Factors to consider
No matter what business you’re in, you’ve always had some definitive factors to consider: location and rent, marketing and sales, goods and services, supply and demand, management and staff. These days, you need to add in email, hosting, software and computer hardware, firewalls and security to that list. The reliance on technology grows less and less subtle as the impact of an outage or a security breach can force your business to a halt. On top of the cost of technology, you also need to consider the cost to maintain it’s operation and a best effort to guarantee and keep it operational. That best effort can spiral out of control if it isn’t managed properly, but there are ways to keep it simple and the cost can be easier to determine than you might think.
There are many ways your business can approach Information Technology, but here’s a few major factors that you should look at.
Training, Development and Consulting
Usually a good starting point and plays a big role in who you hire. Hiring someone with the necessary experience, or someone overqualified may be costly, while hiring an entry level position is a gamble on whether they can handle your technology or if they can maintain what you have.
Hours of support required
Not enough work to justify a salaried employee, or too much work for one employee to handle? It is often hard to determine how much support you need and usually depends on the count of users/devices supported or drafted historically on how many outages you’ve experienced – however that hardly prepares you for outages unforeseen as most of them are.
Complexity of your technology requirements
No matter who you hire, sooner or later you’ll run into a software, hardware, networking or any number of technology applications that your staff has never dealt with before, so you must factor in the cost of sending them to training, or hiring an outside consultant.
Did that help you determine your costs? I didn’t think it would – it probably just complicated matters and brought more questions to the table. Many small to medium sized businesses have found it more cost effective to hire local IT companies to come in at hourly rates – these are usually break/fix scenarios where the issue or outage has already occurred. Provided you brought in the right people to handle your needs, and how many times you’ve needed to call them to come back to fix your issues, this could potentially save you a lot of money or ended up costing you more than hiring that dedicated IT staff. Hourly rates are usually fairly hefty, and some companies may bill you all those hours even if they are sitting on the phone while on hold with your software vendor.
Hiring a MSP, or managed service provider, provides the best of both worlds. You would obtain support from an entire staff with all of their combined experience and knowledge, yet don’t have to pay the demanding salaries that come with it. You don’t have to send them off to training, or worry about having to work around an outage if your IT person is employee sick or on vacation. Even your accountant will love the fixed-fee model that you can pre-determine a cost and sign off on. However, when you’re looking for that special outsourced IT company, make sure to do your due diligence as the process should not be any less involved than hiring your own IT staff. Ask for their credentials and their experience and how they plan on maintaining and securing your technology and data. Like all things, don’t pay outrageous prices, but also keep in mind that the Managed Service Provider has most likely determined their rates depending on their overhead – including staffing enough members to support your needs, and experience required to suit your technology complexities. A low cost provider could be mean low level services. In some cases, that may be all you need, but in others it could hinder your progress or cause further complications down the road. Lastly, make sure that whoever you choose can provide proactive services that will reduce your overall costs for future break/fix repairs.
Find the right company to suit your needs. Or better yet, call us. Systech Consulting partners with many companies in our field – if Systech Consulting is not a good fit for you, we will point you in the direction of some one who is.