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In-house or Outsource? Who Should Manage Your Startup's IT?

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by Startacus Admin

IT tech startup
It might not be your startup’s primary focus – but IT has the potential to make or break your new business. Without it, you probably won’t even begin to get off the ground – but even once you’re flying, it’ll only take a couple of wrong steps to bring the whole show crashing down.

Be under no illusions, the stakes are high when it comes to IT – so making the right choices are how it’s managed are absolutely vital. Deciding whether you’re going to keep your IT support in-house – or passing it to a managed service provider – is going to make a big difference to how life looks for the next few years. 

Of course, there are pros and cons with each choice – so, we’ll look at what some of those things are here – and help you decide which route is the right one for you and your business.

What is IT to you?

IT isn’t one fixed concept. For some startups, IT is simply the tech infrastructure needed to connect devices and access the internet; for others, it’ll be more than this – and will probably include centralised applications, disaster recovery and more. For some, IT might include all of the above, and finding a team that’ll help you develop your own IT tech startup software, applications and more.

Wherever your IT requirements fall, there’s one thing for certain, you’re probably not an IT company – which can make the whole thing trickier still. While finding the right staff for your own operations comes with some challenges, finding staff for an area of work that is outside your area of expertise can be very difficult indeed.

Building an in-house team

Having a great in-house IT team comes with an enormous set of benefits. Primarily, you’ve got expertise that’s on hand whenever you need it. That said, it’s expertise that comes with a significant price tag – and that price begins long before you pay any wages. 

Recruiting an IT team is likely to be expensive. Recruitment is estimated to cost a company around £30,000/$38,000 for just one position, so you can multiply that if you need more people. When you’ve got a team on board, you’ll find that they need training – as well as needing a series of professional accreditations that make them suitable for working on the kit that makes up your IT backbone. What’s more, you’ll need to make sure that their expertise doesn’t stop developing when you recruit them – which often means more time out of your business staying on top of their industry game.

Some in-house problems 

Aside from the cost involved with an in-house team, you’re going to find that they come with a series of problems that aren’t really problems – until they collide with your IT infrastructure. For instance, all staff should be able to take vacations, have weekends off when work allows, take time off to recover if they’re sick, and so forth…

in-house ITThe trouble is, IT doesn’t take time off. You need your systems to be up and running around the clock – and that can make working with an in-house team difficult. Do you throw money at the problem and make sure you always have cover? Where does that money come from? Would that money be better spent driving the business forward? And what happens when money doesn’t solve the problem? What happens when professionals move on to new companies? 

There are a lot of what-ifs that go hand-in-hand with an in-house team. When IT forms such an important part of your business, what-ifs can turn into serious headaches. 

Why do people outsource?

With so many what-ifs floating around, it’s probably no surprise to find that people outsource to side-step these problems. But what does an external IT team do that an in-house team can’t?

Well, there’s the sheer weight of the team to begin with. Unless you’re planning on immediately taking on 6-8 IT professionals, you’re probably not going to be able to cover every minute through a week of work. However, a managed service provider (MSP) – supporting a number of businesses – can spread this staffing cost across a range of contracts, so you get the benefits of a broad team, but without any of the cost.

It’s not just people-power that MSPs provide though. The chances are, they’re all already accredited to work on your systems, so you’re also side-stepping a tremendous amount of cost when you work alongside a good MSP. There’s the issue of best practice and industry knowledge too, while an in-house team can become stagnant, working just on your systems, an MSP is going to be hands-on with a number of systems, facing a number of problems, so you can bet that if they run into problems with your systems, a solution isn’t going to be far behind.

Are there any outsourcing problems? 

There’s no IT support model that isn’t without problems and working with an MSP comes with downsides – for instance, you’re working with a team that isn’t likely to be on IT outsourced or in houseyour site – so differences in working culture can sometimes occur. Also, an MSP might not understand the implications surrounding the problems that you’re working to avoid – so investment in your business might not be as great as it could be with an in-house team.

In reality, these tend to be things that can be addressed with good communication – and often, these are issues that are far outweighed by the pros involved with an MSP working relationship. Still, it’s important to make sure you’re working with people who understand you and your business – part of the reason it’s good to match yourself with an MSP of similar size – and one that works with companies in similar industries.

What’s right for you?

There’s no prescriptive way of looking at IT support and immediately falling on a solution that’s perfect for you. Ultimately, your business has a unique set of requirements, and only you can decide if an in-house or external IT team is going to be right for you. If in doubt, talk to managed service providers about the service they can offer – and do some number-crunching. In-house teams do not come cheap – and when you’ve got a startup to grow, you might want to think about whether that money could be better spent pushing your core business forward at maximum speed…


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Published on: 29th May 2019

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