15 min read

In-house vs Outsourced business IT support; pros & cons

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Deciding between in-house or outsourced IT support can seem a daunting task. One thing is certain, IT outages are costly. IT downtime costs UK businesses between £4,000 - £200,000 per hour, so it is important to weigh up your options to avoid IT outages and operational inefficiencies.

There are many factors to consider and it’s important to pick the right solution for your business. We have been in the business of outsourced IT support for 20 years and have spoken to thousands of companies weighing up their options. Both in-house and outsourced IT can hold its advantage over the other.

In this guide, we will look at in-house and outsourced IT pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages:

What is in-house IT support?
In-house pros
In-house cons

What is outsourced IT support?
Outsourced IT pros
Outsourced IT cons


Pros and cons of managed IT service providers

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What is In-house IT Support?

In-house IT support is having an IT department or IT specialist working inside your business premises. You will employ the individual or team, and you have full control over them. If you have a problem, they are responsible for fixing it.

 

Pros of In-house IT Support

The pros and advantages of in-house IT support include:

  • Quick support
  • Physically see the equipment/issues
  • One IT infrastructure = inside-out knowledge
  • Hired to fit the company culture
  • Training tailored to company IT needs

Quick support

With your IT department being on your business premises, you know that you are guaranteed quick support. Many outsourced IT companies will also provide quick support but can sometimes be difficult to contact if phone lines are busy. With an internal IT team, you can simply speak to them in person and get the problem looked at straight away.

On-site and can physically see the equipment/issues

Not only are you all but guaranteed quick support but you can also get eyes to view the problem. While an outsourced IT company can do this via a remote session, it’s never quite the same as being there in person. Being able to see an issue in front of you becomes a big advantage when the problem is with hardware rather than software. However, the influx in remote working  and cloud computing has taken the shine off this advantage. Businesses are moving away from on-site servers because of the many advantages of cloud vs on-premise.

One IT infrastructure = inside-out knowledge

An In-house IT team will only work on your systems. Having just one system to learn means they can quickly build up a detailed picture of your networks and more. Every IT infrastructure is unique and an outsourced IT company will have lots of different networks to remember. By having to learn just one system, it should mean your problems get fixed quicker.

Hired to fit the company culture

With an in-house IT team you can choose who you hire meaning you can make them part of your company culture. Employing people who are in line with your company values will improve productivity, and any HR problems can be resolved on site quickly.

Training tailored to company IT needs

When you employ somebody in-house, you can tailor the training for them. The training can be to enhance their IT skills or training that the whole company does. Training will not only help the personal growth of employees but your company to grow too.


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Cons of In-house IT Support

The cons and disadvantages of in-house IT support include:

  • Higher cost
  • No IT support during annual leave
  • IT support only covers 9-5, not evenings or weekends
  • Need to quickly replace IT employees
  • One person can't know or do everything
  • High level of trust
  • Resistance to change

Here's why in-house IT didn't suit one of our clients:

HubSpot Video

 

Transcript: When we acquired the business, when we first started, we had an in-house IT support person who was really good at his role, but the problem was we couldn't get him to be 24/7, so we always struggled when we had any issues.

The other problem that we had was, as we grew, and when we first started we had 30 people, at our peak now we have almost 200 staff, was way too much for them, so the in-house solution for us didn't really work. It was just going to be too costly and that's why we started to look for alternative options.

 

Higher cost

Cost is the biggest sticking point when it comes to in-house IT support is the cost of hiring the members of staff. A two-person IT team could cost you upwards of £50,000+ a year. It is a big investment and you have to consider if it’s a sustainable model for your business.

Annual leave coverage

Internal IT teams are usually small in numbers meaning if somebody is off on holiday or off sick your levels of support will be severely affected. Of course, you can combat this by not allowing more than one person to be off at the same time but you cannot control people who are off sick.

IT support only covers 9-5

What happens when your IT department goes home for the day and there is a problem that needs urgent attention? Internal IT teams are great while they are in the office, but no good when they are not. If your business is open long hours, it can be difficult to cover all hours with an internal team.

Need to quickly replace IT employees

Another problem occurs when IT experts resign. They must be replaced quickly in order to maintain the level of IT support your company requires. It often takes months to recruit; advertising, sifting through CVs, interviewing and serving notice. IT experts are also highly sorted, so you may choose to use a recruitment company to source candidates, which will, of course, entail a costly fee. After they are hired, they will need to learn your systems and may need to undertake training to get up to speed with your systems.

One person can't know everything

In-house IT has a vast knowledge of their own business' IT, but their knowledge and skill-set are often limited to what they have experienced within those boundaries. When taking on a larger IT project or something out of the ordinary, such as cybersecurity, it's likely that you will need to out-source IT help anyway.

 

High level of trust

Of course, employing trustworthy people is not a con, but you have to be careful and have high levels of trust. People you employ will have full access not only to your networks but your business premises too. There’s potential for this to be a huge security risk and if the information falls into the wrong hands it could cause everlasting damage. A disgruntled IT employee can potentially cause a lot of damage.


Resistance to change

We hear complaints of resistance to change. Consider this; you have created a unique IT infrastructure that has taken numerous years to achieve. You are proud of your work and your knowledge of this unique IT infrastructure makes you essential to the business. No one else would know what to do if an issue occurs.

Would you want change? Would you be happy to begin from scratch: open and objective about alternative systems or opportunities to overhaul the existing IT?

What should be concerning is the older and more customised an IT infrastructure is, the higher the security vulnerability as years pass by. Technology moves on and hackers get more sophisticated. There's no room for sentimentality when it comes to security or being left behind for long-term business survival.

 

What is Outsourced IT Support?

Outsourced IT support is where an IT or technology issue is fixed externally. You will call a company that looks after your systems to fix the problem remotely, and when they are required to attend onsite, you will see them in person. You choose which company to work (supplier/IT company) but do not choose or hire their engineers or technicians.


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Pros of Outsourced IT Support

The pros and advantages of outsourced IT support include:

  • Cost savings
  • Fixed monthly cost
  • Flexibility to scale-up
  • Short notice period
  • Problems fixed efficiently
  • Fountain of knowledge
  • 24/7 coverage
  • Less chance of outages
  • Economies of scale
  • Fast, agile and efficient

What are the benefits of outsourcing IT?

The benefits of outsourced IT include overall cost savings and fixed monthly costs for easy budgeting and greater flexibility to scale up. Depending upon your contract, there is a short notice period enabling greater flexibility. Outsourced IT tend to have experienced most IT challenges before, having a wealth of experience and access to more resources because of the scale they operate, resulting in issues being fixed efficiently. Outsourced IT also offers round-the-clock coverage, resulting in fewer outages.

 

Cost savings

Outsourcing IT support will save you thousands of pounds a year compared to insourcing your own. Usually, you will be charged monthly with a clear breakdown of what you’re getting. You don’t have to worry about hiring employees and the subsequent costs that follow.

Fixed monthly cost

Some IT companies, like Superfast IT, have a monthly subscription service. It makes budgeting for IT predictable as IT support cost is based per employee (using a computer/laptop).

Flexibility to scale-up

As the price of IT support is based per team member using a computer, it means that IT is scalable and can easily grow with your business. As your plan to hire, you can forecast the budget and have a clear idea of the 'desk cost'.  As your team size increases or decreases, so too does your IT capacity.

Short notice period

Do check your existing or prospective IT contract, but today there are IT companies that are set up like a monthly subscription, just like Netflix or Apple Music. In a monthly rolling contract, you are not tied into a long contract, instead, you only need to provide one month's notice. This is subject to what contract you have signed. Take a look at our cybersecurity price plan and IT price plan to see this in action.

Problems fixed efficiently

IT support companies will hire many staff and have access to more resources compared with an in-house team. Because of this, IT problems should be fixed more efficiently even if they’re unable to come to your premises. Outsourced IT teams will look for proactive over reactive fixes, with vast resources to fix problems before you know they are there.

Fountain of knowledge

Outsourced IT companies will have a vast range of experience inside their organisation. We have over 20 years of experience mastering IT support and cybersecurity for small businesses. Many in-house IT teams can’t offer this level of experience or have such a wide range of expertise.

IT support businesses usually have experts across a variety of levels and disciplines. This means their team can address all manner of problems with tried and tested solutions. There won't be many IT issues they haven't tackled before, and this is one of the main benefits of working with an outsourced IT company. IT support businesses already know the best suppliers, workarounds, what works best in specific scenarios and have good relationships with vendors to ensure you get the best deal from technology suppliers/vendors.

24/7 coverage

Any good outsourced IT support company will be able to offer you 24/7 support. Be 1pm, or 1am you will be able to call up if you have a problem with your IT. 24/7 support unless you hire several people, is something in-house IT cannot offer. If you need someone on call outside Monday to Friday, nine to five, this is another advantage.

Less chance of outages

Following on from 24/7 support you will often get 24/7 monitoring of your systems giving you less chance of outages. Rather than waiting to report an outage, system alerts notify the outsourced IT company in real-time. How much money would you lose if your network was down for one minute? How about an hour? A day? Or a week?

Economies of scale - cybersecurity

The UK government recently asked businesses for a call on views to understand why they use managed IT suppliers to tackle cybersecurity. One of the reasons was economies of scale. For many, using a managed service provider was fundamental to running their business operations and achieving a high level of security. In particular, businesses chose to outsource IT support because it was much better value for money. To keep data and business protected from cyberthreats is costly if purely run and maintained in-house:

Economies of scale - Managed IT service

 

Agile and efficient

Following this, respondents to the same call for views also highlighted that managed IT service providers offered businesses far higher quality of skills, expertise, technology, processes, accreditation, threat intelligence, and innovation.

Technology is moving at such speed, that many in-house IT departments don't have the capacity to deploy appropriate resources and capabilities in a manner that is agile, fast, and efficient. 

Agile and efficient - Managed IT service

 


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Cons of Outsourced IT Support

The cons and disadvantages of outsourced support include:

  • Being tied into a long contract
  • Mainly remote resolves
  • Can't explain issues face to face
  • Trust issues
  • Additional cost for project work

Tied into long-term contracts

One risk with outsourced IT support is getting tied to a long contract. Before agreeing to a contract you should always take note of your contact length and the notice period.

Remote resolve

While remote support will be available from an outsourced IT team, they can’t come to your site for every problem. Not being on-site can be a disadvantage, especially when it’s a hardware issue as the remote session won’t always be possible to locate the problem. This is where an on-site visit would need to be arranged.

Can't explain issue face to face

In-house IT support allows you to go and speak to somebody face-to-face. Outsourced IT teams will have several clients to deal with at once so sometimes you have to wait. Support tickets are sorted by priority so if a client has a whole system down it will be looked at before a single computer that’s broken.

Trust issues

Putting your systems in the hands of an external company takes a lot of trust. Before going into an agreement, you should look at the recommendations on their website and Google review. Also, speak to current/ex-clients if possible to find out if they are a trustworthy company. Any good outsourced IT company will be able to show you accreditations and testimonials from their clients.

Additional cost for project work

Not every IT eventuality is included in the cost of managed IT support. For example, we charge an admin fee to set up a new starter's computer/laptop. Project work is also a separate cost set-up costs With an internal team, taking on an IT project will incur the cost of any new equipment/hardware/software. Using an ex Our blog, what's included in IT support will help you understand what we include

 

Looking to outsource your IT?

Hopefully, this guide has helped highlight some of the pros and cons of both in-house and outsourced IT support. Every business is different. Some businesses prefer an in-house team while others will find it more efficient to outsource.

If you are considering changing IT providers or unsure about what your business needs, feel free to get in touch. We can answer any question, no matter how big or small.

 

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