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IT options for small businesses: What’s the best tactic?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The recession put tremendous pressure on companies to explore ways to reduce costs—and IT expenses are no exception. The cost of maintaining and supporting computer systems and ensuring continuous end-user satisfaction can be significant.

Fortunately, there are now attractive alternatives for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to significantly reduce their IT budgets while simultaneously improving the uptime, effectiveness and satisfaction of their investments in computers and technology.

SMBs are typically limited to three types of models to manage and support their computers.

The first model: Invest and build out an internal IT department:

This is, by far, the most costly option to set up and maintain.

Most organizations will need to budget about $120,000 for just a single IT support professional. In the Washington, D.C., market, an experienced senior tech will command a salary of $80,000-$100,000. With benefits ($10,000), overhead ($5,000), training ($5,000), recruiter fees ($15,000) and required software tools and equipment ($10,000)—these costs quickly grow. Plus, based on industry standard turnover rates for IT staff, you will need to restart your recruitment process every two years.

Another alternative: Outsource the support of your IT department to an independent IT consultant:

This initially attractive low-cost alternative can be very difficult to make successful. However, these individuals can easily be found online, or through a referral from a friend or colleague. 

Their résumés may contain many industry buzzwords, but their experience and skills are often focused on just a few technologies. More important, their limited resources don’t allow them to scale to the cyclical needs of your business. And they have few resources to respond to the ongoing demands of more than one account at one time.

Furthermore, most haven’t made the investment in system management tools and applications and are, therefore, unable to offer service level agreements. As such, you should be prepared to churn through several people before securing one that can adequately support your business.

Final alternative: Outsource your needs to a dedicated IT support company or managed services provider (MSP):

This will save you 30% to 50% of the cost of the in-house model, yet you may receive higher levels of service and response than either of the other support models. There are many variations on this model and you need to be diligent in selecting a partner that has a comprehensive service offering. Select a company that:

  • Offers fixed-fee pricing
  • Utilizes a team of IT professionals who each perform specialized tasks and roles
  • Has staff members with multiple technical certifications
  • Leverages industry leading technologies to effectively manage your environment
  • Performs regularly scheduled on-site visits combined with unlimited remote support.

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