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Outsourcing Your Networking: Pros and Cons
Posted By Craig Sutton On May 2, 2014 @ 10:30 am In Management | 7 Comments
One of the most important decisions a business owner will make revolves around the handling of the company’s tech network. Facts are, most businesses today are driven by technology and when you have tech problems they invariably cause real life and real business problems.
Think I am wrong? What do you do when your email is down for hours because your network failed? What do you do when customer service can’t update a customer on the status of that important delivery? What do you do when you pick up the VOIP office phone and hear nothing for a dial tone?
If you answered “fix it myself,” congratulations! You are more knowledgeable than most.
But the majority of us will have to call somebody to figure out what is wrong, and this call has a price tag on it, whether this call goes to a staff employee or a third party that supports our network.
What is really best for YOU? Should you have an internal employee in charge of your network? Should you hire a consultant or other business that sets up and maintains networks? Should you outsource the handling of the network to your Internet services company?
When outsourcing, you reduce or eliminate the costs and other issues associated with hiring an employee. It is highly unlikely that you would find a single employee who knows everything there is to know in the world of tech. It is much more likely that your employee will be a generally knowledgeable person who will have a lot to learn on the job.
Outsourcing lets you focus on what your company does best, i.e., whatever business you are in. Keeping up with the technology required to run your business is expensive and time consuming. By outsourcing your IT networking, you can spend your limited time and money on items that are directly related to satisfying your customers, rather than on the underlying infrastructure. As important as your network is, remember, it’s still not your core business.
Your return on investment is so much greater when you outsource information technology to a firm that specializes in technology. Instead of just the knowledge of one person, you benefit from the experience of a team of IT professionals with wide expertise. Many IT companies require their IT staff to have proper industry training and certifications, a real benefit over using an employee who is likely to be a generalist with little training in specialty areas. And the cost of ongoing education is not your burden.
Professional providers work with multiple clients and need to keep up on industry best practices, so they usually have a better idea of what works or even better access to the knowledge they need because of technology partnerships. Technology is becoming more and more complex, and it is unrealistic to expect a generalist employee to perform in areas where specialized knowledge may be necessary.
IT professionals get benefits from the major vendors they work with, including access to expedited support from other tech companies, better pricing and access to account reps whose jobs are to make their operations run smoothly. In other words, you often gain cost efficiencies and shorter service turnaround times when you outsource to larger entities. Plus, you may have a single bill and possibly even a single support number when you outsource to your Internet services provider, making your management oversight easier and faster.
It’s important to have a good fit with any outsourced provider. There are several things you should consider on the other side of the coin:
1.) First, are you outsourcing the entire network or bringing on a consultant who will assist you with your in-house network?
Outsourcing your entire network can be the easiest route, and involve fewer decisions by and much less daily management involvement from internal employees.
If outsourcing to an IT consultant to help you with your internal network, be sure they understand your needs. Provide them a list of your software and systems needs, and match these to their credentials or abilities.
2.) What kinds of clients do they represent? Make sure they have clients of a similar size to your company, with similar tech needs and in similar industries. You want speed and performance.
3.) What technology capabilities and advantages can outsourced providers offer to you and how easy do they make it for you to deploy those? Are upgrades and new services relatively easy to install? If you are growing fast, you may not want to wait weeks or months.
4.) How reliable are their network services? It’s always best to avoid outages in the first place. And how responsive are they if you need support? That consultant from your church or neighborhood may be a great guy, but if he’s a one-man shop can he get your network back up and running quickly or will you be down for days? The more your needs grow and develop in complexity, the larger an outsourced IT company you need to rely on.
5.) Can you deal with a loss of ‘some’ control? These are not employees after all, so trust is a major part of this relationship. And there is the matter of confidentiality and security, so get an agreement in place that covers a breach of data and its implications. Understand the outsourced company’s security policies and safeguards.
In the long run it is highly unlikely that one person can keep up with all of the changes in tech today.
As your company grows, so will the demands in complexity for your network. The IT professional lives and breathes in this world. A team of IT specialists will undoubtedly have their own unique tech love and really understand it well and be able to stay on top of changes.
So using this knowledge and experience to your advantage will allow you to implement the soundest plans for your IT networking needs — and free your limited internal team to focus on your company’s growth. Just pick the right fit for whatever your needs are.
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