How IT Outsourcing Benefits Your Business

How IT Outsourcing Benefits Your Business

Companies that outsource their information technology

can realize five distinct benefits

By Kevin Bozung

"We don't have an IT person on staff, but we have regular computer issues that Carl, our controller, has been elected to handle. It's getting in the way of Carl's job and causing other issues in our business. He's not really trained to handle IT issues, so they don't go away, and the rest of our staff isn't as efficient as they should be. Beyond that, nobody is really making sure our systems are being maintained properly."

If this sounds like your business, you aren't alone. Many businesses are dealing with a similar situation: They are big enough to need regular IT help, but can't justify the cost of an IT department. They feel the pain when their technology isn't functioning well.

Companies like these may benefit most from a managed services arrangement.

A managed services provider (MSP) firm delivers a defined suite of services, usually remotely via an Internet connection from an operations center. Some are focused on voice and telephony, others on ecommerce or printing.

One of the most popular uses of MSP firms is for IT support, namely data network and help desk services.

Managed service IT provides five core benefits:

A Skilled Team Technology advances have made IT more complex, with many sub-disciplines like network architecture, server operating systems, security, applications, cloud services, and databases. In the same way you wouldn't hire a plumber to fix a bad electrical outlet, you need a lot of skill sets for your entire IT "house." Most small businesses and nonprofits can't afford experts in all of those areas, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

A Secure Network Environment Perimeter security (firewalls), anti-virus, anti-malware, patch/updates management, and web content filtering are crucial to protecting valuable data. The MSP can also help ensure data is being properly backed up. A secure network is good risk management.

Economies of Scale MSPs use sophisticated monitoring software that reaches out to clients' networks and reports back very detailed information, down to the components of a machine and even its temperature, alerting technical staff when something isn't right. Good monitoring is key to network administration and can be done well from outside your walls, saving you money.

Preventing downtime Like any complex system, routine maintenance helps reduce failures. Uptime is achieved through thorough and regular physical maintenance, system checkups, and having systems properly configured in the first place.

Standard Processes Since systems are rooted in structured, repeated action, so must be the approach to maintaining them.

"Seventy-eight percent of all downtime in IT systems is caused by change. Manage change, and manage the risk of people not being able to work." -IDC Insights Research, 2010

The best-run IT departments have consistent leadership, strong documentation standards, a centralized management system, and apply industry standard processes to everything, from how they handle requests for support, to how they roll out updates and manage deployment projects. Managed service IT brings this process-driven approach to small businesses, helping them run more smoothly.

Organizations need security, connectivity, and reliable IT resources. Managed Service IT is a suite of services to deliver that. Working with an MSP can free people like Carl and the rest of your team to do their work that impacts the bottom line.

Kevin Bozung is a principal at Safety Net. He can be reached at kbozung@safetynet-inc.com.

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