Microsoft Office began scaling new heights in 2011 when it released its Office 365. It was the first time users could access tools like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint as part of a subscription offer.
If you own a small or medium-sized business, you know that the challenges you face in 2021 are arguably more daunting than at any other time in the life of your company. From reassuring your customers through unprecedented health and economic threats to deciding how to invest precious dollars, businesses are looking for any competitive advantage they can find.
For an increasing number of American businesses (including of course those in Louisiana), that competitive edge is managed IT services. Of course, whether partnering with skilled IT consultants is right for your business—and what specific needs such a team can meet for your company—is something only you can decide. What’s important is that you make an informed decision, armed with the facts.
For many businesses, outsourcing some or all their IT operations has been a cost-effective solution. The advantages of outsourcing are several. As The AME Group correctly points out, outsourcing IT can solve a host of problems, especially for new and growing companies:
“In today’s digital world, any business that wants to remain competitive must rely on strong IT support. If you’re planning your IT infrastructure, you may be tempted to think that maintaining an in-house IT department for all technical support and services is the way to go. However, the advantages of outsourcing can be considerable. This is especially true if you are running a start-up, or a mid-sized company seeking to grow.”
Among the several challenges faced by inhouse IT departments is the rapid pace of change fueled by emerging technologies and changes in customer expectations. For example, on average, 40% of consumers will abandon a website it if takes more than 3 seconds to load and move on to the competition.
The question for your business is whether you’re prepared for the inevitable changes your IT team faces now and in the future. Consider for example these IT and technology metrics from Capterra:
Before deciding to outsource IT services, it’s important to understand that outsourcing does have potential downsides. For example, IT consultants face a learning curve to get up to speed, something that’s not an issue for your inhouse IT team. In addition, before making this potentially game-changing decision, you need to think carefully about your top IT goals.
What, in other words, do you want your IT infrastructure to do, or do better than it does now? Whether you decide to outsource IT or work exclusively with your inhouse team, taking careful stock of current IT needs, assessing the ability of your inhouse team to meet those challenges and establishing clear, realistic goals is critical to meeting principal business goals.
Every business is different, of course, with different customers, different business goals and different marketing challenges. That said, most businesses—whether large or small, B2B or B2C—that carefully weigh the decision about how best to optimize IT operations realize a similar set of benefits, including the following xxx:
1. YOU’LL HAVE 24/7 IT SUPPORT
Problems with your IT operations don’t answer to a time clock. They can happen after hours, or when some of your IT people are on vacation. One of the key advantages of outsourced IT services is 24/7 availability. Said differently, even if your inhouse team has the ability to handle the disruptions that typically plague IT, there will be times they simply can’t answer the call. This is when a dedicated team of IT consultants can mean the difference between success and failure for your business.
2. YOU’LL HAVE TRAINED EXPERTS ON THE JOB
Most IT professionals are overworked, with little time for professional development and training. The best IT consulting firms will know not only how your system works and how to make it stronger, but also latest developments in the field. Because their reputation is on the line, they make sure they know solutions (including cost-saving solutions) your inhouse team might not have considered. When you work with trained IT consultants, you can rest assured that the IT solutions they create are right for your company, now and into the future.
3. YOU’LL SAVE MONEY
The cost to hire experienced IT consultants will vary depending on the nature of your business and the types of problems and boondoggles your system is experiencing. In general, however, the cost to work with consultants is substantially less than what you’re paying your inhouse team. Because consultants don’t draw a salary and benefits, they can solve your IT problems more cost-effectively than full-time employees. They can also show you innovative ways to cut down on IT costs, further reducing expenditures.
If you decide to outsource some, but not all, of your IT services, the members of your managed services team will help your inhouse team find cost-saving approaches to common problems. It’s important in these circumstances to explain that the managed services team is there to help, something skilled IT consultants understand and convey to ensure the continuation of smooth operations.
4. YOUR SYSTEM WILL BE MORE SECURE
Last year, almost 8 billion business data records were compromised by data breaches, a troubling 33% increase from the previous year. The bad news is that many inhouse IT teams have little to no specific training in IT security. The good news is that most IT consultants are fully trained in cybersecurity best practices. In 2020, the average cost of a data breach was approximately $4 million, a cost most small and medium-size businesses can’t easily absorb. Working with expert IT consultants, your IT systems will be far more secure, and far less vulnerable to cybercriminals.
5. YOU’LL BE ABLE TO GROW YOUR COMPANY WITH CONFIDENCE
While the goal of many inhouse IT employees is maintenance of your existing system, IT consultant are squarely focused on taking your business where you want it to go. Skilled IT consultants will partner with you to make your business more versatile and agile. They’ll study your business plan and ensure you have the IT infrastructure to accommodate your plans for future growth.
This can be a major advantage, helping you move your business to the next level with full confidence, and incorporating your growing needs—everything from effectively leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) software to the use of automation and AI in your marketing campaigns.
6. YOU’LL FREE UP YOUR INHOUSE IT TEAM
Many businesses are successful joining managed IT services with their inhouse team. Because the consultants with whom you partner are skilled at solving the several protracted problems which have dogged your employees for months or years, your inhouse team will be freed up to work on more mission critical issues. This tends to increase both productivity and employee engagement and satisfaction.
The fact is, it’s challenging for your inhouse team to meet the demands of a continually evolving and expanding set of IT issues. When you put them in touch with industry leaders, they’ll be better able to do the things you hired them to do.
7. YOU’LL HAVE A TRUSTED IT PARTNER
You and your C-suite executives can’t afford to get bogged down with every IT problem that crops up. Far too often, you can’t get the answers you need when you need them.
One of the less obvious advantages of working with a managed IT services team is the trust and confidence they bring to the table. Like your inhouse IT team, you and your managers will be able to focus more on the issues critical to the survival and growth of your business when you establish a trusting partnership with a team of expert IT consultants.
Arming your business with state-of-the-art IT systems and programming will do more than make your systems more responsive and growth-oriented. It will free every department in your business, from marketing to financial services, giving them greater autonomy and the ability to devise innovative solutions to protracted problems that have dogged your business. Of course, deciding which course of action is best for your company can be both complicated and confusing. That’s where we can help.
To learn more about the ways our holistic approach to managed IT services, cybersecurity consulting, network design, programming, help desk support and Virtual Chief Information Officer services can help your business run more effectively, more predictably, and more cost-effectively, contact us today.