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Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT Support

As a Managed Service Provider (also known as MSP), one of the first questions we are asked when we sit down for the first time with a potentially new customer is, “Why should we hire a Managed Service Provide over an In-house IT Support person or persons?”. Whether the business is looking to hire IT Support for the first time or already has an In-house IT department, this is a valid question for any sized business to ask when trying to determine what the best solution is for their IT needs.

While most Managed Service Providers will say there is a laundry list of reasons why to hire them over an In-house Support person, we like to keep it simple and break it down into three key points; Cost, Knowledge, and Tools.

Cost

In most of our discussions, cost is at the top of a business owner’s list when looking for quality IT Support…and it should be. Most MSPs can provide all the technical support that an In-house IT person can provide for a fraction of the cost. Think of it this way; if you hire an In-house IT Support person, on average, you will pay them between $65K-$90K per year based on their experience and certifications. On top of their wages, you also have to cover paid time off, medical insurance, retirement options such as a 401K, and don’t forget about overtime pay and workman’s comp and unemployment insurance. You also have to designate space for your In-house support as well as the IT Equipment which can be expensive. With an MSP, you are typically charged a reasonable flat monthly rate or an hourly rate based on the level of support needed. You don’t have to pay an MSP for paid time off, medical insurance, retirement options, expensive equipment, etc. In other words, you have no overhead cost associated with hiring an MSP.

Knowledge

Knowledge is key when working with technology. In some businesses, internal IT Departments consist of technicians that are specialized in certain areas of technology which means a business may have to hire multiple specialized technicians to cover all their IT needs. While MSP technicians may have specialized backgrounds, they are typically trained on a broader range of technical issues because their customer base requires them to be. MSP technicians have to be well rounded and trained in almost every aspect of the technology world so they can assist with any technical issue that may come up.

Tools

Quality IT equipment and monitoring devices can be costly and take up valuable office space and network space. These tools are an investment that an MSP uses to maintain their customers’ systems and hardware. An MSP will use a range of tools such as antivirus applications, disaster recover systems, and other preventative applications to monitor and implement corrective measure when needed. Through their tools, an MSP is alerted and can have a problem fixed before a customer even knows a problem exists. Having these types of tools in place also allows some MSPs the ability to offer a 24/7 helpdesk as part of their services for their customers. This is crucial when someone’s computer goes down after normal business hours or a system critical issue happens and no-one is at the office to report it.

Shop around when weighing your options. Not all MSPs operate the same. Some MSPs are large enough to employ a call center sized support team while others keep their staff small to provide more of a “personal touch” when assisting their customers. For businesses that have programs designed specifically for their line of work, such as sales programs or reservation systems, a mix of MSP and In-house IT Support may be more cost effective. They can choose to keep their In-house support to maintain their specialized programs and contract out their daily IT Support to an MSP. Be sure to choose the MSP that fits your IT Support needs and business environment. The right MSP should feel like an extension of your business.

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