Adopting new technologies to improve the customer experience and increase productivity offers small businesses a chance to expand operations. It also comes with its own set of challenges. No business can successfully operate without some automated processes, but keeping your technology up and running securely takes considerable expertise. You face the challenge of maintaining computer network support along with generalized small business IT support services, all on a shoestring budget. Before deciding on a specific plan, you need to decide on the most cost effective way to get total support.
Staffing an In-House IT Department vs. Contracting a Service Provider
As a business owner, you have two basic options when obtaining small business IT support: In-house or a managed service provider (MSP). Both of these options have pros and cons which affect the decision making process.
1. Employing your own IT experts
Having expert IT support staff on hand to troubleshoot problems gives you instant response to technology issues. The challenge lies in employing people with the right combination of expertise. Computer network support ensures that all computers print to a networked printer, save to a server and access a networked CRM software. You may also need backup and recovery help and information assurance expertise to respond to remote security threats or physical disasters (fire, flood, weather, etc.). Depending on the scope of your technology needs, a single employee may not be enough. If you need a broad range of expertise, you could find yourself employing five or six highly skilled people. For a small business, this is cost prohibitive.
2. Contracting with an MSP
A managed service provider offers all the same services you get through a fully staffed IT department, without the associated price tag. An MSP gives your business access to a wide range of expert help to manage any problem. Plus, an MSP can help you assess your business and make recommendations on the best platforms and hardware for your operation. Of course, if you need instant service, there is no one on site to handle problems. The delay when waiting for an MSP can be very costly.
Get the Best of Both In-House and Contracted Service
As a small business owner, you must be flexible in your approach to problem solving. Staffing a full service IT department probably exceeds your technology budget, but you can combine the two methods to create full coverage for your business. Employing a computer network support expert minimizes issues that directly impact productivity, and your MSP can cover security and backup services. This allows you to get the maximum coverage at an affordable price point. Most MSPs charge based on the services provided, allowing you to pick and choose the right combination for your business. You enjoy all of the expertise offered through your MSP along with the instant service on an in-house IT department.