Why outsource your IT department?
IT operations are an integral part of any big, successful business in today’s digital world. Large companies like Chase, Amazon, and Disney wouldn’t dare operate without a full IT department to ensure their investments are secure and always in working order. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the small business, which may lack the time, resources, or employees to manage on such a crucial undertaking. From structuring email accounts to maintaining constant internet access, the role of IT should never be underestimated. But when it comes to employing a full-time IT staff, small businesses should evaluate whether or not outsourcing is the wisest route to take.
Questions to ask before outsourcing your IT operations?
The modern day business owner is tasked with managing multiple aspects of their business, and it may be wreaking havoc on their bottom lines. Between sales, creative work, accounting and strategy, business owners may be faced with more work they can handle. Outsourcing IT means freeing up time to take care of the more crucial aspects of your business. From hunting for the best accounting program, to making sure your employees’ emails are set up properly, the tasks that come with IT are plenty, but nothing a trained contractor can’t handle for you. Making the choice to delegate this portion of your business leaves you to focus on what really counts. Outsourcing IT is also a wise move if you’re hoping to cut costs across your business. Not only may you see larger profits, but you’ll also be saving on the overhead costs of housing one less full-time employee.
There are several questions small businesses should consider when determining whether to outsource their IT operations. Answering these can help you determine whether or not outsourcing is right for you.
1) How closely is your industry tied to IT?
This may come as no surprise, but a robust IT department might be necessary if you’re doing business in an industry that entails lots of IT. Outsourcing IT for small businesses is advised if computers and tech take up only a small portion of your efforts as a business. Take a bakery, for instance. Aside from a POS system and perhaps some online inventory, there is really no need for a bakery to have an intricate technology department. While a POS system is important for any business in the modern age, an outsourced IT specialist to handle maintenance is more than enough to keep the business afloat without breaking the bank.
2) What are the savings associated with making outsourcing IT for small business?
Small business owners can’t afford to hire individuals whose talents won’t be utilized on a regular basis. This is just the nature of small businesses. If, over time, you’ve witnessed a lack of need for an IT professional, outsourcing or contracting one on a retainer may be the best choice for growing your business. If you are currently paying a full-time employee or employees to manage your IT services, consider cutting back. Evaluate the savings of paying one employee a retainer fee, rather than a full-time wage. You may be able to cut your costs by half, or even more. These are the type of decisions that must be made if you’re hoping to make your small business successful in the long run. Letting go of employees is never easy, but doing so when needed can make all the difference between a successful business and one that fails before it even really starts.
3) Is IT outsourcing compliant with your industry?
Data security for small businesses is an important part of day-to-day operations, regardless of your industry. But for other industries that deal with people’s private information, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed. The healthcare industry, for example, is subject to strict procedures to ensure patient privacy is protected, at all costs. Failing to abide by these standards can have major consequences for businesses, making it paramount for small business owners to be aware of changes in regulations. While outsourcing IT may not be possible for every small business, it is certainly an option for some. So long as your small business is compliant with regulations, outsourcing IT shouldn’t be a detriment. Doing so may even open you up to a new method of data security that is even more effective than the last.
4) Can your IT services benefit from flexibility?
The internet is always changing. What worked well one day may not work for the next, meaning businesses are constantly faced with keeping up with trends and the latest in technology. Keeping full-time IT employees on deck may seem like the safest option, but do not forget that you will always be limited to their skill set, or lack thereof. Whether there is a new program to be installed or an entire data overhaul to be conducted, a talented IT specialist can handle most tasks, and if they can not, there is more than likely another who can.
By outsourcing IT, small business owners can be sure they are selecting from IT professionals who have the skills they need, and can be flexible with their needs to begin with.
Which tasks can be outsourced?
If you decide outsourcing truly makes sense for your business, you’ve then got to determine which tasks can be outsourced. Typically, these fall under three categories.
Say you’re a small business that could really benefit from the guidance of a professional IT consultant. You may not be able to afford bringing either of these on full-time, given the scope of their responsibilities and thus, pay grade. But you could almost certainly benefit from the expert insight and vast knowledge an IT consultant can bring to the table. So this case, outsourcing a consulting professional with experience in small businesses to come in a couple of times per month to make sure your IT operations are running correctly.
Small business owners and employees likely wear many hats, meaning they can’t afford to spend too much time on tasks that rank low on a list of priorities. If your business currently involves a lot of tedious tasks that can be outsourced, don’t hesitate to look outside your regular staff. Likely, there is freelancer IT specialist or data entry freelancer willing to do the work, and your employees will thank you for these tasks off of their plate.
Some industries, like IT, for instance, are constantly changing. The IT industry is just one example of specialized skills and knowledge that, in the long run, may be more valuable than one employee whose specialized skills are limited. A freelance web developer, for instance, may invest more money in keeping up-to-date with the latest programs and processes, while your full-time IT employee may be an expert at your current system and little else. If you anticipate having a business that is constantly changing with the tides, outsourcing may be the best option.
Your search for contractors
Deciding to outsource means you’re on the path to doing business more efficiently, but what you should look for when searching for the right contractor? As a rule of thumb, take the three “A”s into account when you’re scouring Google for the best person for the job.
While you always want the most talented contractors to work with, talent means little if they’re not available when you need them to be. Always be sure that your contractor is committed to your needs before you sign any contracts. You may be counting on this person for some important work down the road, and knowing they will be ready for it when you do makes all the difference in terms of peace of mind.
Communication is everything when dealing with contractors. You want to be sure that your chosen IT contractor has strong communication skills and that they are easy to get a hold of in the event of an emergency. Don’t be afraid to ask about procedures and what constitutes adequate response time. Perhaps you need a contractor that is accessible 24/7 while some are only accustomed to responding Monday thru Friday, 8-5. Being on the same page from the get-go ensures a smooth transition from
Outsourcing just doesn’t make sense if it’s not cost-effective. This is why it’s so important that you do your due diligence before committing to an IT contractor. While outsourcing IT can be a strategic business move that will improve your profits in the long run, hiring a contractor that charges an arm and a leg won’t get you there any faster. Make sure you’re dealing with contractors you can afford, or you’ll quickly begin to regret outsourcing.
Small businesses hoping to outsource their IT operations can anticipate a variety of benefits. In a world where the potential of the internet has led to countless opportunities for so many individuals, it’s a wise move for any business to really put focus on how they are utilizing the internet for their operations, and ensure they’ve got the right person, or people, on board to help them achieve their goals.