Small or medium-sized business owners often must work on a budget and are sometimes forced to make hard decisions when prioritizing their company’s needs. Due to the IT skills shortage, and the general expense associated with IT development and management, some SMBs will attempt to hire less experienced professionals or may even decide to handle their IT needs on their own. Unfortunately, cutting corners in IT often results in a lower quality product, consumer dissatisfaction and a greater risk of sensitive data being compromised. For businesses that understand the importance of quality IT work but lack the funds or the knowledge base to maintain the standard they require, IT outsourcing offers a way to stay competitive without breaking the bank.
What is IT outsourcing?
When businesses have a need for IT skills to handle their internet or computer processes, it can sometimes be difficult to find a candidate who has the experience and know-how to bring on as a full-time IT employee. To prevent delays in business operations, some companies turn to external service providers that can provide many of these functions virtually, creating a subcontractor dynamic with third-party individuals or agencies. IT professionals will often just be hired for a specific project or time frame on an as-needed basis. This is especially helpful to businesses that are impacted by the IT skills shortage.
What is the IT skills shortage?
The IT needs of companies become more complex with each year that passes and require skilled IT talent to meet them. Unfortunately, the selection pool for these experts doesn’t seem to have enough individuals to cover the positions being offered. One reason for this is that many companies require an agile development schedule and seek someone with specific qualifications that few IT professionals can meet. Instead of choosing someone who meets most hiring criteria and waiting for them to grow with the needs of the company, many businesses choose to rely on IT outsourcing to provide temporary service. This ensures they always have the experts they need to remain competitive.
What can IT outsourcing do for SMBs?
Rather than try to maintain full-time IT staff, IT outsourcing lets SMBs bring in experts as they’re needed to assist them in the development, management and support of their software, applications, websites, databases, infrastructure and telecommunications. Because the use of IT outsourcing is fluid and doesn’t require a long-term commitment to a technical professional, business owners are free to shop around for third-party companies or individuals who are best suited to fulfill their immediate need. This means SMBs have a broader talent pool to choose from and can get the most for their time and money without needing to wait for an in-house specialist to learn a new skill.
IT outsourcing providers can offer a range of computer and internet-related services. Some of these services include:
- Technical support
- Development of software or applications
- Application management or support
- Development and management of databases
- Web development and hosting
The benefits of IT outsourcing for SMBs
The structure of IT outsourcing, in many ways, is the perfect complement to SMBs focused on growth. Larger companies often employ dedicated IT staff to ensure every individual who handles their IT needs is familiar with the inner workings of the company and that their skills evolve along with the changes being implemented. SMBs can experience change at a more rapid pace and may find themselves needing IT support that requires a very broad knowledge of a variety of services. IT outsourcing benefits to SMBs include:
- Cost savings: IT outsourcing gives SMBs access to the services they need for a more reasonable price than maintaining full-time IT staff. This way, IT assistance is only used when needed and the SMB is free to put the money they’ve saved back into the growth of their business.
- Higher quality: The professionals who work with outsourcing companies are often experts in their field and can be selected based on their strengths and experiences. SMBs have access to the same quality work that their larger competitors enjoy.
- Greater flexibility: SMBs are free to bring in IT experts on the company’s schedule and only use their services until the project is finished.
- A broader IT knowledge base: IT outsourcing professionals work with multiple companies that have a variety of needs. This gives them experience in a wide range of IT situations.
- Regulation compliance: Because IT outsourcing companies work with a variety of clients, they, and the professionals they offer, put in the time to stay up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations regarding IT work.
- Current standards: Credible IT outsourcing companies have rigorous recruiting and training systems in place to ensure their professionals are up-to-date on the latest IT trends and strategies.
What SMBs should know about IT outsourcing
There are a few things SMBs should keep in mind before they take advantage of IT outsourcing. IT professionals work intimately with a company’s data and security, so choose an outsourcing company that has developed an extensive recruiting process to verify the professionalism and expertise of their off-site technicians. Be sure to look for an IT provider that has sophisticated internal security processes and policies in place, with recognized certification such as ISO 27001 to prove it. IT outsourcing companies that take the time to develop internal professionals are a good choice because it shows investment in their people and a belief in their skills. Some companies offer special support structures set up for SMBs that focus on their unique needs, especially initial IT development, and ensure access to follow-up support. These services help guide an SMB through the steps needed to incorporate IT systems that offer real solutions and promote future growth. To really get an idea about how a company performs, look at the experiences of their past clients and decide if that will be a good fit for your needs.