for day-to-day, but have occasional one-off projects or migrations, you can engage IT companies for specific, pre-scoped work.


Managed IT Services

A fixed fee for ongoing management and monitoring of IT systems. This is a more proactive approach. While Managed Services often have a higher price tag, the return on investment can be significant.


Co-Managed IT Services

Another approach is a hybrid solution where you have internal resources covering a subset of your IT needs while outsourcing other aspects. While this can be a "best-of-both-worlds" solution, it requires very well-defined agreements.


"Is Outsourced IT Right for Us?"

Below are some indicators that it might be worth evaluating an outsource provider.


Growth

If you are growing, or plan to grow soon, outsourced IT can bring you the benefit of scalability. Keep your costs predictable and in line with your trajectory.

Risk Management

If you are concerned that your organization is at risk for compromise, loss of data, or other business interruptions, it is definitely worth engaging with external IT as vendors are more up to date on current threats, mitigations and best-practices.


Time Pressures and Operational Efficiency

If your team is squeezing a lot of work out of their shifts and are looking for ways to optimize processes and increase productivity, the consultancy that a modern IT provider offers can help you achieve those goals.



Working with an Outsourced IT Provider

While outsourcing your I.T. provides a number of advantages, you cannot just set it and forget it. To get the most out of your relationship, it is best to treat your provider as a trusted partner or advisor.


Trust

You need to be able to trust each other. Make sure you select a provider that you feel will reciprocate a strong, trusting relationship. Changing providers is expensive, but if trust is loss it is a necessary step.


Work closely, demonstrate your trust in them and ask the same in return.


Communication

Ensure there are clear expectations and barrier-free lines of communication with key stakeholders.


Regular Reviews

Scheduled, regular meetings are an important part of the process. Make sure your provider is committed to them and you make the time as well. These reviews should include performance evaluation, alignment, security reporting and future planning.


Moving on from Outsourced Support

While there's no hard and fast rule, because every situation is different, we typically see organizations switch back to in-house support when they grow to a size where they can staff a team of in-house professionals. This is typically over 100-200 supported users, though can vary wildly.


Some factors that would impact timing of moving in-house include:

  • A need for highly customized IT solutions

  • The strategic importance of IT - the higher the impact on strategy, the sooner you would move in-house

  • Complexity of operations - the more complex and unique your IT needs are, the sooner you may need to rely on support that is heavily involved in day-to-day needs.


Of course, this does not need to be an either-or shift. Your organization could hire in-house staff to handle specific needs while still relying on an outsourced vendor for more generic support. Or, flipped you can have an in-house team that supports everyday needs while relying on higher-value consulting of an external vendor.


Conclusion

Outsourced IT support can be a tremendous benefit for organizations looking to grow and improve their outcomes through the enhanced use of technology.


However, outsourced IT is not good for every scenario, and does take some effort.


If you would like to know more about how Northrock's approach to Outsourced IT can help you, please reach out, we are happy to have a quick conversation!

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