Comparing the Top 4 IT Support Options
How do you compare the top 4 IT support options for small to midsized organizations?
As you may know, technology is a vital part of any business, and having reliable IT support can mean the difference between success and failure.
According to a recent study conducted by Spiceworks, small to mid-sized companies spend an average of 8.2% of their yearly budget on IT support and technology. With such a large investment, picking the right IT support solution is crucial.
With so many IT support options, knowing the best fit for your business can take time. For example, should you hire an hourly IT contractor or an internal IT administrator? Or should you pick an outsourced Managed IT Provider or consider a co-managed service?
As one of the most experienced Providers in the Midwest, at Imagine IT, we are a little biased towards MSPs. But that being said, we understand that not all businesses are a perfect fit for us or Managed IT Services.
In this article, we will compare the top four IT support options and delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each.
From managed IT services to in-house support, we will examine the various options available to you and help you determine which one is the best fit for your organization.
As we dive into this topic, I encourage you to consider the importance of a solid IT infrastructure in today’s world. Your IT support is not just a tool for fixing technical problems, but it is also a critical component of your overall strategy for success.
So, let’s begin our journey and discover which IT support option can help you reach new heights in your business.
The top 4 IT support options for small to mid-sized organizations
1. Hourly IT Contractor
When it comes to IT support options, hourly IT contractors used to be a very popular choice for smaller organizations. This is because hourly IT support provides businesses the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of only paying for the support they need when needed.
However, while there are advantages to hiring an hourly IT contractor, there are also potential disadvantages to consider. In this section, we’ll explore the pros and cons of hourly IT support so you can decide whether it’s the right option for your business.
Advantages of Hourly IT Support:
Cost: One of the biggest advantages is that it can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time IT staff member or outsourcing to a managed IT service provider. Hourly IT support allows you to pay only for the support you need. This especially helps if you have a limited budget.
Flexibility: Hourly IT support also gives businesses flexibility when it comes to scheduling and support needs. Companies can hire an hourly IT contractor, adjusting their support conditions based on their changing IT requirements.
Disadvantages of Hourly IT Support:
Inconsistent issue resolution: The contractor will be available to resolve the issue but will often be unavailable for certain periods or days.
Lack of prevention: An hourly contractor will provide very little prevention of IT issues. The contractor will be called when things are “broken”, but will not prevent them from happening
Downtime: The business might experience unexpected and lengthy periods of downtime.
Limited expertise: Hourly IT contractors may not have the same level of expertise as a full-time IT staff member or an outsourced managed IT service provider. This will not work if businesses require specialized IT support or encounter complex technology issues.
Cybersecurity: With Hourly IT support, cyber security will be an add-on expense, and when it comes to pinching your investments, cyber security isn’t the place.
Potential risks: Relying solely on hourly IT support can also pose potential additional risks for businesses. It could lead to considerable downtime and impact business operations if they become available or reliable.
Little or no technology strategy: The contractor will need more business knowledge or strategic plans for your industry’s technology.
An hourly IT contractor is the cheapest form of IT Support. If price is the driving factor in choosing IT support, an hourly contractor will be the best, but the contractor will only react to issues after they have happened. This may result in longer periods of downtime for the organization. The hourly contractor will be of very little assistance in terms of strategic assistance or guidance.
2. Internal IT Administrator
Having an internal IT administrator can be a great solution for businesses that need ongoing IT support and have large enough budgets and resources to hire a full-time employee.
An internal IT administrator can be a dedicated resource for managing a company’s IT infrastructure, ensuring that all IT systems are up-to-date and cyber-secure, and providing you with support to employees when needed.
However, choosing an internal IT administrator for IT support has several advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of having an internal IT administrator:
In-depth knowledge: An IT administrator thoroughly understands the company’s IT infrastructure, which can be valuable for troubleshooting and resolving IT issues quickly.
Faster response times: An internal IT administrator can provide shorter responses since they are on-site and can quickly address issues as they arise.
Greater control: With an IT administrator, organizations have greater control over their IT and technology and can customize their IT strategy to meet their specific company and industry needs.
Cultural fit: An internal administrator will understand the company culture and integrate that culture more seamlessly into the team, leading to more effective collaboration and communication.
Personalized support: An internal IT administrator can provide customized support to employees since they work closely with the organization and understand its specific needs.
Easy communication: Communication with an internal IT administrator will be easier and more efficient since they are onsite and can respond to real-time issues. But can also lead to burnout in that position, which is a real threat.
Disadvantages of having an internal IT administrator:
Limited expertise: An IT administrator may need more expertise in certain areas, such as cybersecurity or software development.
Lack of scalability: An internal IT administrator may need help to handle sudden spikes in demand, which could lead to downtime.
Burnout: As mentioned earlier, an internal administrator may experience burnout if tasked with managing your entire technology infrastructure and handling all employee support requests simultaneously.
Staffing challenges: Hiring and retaining qualified internal IT administrators can be challenging, especially for small businesses with limited budgets.
Single point of failure: Relying solely on an IT administrator can be risky if they become unavailable or quit the company.
Limited availability: An internal IT administrator may only sometimes be available when employees need IT support, especially outside of regular business hours. This could lead to delays in resolving IT issues, impacting business operations.
Limited resources: An internal IT may have access to a different level of resources, such as specialized software or hardware, as an outsourced managed IT service provider.
Limited perspective: Your internal person may need more perspective on IT strategy since they are focused solely on the organization’s IT infrastructure. Developing a long-term IT strategy aligning with the organization’s goals could make it challenging.
Limited knowledge of cyber security: IT Admin usually have a limited knowledge of cyber security threats and products as they are not trained cyber security experts.
An IT Administrator works well for organizations with important or complex line of business applications. An onsite IT admin gives owners a sense of security because the IT admin has an office “right down the hall”. The cost of having an full-time IT Admin is typically higher than an outsources IT provider, but the IT Admin has a much deeper understanding of the IT environment.
3. Outsourced Managed IT Service Provider
If you’re looking for an outsourced solution for your IT support needs, a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) could be a great option. A MSP can provide a range of IT services, including network management, cybersecurity, and technical support, on a subscription basis.
However, choosing an MSP for IT support has several advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of having a Managed IT Service Provider:
Expertise: MSPs typically have a team of experts with specialized skills and knowledge, which can be beneficial for managing complex IT infrastructure and resolving technical issues.
Scalability: Managed IT Service Providers can quickly scale their services up or down based on your business’s needs, which can benefit businesses with fluctuating IT needs or growth plans.
24/7 support: MSPs typically offer 24-hour service. 24/7 SOC and NOC for monitoring critical systems
Access to technology resources: MSPs typically have access to a range of resources, such as advanced software and hardware, that may not be available to businesses that manage their IT infrastructure in-house.
Cost savings: Outsourcing to an MSP can be cost-effective since businesses can avoid the costs of hiring and training an internal IT team.
Proactive approach: MSPs typically take a proactive approach to IT support, which can help prevent IT issues before they arise and minimize downtime.
Industry compliance: MSPs can help ensure businesses comply with industry regulations, such as HIPAA or PCI DSS, which can be critical for certain industries.
Strategic planning: MSPs can provide services to help businesses develop long-term IT strategies that align with their overall business goals.
Cyber Security Protection: In many cases, high-end cyber security protections
Robust back-end team. This team will test and verify backups, security patching, application updates
Disadvantages of having a Managed IT Service Provider:
Lack of control: Outsourcing IT support to an MSP means relinquishing some control over IT infrastructure and strategy.
Limited customization: MSPs may need more flexibility to customize their services to meet a business’s unique needs.
Contract obligations: Businesses that work with MSPs are usually tied by contractual obligations, which can limit their ability to switch providers or change their IT strategy.
Data security concerns: Businesses that work with Managed IT Service Providers may risk sensitive data since they entrust third-party providers with IT infrastructure and systems access.
The outsources IT support model is becoming the standard for SMB. The list of advantages is long and compelling. Most of the managed IT support providers have figured out a communication cadence to make up for the lack of an “office down the hall” and the lack of daily engagement with the users within the company. The cost reasonable and the return on this IT investment makes sense for most SMB.
4. Co-managed IT Support – Internal IT and Managed Service Provider
A co-managed IT support company can be a great option if you’re looking for a hybrid solution for your company. A Co-managed IT support company can work alongside your existing internal IT team, providing additional expertise and support when and where needed. However, choosing a co-managed IT support company has several advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of having a co-managed IT support company
Big Team: Team of technicians familiar with the network and technical environment. Team of technicians available to troubleshoot more difficult issues Big team to support tech issues resulting in fast time to resolution
Deep Knowledge: Deep knowledge of important line-of-business applications.
Onsite Presence: Onsite presence and relationships with users.
Knows the business: Solid understanding of the business, through regular business relationship meetings and reporting.
Multiple Resources: Many resources for identifying and deploying solutions to drive business objectives
High-End Cybersecurity: In many cases, MSP will offer high-end cyber security protections
24/7 support if needed: 24/7 SOC and NOC for monitoring critical systems
Robust Backup and Recovery: Robust back-end team to test and verify backups, security patching, application updates
Never a lack of support: Never a lack of support for vacations or illness
Flexibility: Co-managed IT support companies can provide additional support as needed, benefiting businesses with changing IT and technology needs.
Customization: Co-managed can work alongside internal IT teams to provide tailored solutions that meet your needs.
Expertise: Co-managed IT companies can provide additional expertise in specialized areas, such as cybersecurity or cloud computing, which can benefit businesses with complex IT needs.
Cost-effective: Co-managed can be a cost-effective solution since businesses can avoid the costs of hiring and training additional internal IT staff.
Improved collaboration: Co-managed IT support companies can help improve collaboration and communication between internal IT teams and external providers.
Disadvantages of co-managed IT support
Coordination: Co-managed support requires coordination between internal and external IT teams, which can be challenging and time-consuming.
Potential conflict: There may be conflicts between internal IT teams and external providers over allotting responsibilities and decision-making.
Lack of control: Co-managed IT support may result in losing control over some aspects of IT infrastructure and strategy.
Integration challenges: Integrating external providers into existing IT systems and processes can be challenging and may require additional resources.
Contractual obligations: Co-managed IT support may be subject to yearly contracts, limiting a business’s flexibility and ability to switch providers.
For companies with a solid internal IT resource, this is the best option for IT support. It has all of the advantages of being supported by a larger team and still has the intimacy and deep knowledge of the onsite IT expert. The cost of slightly higher than the other options, but in most cases, it is well worth it.
Choosing the right IT support solution for your organization is crucial for your business’s success.
Hourly IT contractors can be a great solution for businesses with occasional IT needs. At the same time, an internal IT administrator may be a good fit for businesses that need more dedicated support.
Outsourced managed IT service providers can offer comprehensive IT support and expertise, while co-managed IT support can provide additional support and flexibility. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your business’s unique situation, goals, and budget.
By weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can make an informed decision that will ensure your business’s IT needs are met efficiently and effectively.
It’s also essential to stay up-to-date with the latest IT trends and technologies and evaluate your IT support options regularly. Doing so lets you avoid potential IT issues and ensure your business remains competitive in today’s digital landscape.
Ultimately, investing in the right IT support solution is an investment in your business’s success, growth, and longevity.