For most companies, IT integration is a necessary part of conducting business, and owners understand that getting the most out of their IT investment requires regular maintenance, reevaluation and technology upgrades when necessary. These requirements can be time-consuming when handled by individuals without the proper IT training and lead to costly mistakes. Most companies recognize that using an IT professional is the safest way to handle the development of infrastructure, routine maintenance, security assessments and new technology integration. However, once a business decides paying for an IT expert is the right decision, it has to determine whether its needs would be better met with an in-house IT professional on staff or by working with an IT outsourcing company. The question of in-house vs outsourcing can usually be answered by carefully considering the pros and cons of each option and determining which is the best solution for the company’s unique IT needs.
Pros of In-House IT Experts
Hiring a full-time on-site IT professional is a big decision for companies but can offer a solid return on their investment. There are a number of benefits that come from having in-house IT staff.
- Hands-on expertise: Having an in-house IT expert ensures you have someone who can not only diagnose any technical issues you experience but also personally address those issues. This reduces the opportunity for costly mistakes and is an excellent option if you anticipate complex IT infrastructure that will need regular monitoring.
- Working knowledge of your IT infrastructure and needs: Because the full-time IT expert is a permanent member of your staff, they’ll have an intimate understanding of the technology you use and the business needs your IT is meant to address and the opportunity to anticipate future needs and suggest updates.
- Immediate solutions: An IT professional on your staff can find solutions to technical issues as they occur, leading to less downtime and the implementation of fixes that are tailored to your business.
- Easier IT access for all team members: With a professional working on-site or a dedicated team of IT staff, technical issues experienced by other employees can be addressed directly without the need for a middleman to potentially miscommunicate the fix.
Cons of In-House IT Experts
Although an on-site IT individual or team can have a positive impact on the business’s technology infrastructure, there are some drawbacks that could make this option unsuitable for some companies.
- Can be expensive: A full-time IT staff member is exclusive to your business, so the burden will fall entirely on your company to pay a fair wage based on the rates in your area.
- Smaller talent pool: You’re limited to experts in your immediate area, many of whom may already be employed by other companies, which reduces your options even further.
- Limited to the individual’s knowledge: Without your IT person seeking external advice, your business is at the mercy of the professional’s knowledge level and solution preferences, which may not always be in line with your needs.
- Can be poached by other companies: Even if you find the right IT expert to hire, there’s no guarantee that person will remain with your company. Good IT professionals are in high demand, and companies with higher budgets may be on the lookout for a diamond in the rough.
- May only be available during normal business hours: Many on-site IT professionals are willing to be available anytime there’s a crash that takes the company off-line, but they may be less willing to work outside their scheduled hours, on weekends or on holidays for anything less than an emergency.
- In-house development of software could be difficult: Without a full development team, custom software for your needs could be too labor-intensive for an individual and may be beyond their expertise.
Pros of IT Outsourcing
Working with an IT outsourcing company is another possible way for companies to gain professional IT assistance. Structured as a more flexible option for businesses that don’t want the commitment of a full-time IT position, outsourcing offers many benefits that could make it a better option for business owners.
- Access to experts 24/7: Most outsourcing companies offer customer support that’s available at any time.
- More affordable: IT professionals who are outsourced have the benefit of working with multiple clients, allowing you more cost-effective access to the same skill set and giving you the opportunity to work with experts who may have been beyond your budget to hire exclusively. Smaller budgets may also get the benefit of outsourcing software development, providing access to customized software solutions that used to be out of reach without a full on-site IT team.
- Larger knowledge base: Outsourcing companies have a collective knowledge of IT trends, standards, security risks and government compliance that goes far beyond that of an individual professional. Your outsourced team is likely to come up with the best solutions for your IT needs.
- Talent pool that goes beyond the local area: You have the opportunity to find an expert with more experience than may be available to you through hiring in-house.
- Less commitment: There’s no need to create a permanent IT position, nor will you have to go through a termination process if the level of IT assistance you require changes.
Cons of IT Outsourcing
Although outsourcing can solve many of the drawbacks to hiring a full-time IT expert, there are some disadvantages that must be also considered.
- No face-to-face interaction: Most of your contact will be through remote means, such as online or over the phone.
- Possible communication issues: Without regular face-to-face meetings, and with the need for someone to relay information to other relevant on-site parties, there is the potential for miscommunication, which could cause mistakes.
- Possible longer turnaround time: Although the 24/7 help desk is available through outsourcing companies, accessing someone who’s qualified to create a solution to your issue may not be immediately possible. Sometimes you may have to wait for an expert to contact you.