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Hiring IT employees vs. hiring an IT company

Service Operators

Hiring IT Employees vs. Hiring an IT Company

As your business grows, your IT needs will change. It’s inevitable. If you’ve been doing IT yourself with the help of a designated employee, you may find you no longer have the time to manage your business and your IT. The next logical step is to either hire more IT employees or outsource and partner with an IT company. This is an important decision with key issues to consider. In this article, we’ll cover the six questions you should ask about each option.

Who “owns” the responsibility for managing your IT and the IT technicians?

Hiring in-house IT employees

This seems like an easy question to answer right? When you hire in-house IT employees, it’s obvious you have an IT department that “belongs” to your business. They’re a part of your team. This can be a great thing. However, the ownership and responsibility for your IT rests solely on your shoulders. Ownership means someone in your organization must manage these employees and a growing IT department. This is a hidden expense of time and money.

Effectively managing and overseeing the quality of your IT department requires knowledge, research, and time learning IT.  You must track their response and resolution times and make sure they have the skills and tools they need to do their jobs. You have to speak their language in order to evaluate their performance. Do you know what to track?  How do you know that the “experts” you hired are doing what is necessary to manage your office IT well? 

Ultimately you must ask yourself:  Do I have someone on my team who is knowledgeable enough about IT to manage these employees and hold them accountable? Or, am I willing to hire someone who is? 

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Hiring an IT company

When you hire an IT provider, there is a shared responsibility for maintaining and protecting your IT systems. This is true whether you outsource entirely or have them partner with your in-house IT employees. While you are the network owner and final decision maker, the IT company is responsible for maintaining your network and managing the technicians and engineers. You are responsible for managing your relationship with the company.

It’s up to you to make sure you know the scope of the plan. It’s also important that there is a system in place for reporting back to you on what services have actually been provided. Here are a few things you want to look for from the IT company: 1)  You want proof that backups have been run and tested. 2) You need to know that updates and patching have been done on all systems within the last week. 3) You’ll want proof that firewalls have been properly managed and updated. Ownership of your IT really comes down to determining how much of the responsibility you want to shoulder or share.

What will it take to have the IT service coverage you need and expect?

Hiring in-house IT employees

There is something nice about having your own IT employees onsite and at your beck and call. Need a laptop installed? Ideally, your team can do it immediately. However, in order for your IT department to respond quickly to all your needs, it’s important to have clear communication about their priorities.  IT departments can have project bloat because the team doesn’t know which priorities to tackle first. This means that those anticipated quick response times can easily disappear. Instead, there’s a long queue of jobs to be done, and your key issues are delayed. 

Bottom line: If you’ve ever waited on getting an IT problem solved in your department, it may not be the IT employees but instead the lack of management that is causing the problem. The key to preventing or solving these issues is investing time and money in good management.

One final thing to consider: When it comes to coverage, remember that in-house employees need time off.  They can’t be there 24/7/365. You’ll need to arrange for backup when employees are out sick or on vacation or away training? If you have a back-up plan, this approach may work well for your business

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Hiring an IT company

If you partner with an IT company, you won’t have an IT employee onsite. Chances are good you won’t have a designated IT tech from that company assigned to your business, but  you will have access to a team of experienced technicians and engineers. 

A qualified IT company will map and  document your systems, so they know your network. This means they’ll have a roadmap for your IT to guide any of their team members as they work. They can assign your issue to the tech or engineer with the level of expertise needed to resolve the problem and prevent future issues. In addition, most reputable IT service companies will have a help desk and on-call engineers and techs that provide 24/7/365 support. Make sure that if you go this route, their response and resolution times work for your business.

Who handles and pays for on-going skills training, education, and IT certifications for the technicians and engineers?

Hiring in-house IT employees

Technology is constantly changing. The IT employees you hire need to provide IT service, and they also need to invest time in continuing education and training. In-house techs and engineers will need a certain depth and wide breadth of knowledge to be successful. This requires you to provide training opportunities and hold the employee accountable for this training.

Training and certifications can get expensive. For example, cyber security conferences average three thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars including travel and expenses.  Cyber security training courses average $6000 each and the tests range between $100-$1000. You’ll need to build these expenses into your budget.  

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Hiring an IT company

Any IT company you choose to hire should employ engineers and techs with a wide array of expertise. The advantage is they can work together to solve problems. No one person is required to know it all. Ongoing training should be a part of their company culture and commitment to providing the best service possible. The responsibility falls on the IT company to provide the training their team needs. You’re simply responsible for making sure the company you hire has a knowledgeable team that puts in the hours to keep up with changes in technology. You can make sure they do this by asking about certifications and the number of training hours.

What about cyber-security?

Hiring in-house IT employees

Cyber security is critical. If you’re only relying on your internal IT employees, they must have extensive knowledge of cyber security and keep up with the new security tools and threats out there. You have to invest in the continuous security training of these employees. This really isn’t an option.

Cyber criminals never sleep. IBM and Ponemon Institute report that in 2020, the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million.  Could your business survive even a fraction of that loss? If not, then your IT department must include cyber security experts that can provide persistent threat protection.

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Hiring an IT company

When you hire an IT company, they should include security services in their plans and monitoring of your systems. Their Chief Information Security Officer (also known as a CISO) will take the lead when it comes to security prevention, detection, and response. They should have a team of experts with experience handling security incidents and breaches.

If this IT company is at the top of their game, they will offer managed IT security with persistent threat protection. This is a comprehensive security service with advanced tools and real-time response to cyber security threats. It should be led by a team of security engineers with significant experience in security breach and incident response. No matter what you choose, make cyber security a priority, so you can protect your business and customers.

How much will it cost?

Hiring in-house IT employees

Here’s the bottom line of hiring an IT employee and team: 

Salary: Depending on the market and experience, an IT specialist’s salary can range from 40K-135K. This breaks down to $3.3K -$11K per month. 

If you need more than one employeeyou’ll pay between $6.6K and $22K a month for a two person IT team.  

The salary does not include the following: 

Technical equipment and 3rd Party tools necessary to the job and manage IT internally 

-Hiring costs 

-Annual ongoing training (1-3% of salary) 

-Annual raises 

HR meetings 

Annual reviews 

-Payroll expenses 

FICA/Medicare  

-Retirement plan 

 

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Hiring an IT company

Most IT companies offer annual contracts for service plans that include a defined set of services which typically include a helpdesk for assistance without hourly billing. The fees are paid monthly Sometimes they offer discounts for signing multiple year agreements 

When you research IT companies, you’ll see that the prices vary greatly. It’s important to make sure that a company actually provides all the services they promise in a plan. Make sure there’s a system in place for holding them accountable. Prices will also vary depending on the services provided and the size and needs of your business. This can make shopping for IT services challenging.

What can you expect? A small business with 10 employees might pay $1300-$2300 per month depending upon the complexity of their IT needs. A business with 50 employees might pay between $5500 – $8500. Click here for a link to a pricing survey for a custom estimate. 

All the expenses you might incur for in-house IT are shouldered by the IT company. 

How will you align your business and IT strategy with your business goals?

Hiring in-house IT employees

The last question to ask as you consider whether you want to hire your own IT department or work with an IT company is this: How will you align your business and IT strategy with your business goals, and, who will help you do this?

Every business must evaluate their use of technology as they look to the future. How will you determine what technology you will need in the future to stay ahead of your competition? What’s the best technology you can use to reach your business goals? These are questions best answered by senior level technology and business experts. Unless the IT specialists you hire also have significant experience with both technology and business management, it will be up to you to answer these questions and determine what technology will move your business forward.

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Hiring an IT company

Most IT service companies don’t offer executive level consulting with a Chief Technology Officer, CISO, and Chief Information Officer. However, if you’re serious about making technology a key to your success, then you’ll want to do your research and find one that does. Look for an IT provider with a team that has senior level experience and offers consulting—one that can help you proactively plan for your business growth and future technology needs.  

No matter what you decide to do, this is an important decision for your business. If you’re seriously considering hiring in-house IT employees, take the time to address these questions with your leadership team. If you decide to hire an IT company, do your research, and make sure you’re getting the service you need to reach your business goals and be secure.

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