Now, more than ever before, modern businesses are reliant on IT services and support to maintain daily operations. Upwork reports that 40.7 million Americans will be working remotely by 2026, representing a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels.
This means that IT departments the world over will be changing and growing, and many business owners and decision-makers will be facing a tough choice: should you expand your IT department internally, or should you outsource your IT?
Whether you’re doing it yourself and keeping IT in-house or you decide on outsourcing to a professional third party, you’ll find pros and cons associated with both strategies.
Pros and Cons of Doing It Yourself
Some organizations have IT needs that are so complicated and nuanced, an in-house option is the only way to go. Others might think they want to go this route, only to find the cons outweigh the pros. See below for a list of both.
Pros of Doing It Yourself
The pros of doing it yourself include:
Quick response times: In-house IT teams can respond to issues immediately. This is extremely important, as faster response times equate to shorter downtime. The quicker your issues are resolved, the quicker you’ll be able to resume operations as normal.
Knowledge of your business: An on-site team will know your business inside and out, including the specific nuances that could take third parties weeks or even months to grasp. This intimate knowledge of your operations, as well as your IT infrastructure, could equate to faster, more holistic resolutions from a team that is inherently invested in your business’s success.
Knowledge of your people: Knowledge of a business extends to knowledge of people, and that includes your customers, users, managers — everybody that interfaces with your organization, inside and out. This allows your IT team to wear different hats and address multiple preferences, while still focusing on just your organization.
Unmatched control: When it comes to training, execution, budget, hiring, and personnel, you have unmatched control with an in-house team. This is where knowledge of your business and people can truly contribute to your solutions, as you position resources and personnel where they fit best. You might turn to automated solutions for certain processes like patch management to free up personnel for more intensive issues like troubleshooting or new integrations — it’s all completely up to you and your organization.
There are also downsides to taking care of IT yourself, including:
Higher cost: Whether you’re building your IT team from the ground up or scaling an existing operation, hiring personnel and procuring new equipment can be costly — especially when you figure in employee benefits, training, and onboarding, as well as equipment setup, maintenance, and additional overhead.
Lack of 24/7 coverage and support: In-house IT teams generally only work when the business works — but what happens if your website or your socials get hacked or go down after work on a Friday night? Will your onsite team be able to respond in an acceptable amount of time? Another issue may occur when support tickets and critical issues pile up and your team is unable to respond to them all promptly simply due to volume. Scalability is much harder with in-house IT.
Lack of necessary skill: You may not be able to find the skilled workers you need in that time that you need them, or for the price that they’re asking. Skilled specialists are in high demand, and no single employee can know everything. The same goes for upskilling and training; the time and cost it requires to uptrain employees might outweigh hiring third-party experts.
Increased key-person risk: If you find one or two of your IT staff members are stellar, irreplaceable performers due to knowledge that they alone have concerning your business, you have a problem. If these key people ever leave and take that knowledge with them before passing it on, it could have disastrous consequences to your operations. In-house IT solutions generally contribute to increased key-person risk, unless organizations actively work against these outcomes.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
If you’d rather focus on running your business and leave the IT work to a group of proven professionals, outsourcing may be the way to go for you. Of course, there are downsides to outsourcing too — see below for the pros and cons.
Pros of Outsourcing
The pros of outsourcing IT include:
More cost-effective: Generally speaking, outsourcing all or even some of your IT needs to a third-party managed service provider (MSP) tends to be more cost-effective. MSPs typically charge a monthly, fixed cost for a line-item list of services, allowing you to focus your finances on boosting your bottom line instead of variable IT expenses and upkeep.
Expertise, experience, and equipment: Third-party MSPs that specialize in IT can provide expert staff with experience across multiple sectors, and they have their own equipment. When certain solutions and technology become outdated, MSPs foot the bill for new hardware and software, and then train their people how to use it — so you don’t have to.
Flexibility: Outsourcing your IT allows you to be flexible. If you have wild swings in business and your MSP’s professional services automation (PSA) solution sees a massive uptick in support tickets, for example, you and they can allocate more resources to resolve that particular issue, and then divert these same resources once it’s resolved. Scalability and flexibility are key features of outsourced IT.
24/7 support: Any business that does business 24/7 needs 24/7 support — and any MSP worth its salt will provide that. While in-house teams may be able to respond to issues more quickly, outsourced service providers offset that with consistent availability over longer periods.
Cons of Outsourcing
The downsides of hiring a third-party IT provider may include:
Limited control: The amount of control you have over your IT services is going to depend on the MSP you decide to partner with. That said, only in-house support can offer 100% control of your IT solutions and resources. Outsourcing IT can also leave you less able to shift gears or change project priorities quickly.
Possibility of poor service: While not the norm, there is always the possibility that the MSP you partner with will deliver less-than-satisfactory performance. Of course, you can mitigate this by carefully selecting your MSP after deliberate research and extensive interviews. Be sure to pay attention to your service level agreements (SLA) as well as customer reviews of the MSPs you might be partnering with.
On-site response is limited: While MSPs can handle many things remotely nowadays, certain things just cannot be handled offsite. Unfortunately, that means on-site troubleshooting may not be covered by your MSP, or that an on-site issue may take much longer to resolve with outsourced IT.
Communication barriers: Just as on-site response capabilities may be limited, so too may communication be inhibited. You definitely won’t be seeing members of outsourced IT in person, but if you’re comfortable handing the reins over to somebody else that may not be a problem.
How To Decide Between DIY and Outsourcing
Deciding whether to outsource your IT needs or take care of them with an in-house team is going to depend on your business’s unique needs. Do you have intricate IT needs and a robust budget? If so, it might be better to hire and build up your team of experts and specialists on-site. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comprehensive IT solution that you can scale up or down for a monthly service fee, outsourcing to a third-party MSP might be better for you.
There is a third option to consider as well: the hybrid model. If you already have decent in-house support and personnel but find you occasionally need a little extra help, you can outsource some of that extra work instead of hiring new people or buying new equipment. This represents the best of both worlds and could be just the solution you’re looking for.
Look at your budget, your needs, and then compare your options. Ultimately, only you can decide whether you should go with an outsourced MSP, in-house support, or a hybrid model that supports both options.