Technology has broadened as services and products require expertise that can’t be mastered by one person.
There is a good chance that even if you have technology specialists on your staff, outsourcing for certain expertise or IT Management may be necessary.
Learn what outsourcing looks like in 2021, how much you should outsource, and if you need an internal IT department.
If you do have an IT department, learn how they can work with outsourced providers.
In 2021, Information Technology (IT) has been integrated in just about every business, where employees across the spectrum rely on technology to do their day-to-day tasks. Technology has also broadened as a discipline, as services and products require expertise that simply can’t be mastered by one person.
We used to look at the “IT Guy” as the one resource to fix any of our technology problems or tell us what products we needed to accomplish a task. But now even the best technology professionals don’t have all the answers. There’s no reason to expect this to change either. Every day the tech landscape is changing, pushing the trend toward IT specialization even further.
So there is a good chance that even if you have technology specialists on your staff, outsourcing for certain expertise or IT Management may be necessary. Let’s discuss a few ideas surrounding outsourcing.
What Does it Mean to Outsource IT Management in 2021?
Think of your staff and vendors as chains in a link. Each of those chains is necessary to succeed at achieving your goals. They operate independently but are also reliant on one another to have function and purpose.
Types of Technical Tasks Organizations Typically Need
When you outsource IT in 2021, think of every task your organization needs to accomplish. Each of these tasks could require on-staff expertise or a third party partner such as a Managed Services Provider (MSP). For many businesses, these tasks or roles include the following:
- Day-to-Day PC Support/Help Desk/Troubleshooting
- Backup Management
- Patch/Anti-virus/Anti-malware Management
- Network Management
- Phone System Management
- Web Design/Hosting
- Hardware/Software Procurement
- Compliance/Risk Management
- Project Management
- Data Center Management
This is a short and incomplete list, but each of these subjects has significant depth when it comes to expertise. With that in mind, you can’t expect the average small/medium size business (or even one specific IT Provider) to have people on staff that can accomplish all of these tasks in an effective way. This is where outsourcing comes in.
How Much Should I Outsource?
While the list above does seem long, it doesn’t mean you need many expensive solutions to accomplish your technology goals.
Keep Highly Specialized Tasks In-House
The general rule when approaching outsourcing is that the more specialized or immediate your needs are, the likelier an in-house expert is better.
For example, if your entire business was in e-commerce where customers on your website were constantly engaging with your staff, it would make sense to have some kind of web development expertise in house, since the website is central to the entire business model. On the other hand, this same business may outsource the hosting of their significant web presence to web hosting companies across the world.
Outsource Your More Generalized IT Needs
Services that are focused on operational efficiency and economies of scale make sense to outsource. Resources for technology management are limited, so you will want to invest the most into the less commoditized solutions.
Unless you are a large business with thousands of employees, it is likely that most of the technology functions you need will be outsourced, with possibly some in-house experts. Talent and resources are too limited to bring in personnel on staff for most technology needs.
Do I Need an Internal IT Department at All?
The Decision to Outsource Depends on Your Specific Business Needs
Sometimes, the answer to whether or not to outsource your IT management can be obvious. If you have only a few employees, you probably don’t need an IT department. The same logic applies to organizations with a small technology footprint. But the answer gets more complicated the larger your staff and your footprint become.
Whether you invest in internal IT staff or not, your management team and even your other staff still play an important part to your technology staff. Technology can only be utilized successfully if it is used to support the core business functions of the organization.
Management needs to have ownership in the decision-making process and solicit feedback from staff so that both the technology solutions and the people who manage them suit the needs of the business.
If I Have an Internal IT Department, How Do They Work with Outsourced Providers?
This can be a touchy subject, since the presence of outsourced resources could be intimidating for obvious reasons. However, there is no need to have an adversarial relationship between in-house and outsourced staff.
Understand the Distinct Benefits Brought by Your In-House Staff vs. Your Outsourced IT Provider.
There are a few key points to remember to establish trust and success between your in-house tech staff and your outsourced IT provider:
- The outsourced provider is usually trying to focus on doing a specific task and is generally not interested in taking on the extra work of in-house staff.
- In-house staff normally provide specific, personal needs to the business that can’t be replicated with a service call to the IT provider who lacks the intimate relationship of a 40-hour a week employee.
- The success of one is dependent on the success of the other.
Establish Roles, Responsibilities & Communication Standards
During onboarding of a new IT resource, whether in-house or outsourced, it is a good idea to establish:
- Communication standards
- Triaging for tickets
- General expectations
Following these standards will keep the teams organized and cohesive. It also helps establish a general relationship between roles on the team, as well as develop a better of understanding of strengths and weaknesses on both sides.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to outsourcing and establishing these roles, but most technology professionals realize they can’t handle it all. These kinds of engagements are happening all the time as technology becomes a more integral part of our lives.
Most Organizations Will Use Some Sort of Outsourcing
While outsourcing has its advantages and disadvantages, the reality is that technology needs, as well as increased complexity and specialization, means that most organizations will utilize outsourcing in one form or another.
By examining your business and determining where you need the personal approach of an in-house resource as well as the supplementary resources of outsourcing perhaps with a MSP, you will achieve the best performance and efficiency out of your technology.
To learn more about what it's like to work with a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP), check out my blog, "Frequently Asked Questions About Working with an MSP": https://www.dpsolutions.com/blog/msp-dps-faqs