IT professionals provide an essential service to your company, but maintaining a dedicated IT team in-house is expensive and sometimes won’t cover all of your needs. Enter IT service companies: contract IT experts who build, maintain, update, and service your software, hardware, and systems.
“IT as a service”(ITaaS) is defined by Wikipedia as an operational model where the IT service provider delivers an information technology service to a business. At its core, ITaaS is a competitive business model where businesses have many options for IT services and the internal IT organization has to compete against those other external options in order to be the selected.
In simpler terms, ITaaS means hiring contract services to handle any software, hardware, or network issues your company has. Whether you contract with an outside organization or use the ITaaS model to organize your internal IT department depends on your resources and needs.
Why You Should Outsource IT
Companies of all sizes will, at some point, consider ITaaS companies — when their current software, hardware, data storage, or networking needs grow beyond the skills or scheduling resources of their own staff. Think about hiring an IT service company if you run into any of the following issues:
Keeping an in-house IT department can be expensive. IT professionals expect to be paid for their knowledge and expertise (rightfully) and turnover in these positions is historically high. To grow their company’s technical scope and business reach, many SMBs look to outsource IT, saving money in the long term that they would otherwise spend maintaining an internal IT team.
2. Lack of Employee Resources
Most IT service companies provide bundled software and hardware at a lower price than many SMBs can afford. The best part about these bundled services is that they include support and maintenance. Your team can continue running the business instead of parsing server logs and getting 2 a.m. calls about system outages. Small businesses running on tight budgets can re-invest in core business, rather than damage control.
Employees are the most expensive part of running a business, but managing your technology assets takes a close second. The time and effort required to track and maintain your devices can be a full-time job, but many ITaaS companies provide device upkeep services that will keep your employees running for a flat, monthly fee.
3. Security Concerns
As companies expand and bring on more customers and partners, overlooked security can become a huge liability. While you could train your staff to learn to implement highly secure data environments, IT service companies specialize in security. Whether it’s on-premise or in the cloud, ITaaS can bring your company ready-made or custom ordered security to keep your customer and employee data safe.
What to Look for in an IT Service
IT service companies come in many shapes and sizes and specialize in many different parts of the IT spectrum. Regardless of your specific service needs, there are several factors that are important to look for in any outsourced IT relationship:
Pricing Catalogs and Transparency
This seems obvious, but it’s easy to pass over for that exact reason. Make sure you fully understand the provider’s pricing structure. Research implementation fees, pricing for extra integrations, and pricing for hardware service plans. What about service calls? 24/7 help desk support? Depending on the size and complexity of your software stack and device catalog, you may want to sign up for subscription services instead of tacking on fees every time there’s a problem. Think of IT services like insurance for your technology.
Customer Service Record
Remember, IT service providers act as a service company. It’s not only important to research the ways the company will interact with your technology, but how they treat you as a customer. Read reviews and ask for references. An IT company will have access to your company’s most sensitive data, including employee and customer records. Ask for their security plans, how they’ve dealt with breaches in the past, and what their future upgrade and training recommendations include.
Internal IT Service
Another option many companies have tried in recent years is turning their internal IT departments to wings of their existing company structure. While the IT team is still technically part of the organization, they have greater control over the direction and scheduling of IT services around the building.
In addition to giving the IT department — the technical experts in your building — agency over their services, you also keep your IT services on-site. When the IT department controls their own funding, scheduling, and resources, they are less likely to be distracted (or impeded) by the whims of the larger corporation.