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Choosing between External or Internal IT Support: Why not both?

Posted May 31, 2018
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Hiring an internal IT person or outsourcing IT support doesn’t need to be an ‘either/or’ decision. In this article, we show you how a mixed support can work well for your business.

By Chad Gowrea, Director - Solutions and Strategy

In recent years, most businesses have undergone some form of digital transformation, and at some point in the evolution of each business, it becomes necessary to reassess the organisation’s IT support model. Should support be provided by an internal person or team, or outsourced to a professional IT service provider?

For many organisations, this doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. In fact, a combination of both may offer the most efficient and cost-effective approach. The perfect balance between external and internal support will depend on your budget, the complexity of your IT infrastructure and the size of your organisation.

As we have successfully partnered with many businesses that also run an internal IT department, we would like to share the benefits and value of having an internal and external resource. By working together, both IT teams can enable a support model that allows the business to outsource a combination of functions while retaining others in-house. These functions include strategy, support, strategy execution, projects, etc.

Potential Internal/External Support Structures

1. Level 1 Support in-house. Level 2-3 Support, ICT & Information Systems Management and Strategy outsourced.

This structure can work well for smaller organisations of *70-150 employees. Your business will benefit from a responsive person on the ground – someone who can meet face-to-face with users and develop a deep understanding of your business and applications over time.

*70+ users is the recommended starting point for employing a dedicated Level 1 support person. If your business has anything below that, it will usually pay a premium for this resource. There is considerable competition for technical expertise from large corporations and technology firms, meaning you will need to offer a competitive package & environment to attract and retain skilled and experienced staff.

If your business has over *120 employees, this becomes a cost-effective approach that adds value to your organisation, but it’s still important to partner with a professional Managed Services Provider to provide support and regular mentoring (at least monthly) to your dedicated IT support person. Together, they can form a cohesive team to effectively support your business.

*This recommended guide is generic. Exceptions apply to organisations with complex needs or depending on how advanced they are with their IT, in which cases, the appropriate employee number count may differ.

2. Information Systems Manager in-house. Level 1-3 Support outsourced.

For organisations with more than *150 employees, or with highly complex/advanced software systems, it can be beneficial to hire a dedicated Information Systems Manager (IS Manager) – someone who has a strong business understanding and is capable of defining and managing your overall IT strategy. This person should have a deep understanding of your business processes and how to relate them to your information systems.

To allow the IS Manager to focus on their core role, you can choose to outsource other functions such as Level 1, 2 and 3 support. Your Managed Services Provider can also provide specialist skills and professional advice when needed, in areas such as application implementation, specialised application integration, custom report/dashboard creation and strategy development.

Challenges

When choosing which approach to take, it’s important to consider the common challenges faced in a mixed internal/outsourced support environment, and how to overcome those challenges.

1.   Career progression path for your dedicated in-house IT professional is one of the most critical considerations when adopting this mixed approach. If this person feels as if their role is stagnating, then they may grow dissatisfied and unproductive, or leave the organisation. We usually resolve this by developing a close partnership with our clients and helping to mentor the IT support individual as they progress into a role where they have a better understanding of the information systems, or alternatively, we can employ this person as their skills develop.

2.   Knowledge transfer is another important consideration. If you rely on only one or two internal IT support, you need to be certain that vital skills are not lost if your IT support person moves on. We mitigate this risk by maintaining co-ownership of key processes and documentation, helping to maintain critical knowledge that can be transferred to new employees.

3.   Cost, as mentioned previously, is a challenge for many organisations. It’s essential to weigh up the costs of dedicated in-house support staff versus outsourcing these functions to an efficient Managed Services Provider (MSP).

4.   External influence & exposure to the latest industry trends can be hard for an internal resource. As we work with different industries and are involved in what other companies are doing in their space, we usually help to bridge that gap by mentoring the IT support person through training sessions and by establishing a close relationship with the contact, where there’s an open communication channel and is easy for us to deliver relevant updates (at least monthly).

Conclusion

Most businesses that we work with don’t require a large IT department, so depending on the size of the organisation it can make more sense to retain one or two internal IT support staff while strategically outsourcing specific functions to an experienced Managed Services Provider.  Modern technology evolves so quickly that no single individual can maintain the skills needed to support today’s complex IT environments, with the ever-present risk of cyber-attack. That’s why a partnership with a professional IT service provider can offer the best solution for your business.

To discuss the most effective IT support options for your organisation, call Bremmar today on 1300-991-351 or email help@bremmar.com.au.

By Chad Gowrea, Director - Solutions and Strategy

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