At a certain point in the growth of any business, a CEO or General Manager is going to be faced with the decision to retain core IT services in house or to outsource them.

Let’s look at the evolution of a business from startup to success.

A lot of small business startups are “fairly savvy” and decide to go it alone for a while to keep costs down. A typical 4 or 5 person startup will probably be using laptops and working with cloud based software and email services. That keeps things nice and lean in the short term.

Then, as your business grows you find that the cloud doesn’t meet all your needs and you start looking at some in house infrastructure – maybe a small file server / NAS unit to share files. Networks start to get busier and of course the startup staff probably don’t have time to keep their laptops patched and up to date. It is an easy decision to look at getting a local IT company to provide some adhoc IT services to keep things running and answer staff questions. After all – you want your startup team to be focussed on growth and not IT issues right?

So, the business continues to thrive (hopefully!) and you realise that the small IT company looking after you has a constant turn over of staff and each time you call, you get a different person who doesn’t understand the history and requirements of your business. This gets frustrating – they mean the best but let’s face it, you are paying them for adhoc work – probably on a break – fix arrangement.

The next step is usally to get a bigger IT company involved – someone who has more experience and can advise you on matching your IT needs to your growth expectations. You get more staff, more computers, a bigger network and things appear to be getting more complex. The cost of IT rises and then the logical thought process follows: “I am paying all this money for IT services – maybe I should just hire an internal staff member to manage our needs?” It is an attractive thought to have someone “on the inside” who lives and breathes the company with you but hold on a second. There are a couple of points you need to consider:

  • The internal hire will be available in house for say 40 hours a week – right? Who will look after things when this person goes home, is sick or is on leave? You are actually having to pay an internal hire even when they are not working.
  • What is the core skillset of the internal hire? IT is such a wide field today – can one person really have all the skills required to manage a network, internet and infrastructure, provide help desk services, understand all the software you use etc etc. The answer is not likely.

So it isn’t a clear cut decision and the logic is not as strong as it would appear at face value. Some businesses opt to have a full house staffer and an external IT company to consult with when that person is “out of their depth” but without a clear structure in place I have seen this type of arrangement suffer.

My own recommendation, based on years of experience is that comapnies are better offer keep IT support fully outsourced until they hit around the 100 to 120 staff level and then consider a hybrid solution. A good IT company should be able to take its place at the management table with you and contribute meaningfully towards the growth of the company. After all – while you grow – so do they!

So what should you look for in a great outsourcing company….ahem – here comes the pitch:

  1. A dedicated account manager – someone who can sit in on management meetings when required and advise you how to leverage your IT and achieve the best outcome for business growth.
  2. A company that can offer you support outside standard business hours – after all – who actually just works 9 to 5 any more?
  3. A company that can do major software and network upgrades after hours so that your company doesn’t experience down time at critical moments.
  4. A company that documents your IT systems so you aren’t dependent on a single person to know it all.
  5. A company that can provide you IT consulting services across the IT spectrum – not just desktop support.

The above sounds a lot like us 🙂 Does the article remind you of your own journey?

We would love to hear from you to share our experience and help take your business to the next step.

Better still, we can show you how it is even cheaper than hiring an internal resource.

Drop us a line

Daniel Hutchinson on Email
Daniel Hutchinson
Daniel Hutchinson
Daniel Hutchinson is the CEO of several tech companies in the Computing Australia Group. These include Computing Australia, Codesquad, Confidential Technology Services and Staff Guru. He has extensive business interests in Australia and India.

He is a skilled business analyst who specialises in helping companies match the right technology to their needs.

Daniel blogs extensively on a wide range of IT topics.