Having robust and reliable IT infrastructure is critical for any modern business.
However, determining the best approach to manage a company’s technology support – keeping it in-house with employed IT staff versus outsourcing it to a managed services provider – is an important strategic decision.
What are the key differences between these models and what should factor into choosing between them?
If you are currently weighing up the options for your business, we’re here to help.
In this guide, we’ll compare in-house vs. outsourced IT support.
Defining In-House And Outsourced IT Support
In-house IT support refers to a company employing its own dedicated IT department responsible for handling all technology needs.
This consists of IT professionals like help desk technicians, systems administrators, analysts, developers, and cybersecurity experts who work on-site at the company’s offices.
Outsourced IT support involves partnering with a third-party managed service provider (MSP) to manage, monitor, maintain and support a company’s IT environment rather than relying entirely on in-house staff.
MSPs offer 24/7 remote monitoring, help desk services, maintenance, security, system upgrades and other IT support capabilities.
What Is The Difference Between In-house And Outsourced IT Support?
There are several key differences between keeping IT functions in-house versus outsourcing them. These include:
- Control – In-house IT staff report directly into company leadership, enabling close oversight and direction of IT strategy and operations. Outsourced IT involves giving up some control to external providers.
- Expertise – MSPs provide access to more diverse IT skills and experience that is challenging to maintain internally. In-house teams eventually hit proficiency ceilings.
- Availability – Outsourced providers offer around-the-clock IT support and monitoring versus more limited in-house staff availability.
- Scalability – Managed IT services can readily scale up or down as needed to match changing business requirements. Scaling in-house requires hiring/layoffs.
- Cost Structure – Outsourced IT shifts from capital to operating costs in the form of monthly service fees. In-house adds variable staffing overhead.
- Institutional Knowledge – Long-term in-house staff build invaluable familiarity with systems and processes. Outsourcing can result in lost human IT knowledge.
Pros And Cons Of In-house Vs Outsourced Business IT Support
There are various benefits a company can enjoy by keeping IT functions in-house, such as:
- Deep knowledge of the business and its systems, needs and challenges.
- Tight strategic alignment between IT activities and overarching business goals.
- Ability to directly oversee and tightly control security, operations, governance and expenditures.
- Having staff solely focused on the organisation versus shared across clients.
- Onsite infrastructure maintenance and troubleshooting response.
- Staff familiarity with organisational culture and policies.
However, the potential downsides or risks of relying entirely on in-house IT include:
- High capital costs of salaries, training, benefits packages and related staffing overhead.
- Difficulty recruiting and retaining IT talent with competitive skillsets.
- Limited support and monitoring coverage outside standard business hours.
- Scaling effectively to meet changing business demand is challenging.
- Smaller pool of specialised expertise compared to large MSPs.
Partnering with a managed service provider offers some key benefits:
- Access to a broad pool of IT talent and specialised expertise larger than feasible in-house.
- 24/7/365 monitoring, maintenance and support.
- Shifts from variable to fixed costs that are predictable month-to-month.
- Limited administrative burden on HR and leadership to manage IT staff.
- Quickly scalable IT resourcing to match evolving business needs.
- Latest infrastructure and security tools and software.
However, there are also some potential downsides of outsourcing IT to consider:
- Less control and visibility into day-to-day operations.
- Risk of misalignment between MSP and company interests/culture.
- Loss of institutional knowledge as technicians change over time.
- Perceived slower response time for on-site fix needs.
- Reliance on internet connectivity for remote IT management.
- Potential costs of transitioning between providers over time.
Key Factors For Choosing Between In-House And Outsourced IT Support
When evaluating whether to keep IT in-house or outsource it, key factors for businesses to weigh include:
- Current business scale and growth outlook – faster growing companies may benefit more from MSP elasticity.
- Information security requirements – MSPs may offer greater cybersecurity expertise and tools.
- Support availability expectations – MSPs provide 24/7 proactive and reactive support.
- Preferences around operational control – companies wanting tight oversight over IT favour in-house staff.
- Number and location of offices/facilities – multi-site firms may need local in-house IT.
- Existing in-house IT skills gaps – lack of key skills favours outsourcing.
- Talent recruitment and retention challenges – difficulty hiring quality techs can tip scales towards MSPs.
- Leadership bandwidth – MSPs shoulder IT support workload so leaders can focus elsewhere.
- Budget status – MSPs offer predictable operating costs versus variable in-house staffing spend.
Our Final Word
Making the optimal decision around IT support models requires carefully weighing the differences, pros and cons, and key factors in relation to your company’s specific needs and strategic priorities.
Assessing both options in-depth leads to making the smarter long-term choice for your business.
In our experience, most businesses benefit from outsourced IT support – if you’d like to talk more about how this option could work for you, get in touch.