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MSP or “IT Guy”…Which Is A Better Choice For SMB?

Most businesses succeed in understanding the importance of IT in our ever more interconnected world. Many would agree this is a “no-brainer”—computers touch most portions of most businesses in some way. However, taking a slightly deeper look reveals more difficult questions for a business’s decision-maker(s). Who maintains this technology? How should we budget for IT solutions? How can IT make my employees and current business structure more productive? What future IT decisions should I be considering?

(Quick aside: while I will use the general term “IT Guy” in the blog title and throughout the article, I do so mainly as a tongue-in-cheek pejorative for a general IT worker, mainly as something of an inside joke to my engineer teammates. I in no way want to discount anyone or imply IT should be gender restricted in any way. I fully support and encourage gender diversity in the field of IT and I enjoy seeing more and more women joining a field formerly dominated by males!)

As a business owner or decision-maker contemplates the aforementioned questions, unless he or she is an expert in the field and has time to take on IT tasks (which is generally *not* a great idea—but another blog post for another time!), most often the realization that additional help is needed is not far away. However, should this help be internal or external?

Pros of internal IT Positions

Having someone on-site and responsible for IT can be a great approach for some. While often more amenable to a larger enterprise or organization due to the cost, a full time employee has an easier time integrating with the rest of the team and ingratiating their services to other staff members. This closeness naturally leads to a more positive interaction and increased understanding.

Internal IT personnel with proper workloads are able to respond in very timely manner and should be intimately familiar with the IT architecture of a business, allowing quick and relatively painless diagnoses and corrections of arising issues.

Cons of Internal IT Positions

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news all the time to hire IT help via internal staff. A full-time “IT Guy” can be expensive, as mentioned, especially if he or she is experienced in the field—certainly a desirable trait. After all, we are talking about an additional full-time salary. For many small- and medium-sized businesses, this is a big ask. Financials aside, it is very difficult to balance the size of a company with the proper workload for one individual (or even a small team). A see-saw effect of too much work for one/not enough work for many often occurs. An overworked IT person easily falls behind on tasks, sometimes leading to outages or security lapses. As most business owners are aware, the idea of an office being out of commission is a very frightening and expensive proposition.

 

Cons of hiring an MSP

As an MSP marketing person, I would love to tell you that there are NO DISADVANTAGES!!! to hiring a Managed Services Provider, but that wouldn’t be completely true. For example, an internal IT person is likely to be more intimately familiar with the specific “ins and outs” of a company’s IT architecture. We generally mitigate this by standardizing setups as uniformly as possible so that our engineers immediately know where to look and how to diagnose specific issues.

It also is impossible to recreate the closeness that an internal IT person will have with a staff. We work hard to maintain a great relationship with all of our customers, and value those relationships, but there is no true replacement to working with a person or team day in and day out. With that said, we dedicate a great portion of our efforts to act as a trusted advisor to our client, and we strive to be a trusted voice and team member, even if a different person signs our paychecks.

 

Pros of hiring a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

A Managed IT Services Provider offers many advantages to small- and medium-sized companies. Even large businesses that have less trouble hiring additional employees may find augmented IT help (often called a co-management) is valuable and increases efficiency.

There are several reasons for this. MSPs running at a sufficient maturity level will maintain contracts that make IT budgeting relatively easy. Contracts will scale with a business’s size, so a growing 10 person office will have a contract in similar ratio to when that company is 50 seat office. However, during the transition, a properly managed MSP would not be overworked or unable to see to tasks until too late, as the MSP would simply allocate resources to the needs on the end user. (This contrasts, of course, to a vicious cycle of overworking one IT person, then likely underworking two IT people, then overworking two people, etc., that the company would run into hiring internally.)

Additionally, MSPs offer a team of experts for the purposes of consulting, network and server architecture, general maintenance tasks, hardware and software integrations, security, and hardware purchases (among many other areas). The synergy of expertise available is very difficult to emulate in a single person—and if it were, that person would likely (and rightly) demand a large compensation package.

MSPs are able to incorporate large scale solutions for items such as managing and monitoring machines that may be unavailable to a smaller scale due to cost of the software. This keeps end users on the forward edge of trends and security, which is a vital key to cybersecurity success.

Some advantages have little to do with technical expertise but rather are much more practical in nature. An MSP does not take a sick day, and is rarely more than a phone call away when something goes wrong. Many MSPs offer response after hours and will never unavailable because they are on a run, enjoying family time, or sleeping. At Certified, for example, at all times a person is responsible for answering the call no matter the hour, whether it’s a holiday, etc.

 

TLDR: MSPs provide a value of service to businesses of all sizes that cannot be reached with a single IT person.

If you feel like managed services are right for you, or even if you only would like a 15 minute discovery call to find out, CONTACT US and let’s talk!

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