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The Differences Between On-site IT and Managed Service Providers

The technology field is rife with competition, especially between IT professionals. In one corner, you’ve got folks who work in-house at an organization and in the other you’ve got Managed Service Providers (MSPs). In-house IT staff are often weary of MSPs because for some organizations it’s a case of “one or the other.” That isn’t to say that the two entities can’t both co-exist peacefully and do an awesome job of keeping an organization’s technology up and running. We work alongside the internal IT team of many of our clients and act as an extension of their organization. We fill the gaps that their internal team may need assistance with their day-to-day and operational procedures and provide expertise and resources for bigger picture items such as budgets, project planning, and strategy.

inhouseIT

If you’re considering whether to hire (or keep) an internal IT team or sign on with an MSP, here are a few things to consider.

In-House IT

Many large organizations, or even smaller companies that have been around for a while, already have in-house IT teams in place. And of course, this is wonderful news. After all, having IT professionals handling your technology is so much better than letting Jim from Accounting be your go-to guy because of that one time he fixed the printer. However, there often comes a time when organizations begin to debate the merits of having an in-house team. Usually this happens during a period of growth or restructuring - either they’re growing and wondering how many more people they should hire to handle IT, or they’re downsizing and wondering which IT team members they should let go without it affecting the day-to-day operations significantly.

When it comes time to make these decisions, weighing the pros and cons of an in-house team can be difficult, as it often comes down to a numbers game.

Pros

Keeping your IT team in-house offers an organization many advantages. For starters, you know exactly who is doing what and when. With an in-house team, you’re working with your own employees/co-workers, which means they have just as much of a vested interest as you do in keeping everything in tip-top shape. It can also be a bit comforting to have face-to-face interactions with your team on a daily basis. As a side note, while some MSPs don’t offer the comfort of onsite, face-to-face interactions, this is one of the ways iuvo is different. We’re onsite and offer that comfort!

Additionally, since these are your employees/co-workers, you’re able to monitor things such as their continuing education and certifications. If your company has a program for it, you may even be able to foot the bill for some of their courses. This allows your organization to take control of the level of expertise your technology is receiving.

Cons

Those benefits do come at a cost - literally. Employing anyone means payroll and benefit expenses. There are also the overhead expenses of keeping their equipment up-to-date and running, as well as making sure they have adequate desk space, etc. These things can be quite costly depending on the level of experience your IT team member has (since more senior employees will require a higher salary) and the number of team members you need to employ to keep things running. Additionally, paying for the continuing education and certifications we mentioned above can add up, especially if you have a large team.

Finally, with an on-site team, the only resources you have are… well, the ones you have. If you’ve got a small team and an employee is out sick or on vacation it can slow down operations. And if there’s an unexpected absence that lasts more than a couple of days it can really throw a wrench into things.

Managed IT Service Provider

For some organizations the decision to hire a Managed IT Service Provider is one they made from the outset, choosing to contract with an MSP rather than bring on more employees. For others, the decision came about as they looked into restructuring, were experiencing a period of growth that their existing team could no longer service, or their internal team was lacking in a particular area of expertise. When and if the time comes to evaluate IT services and decide whether or not to contract with an MSP, there are - as with in-house teams - plenty of pros and cons to consider.

Pros

The pros of signing on with an MSP are plentiful. For starters, you don’t have to worry about paying the payroll expenses of a full-time employee. In addition, you get the broad knowledge of an entire team of people who are working for an organization whose job it is to be experts. That means you don’t need to worry about the credentials and capabilities of your team. The team at your MSP should have more than enough experience, expertise, and diverse skills to cover just about any situation that arises. Additionally, your MSP most likely has one or more people on call every night, weekend, and holiday to handle any issues that might arise during the off-hours.

Some MSPs, including iuvo Technologies, also structure their response teams so that coverage due to an illness, vacation, or any other planned or unplanned absence is never an issue. When employees at an MSP are off, there’s someone else primed and ready to go to step in wherever they might be needed. Documentation and information (such as usernames and passwords) are also stored securely in a manner that allows access to those who need it, when they need it. You won’t need to worry if someone leaves or is out, everything the MSP knows about your organization disappears with them.

Cons

For those business leaders that like interfacing with team members on a regular basis, working with an MSP can be a bit of an adjustment. The folks you want to see day in and day out aren’t necessarily there for you to speak with in person (but that doesn’t mean they aren’t accessible. At iuvo Technologies we are onsite as much or as little as our clients want to provide hands-on service!). Additionally, it can be a bit difficult to come to terms with an “outsider” having access to your company’s sensitive information. But MSPs and their team are used to signing NDAs and keeping information confidential. As you can see, the pros and cons will vary for every business and every situation. Things that may be important to one company might not even register as a consideration for another. And of course, some combination of the two might be what suits your organization best. It doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Having an MSP work with your on-site IT team is a great way to help balance a workload, provide additional coverage, or tap into vCIO services.

If you’re interested in learning more about working with an MSP, check out our eBook What To Expect When You’re Expecting IT.

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