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This is the first blog of a four-part series intended to help small and midsize organizations understand the challenges of managing technology and why they should consider outsourcing to a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP).

Small and midsized businesses (SMB) have unique challenges when it comes to IT. There’s the same need to leverage technology to allow the business to innovate, be productive, and increase profitability that larger organizations have, but without as many IT resources. To address IT resource needs, most SMBs fit into one of two camps: either you have limited internal IT coverage or you “have a guy” that you call whenever there are problems.

So why should you consider outsourcing your IT?

To begin, let’s level set on definitions. Outsourcing is the engaging of an external IT services firm to provide managed IT services (that is ongoing comprehensive management of your technology in the same manner an internal IT resource would). It includes both keeping operations running, as well as providing guidance around how to best move forward as business needs and technologies change.

Outsourcing is not a time & materials hourly tech person that comes in when an issue arises; that’s simply someone technical fixing a singular problem.  Like your enterprise counterparts, SMBs need someone focused on the proper continual management of the IT environment to ensure system uptime, performance and data protection.  Additionally, organizations need IT resources that can create and implement a vision for future IT needs based on evolving business requirements.

So now that we better understand what IT outsourcing is, when does it make sense to consider? 

Let’s look at the topic from the perspective of the IT challenges faced by SMB’s today that are key reasons for considering outsourcing as a viable alternative:

  • Limited IT Expertise – Most internal IT staff lack expertise in the technologies necessary to move your business forward. In reality, the last person an SMB owner should want leading the company’s technology is the person that’s worked exclusively in your company for many years.  Their technical prowess is often outdated, and they may not have the knowledge or experience to leverage new technologies, migrate to the cloud, stretch technology budgets, and mitigate operational risk. The right outsourcing partner has years of experience helping companies just like yours address IT problems and drive technology to increase competitiveness and productivity.
  • Single Point of Failure – Relying on a single internal individual or the external “IT guy” brings with it some serious personnel risks; one illness, vacation, or better job opportunity, and you can quickly find yourself in a world of hurt. Outsourced IT partners generally have a sizeable number of engineers on staff that can address their customer’s needs, ensuring there’s never a gap in your IT coverage.
  • Security Concerns – The growing risk of cyber attacks using complex and sophisticated approaches can overwhelm an internal IT generalist. The lack of expertise generally means they rely on lots of security tools, that while being “cutting edge” years ago (e.g., Antivirus), now simply provide a false sense of security. Outsourcing to the right partner can ensure the use of cost-effective solutions that provide better security.
  • Growing Remote Workforces – Remote employees and those on the road using a variety of networks (e.g. airports, home, coffee shops, etc.) increases the complexity of the environment and the strain on internal IT. It also increases the strain of maintaining a secure environment no matter where the user is. This is a common scenario for managed IT service providers (MSPs) today, as organizations like yours all face very similar challenges around remote users, locations, and services.

A big part of managing IT is managing risk. There’s the risk of downtime, compromised data, decreased productivity, regulatory non-compliance, and lost revenue. And that risk is mitigated by how your technology is (or isn’t) managed. And the risks of poor IT management have never been higher.  According to a recent industry study, 93% of SMBs consider IT to be business critical.  And according to another study, half of all cyber attacks are targeted at SMBs.

Outsourcing allows your organization to leverage a large team of experts whose core competence is IT.  They are current on all emerging technologies and understand what will work best in your unique environment.  They can help you instantly leverage IT best practices and best-in-class IT management tools to ensure your business.  And best of all, they can often save you money.  Better business outcomes, reduced risk and peace of mind, now that’s a winning business proposition.