Outsourced IT Support Services: Ultimate Guide with Pros & Cons, Use Cases, & Processes
The changes have touched many businesses, including IT support outsourcing. In short, the service involves employing IT vendors to cover the tech side of an organization, which usually results in many perks like cost and time savings, agility, top expertise, etc.
So, how has the market of IT support outsourcing services changed recently? How can you still benefit from IT outsourcing? Answers to these and more questions can be found in this article.
What is Outsourced IT Support?
Outsourced IT support is hiring a remote service provider or managed service provider (MSP) to handle all of your software development processes or IT infrastructure, including software security and disaster recovery, network monitoring, cloud migration, and so on.
By opting into IT support outsourcing, you can benefit from the latest expertise and a worldwide pool of talent. Another convenience is cost saving — when outsourcing, you ditch expenses for training an in-house team.
Today, there are several service types of IT outsourcing:
- Outsourcing software development (web and mobile-based apps)
- Project management
- Outsourced software testing services
- Cloud migration and support
- Security and disaster recovery management
- Ongoing support and software maintenance
- And more…
IT support outsourcing will continue to trend upward in the coming years.
What Services Can IT Support OutsourcingProvide?
IT support outsourcing includes numerous options for a business of any size.
According to a global CIO survey, the main areas where companies involve external partners are cloud operations, cybersecurity, and cloud migration.
Here are some more IT functions you may outsource:
1. Software Development & Support
Many IT outsourcing companies provide custom software solutions from scratch. This involves a full-cycle process starting from business analysis, including tech and biz requirements, project scope, infrastructure, and test planning to create a top application. Alternatively, you can extend your team with programmers or other IT specialists and receive specific expertise.
2. Cloud Management
IT support services help organizations move to the cloud-based on well-known platforms like AWS, Digital Ocean, and Google Cloud without compromising security, time, or finances. In addition, managed cloud services provide migration from bare metal servers, cloud setup and configuration, ongoing monitoring, and security.
3. DevOps Services
An uninterrupted software development cycle is impossible in the event of a system crack-down. So, by outsourcing your DevOps services, you can ensure a reliable backup in a disaster scenario. DevOps helps businesses with the latest software development approaches, methodologies, CI/CD processes, and toolsets.
4. Network & Server Management
One of the biggest tasks of an IT support engineer is maintaining a reliable and secure network. Network outsourcing companies have well-trained staff who know the best network and server management practices.
5. Data Storage
Strong storage practices secure your business’ success.
6. Security & Compliance
When outsourcing IT support, compliance with the latest regulations and security standards is a must-have condition for finance, healthcare, retail systems, etc. Today’s outsourcing companies track the most critical compliance and security regulations, regardless of their location.
Virtualization means creating a virtual copy of a physical machine, computer, network, or server, which allows you to streamline business operations, cut costs on IT infrastructure, and increase productivity. It is possible to virtualize applications, networks, data, storage, memory, and more and operate a few virtual machines (VM) independently on one physical server.
8. Telecommunication & Phone Systems
Hardware supply and telecommunications between customers and employees in-house is another reason to outsource IT.
9. Data Monitoring & Insights
Complete visibility into the company’s processes helps you monitor trends and detect possible vulnerabilities earlier.
10. Real-Time Support
A real-time help desk that is accessible 24/7 is essential for any business’ success. However, having a trained team in-house working around the clock is often too expensive and impossible for small and medium businesses.
In-House vs. Outsourcing IT Support
Having an in-house specialist to handle every request is typical for companies of any size.
However, today’s options are much broader. A company can keep an in-house team, outsource IT support or choose a hybrid form of collaboration.
Here, we compare these options by the cost, benefits, and potential bottlenecks.
1. In-House Support
Cost: In-house IT support pricing depends significantly on the level of expertise of your employees. An average IT-support technician earns $50,000 a year. IT managers make about $80,000 — $130,000 a year.
Pros: Quick response time and the convenience of having an IT person on hand as needed.
Cons: If a team has a single IT support specialist on staff, some vital security or compliance updates may be missed due to the lack of time to follow updates.
2. Outsourced IT Support
Cost: When hiring a vendor or a team via outsourcing, the average hourly rate for IT services will be $40–60, based on the service type and level of the IT engineer. If you sign a contract for a monthly minimum of 40 hours (a typical contract for small businesses), your monthly fee will be $1,600/month, or about $20,000 a year.
Pros: As a customer, you get round-the-clock support and an almost 100% guarantee that a dedicated support specialist will solve your issue. This is because a company offering IT staff augmentation typically trains its hired engineers in different specialties.
Cons: You may experience communication gaps. It is also essential to find a reputable vendor to avoid fraud.
3. Hybrid Support Model
Pros: You may hire a vendor to handle routine tasks and give your in-house team more time for training and keeping up with updates.
Cons: This is an expensive option, especially for small and medium businesses.
Outsourcing IT Support: 6 Key Benefits
Let’s check out what pros you can receive once you decide to outsource your IT activities.
At a minimum, many teams outsource because this can cut your expenses by around 40–60% and become more flexible in operations, making it a great option.
- 1. Cost Efficiency
- 2. Expertise
- 3. Availability
- 4. Added Flexibility
- 5. Improved Business Focus
- 6. Reduced Risks & Improved Cybersecurity
When & How to Outsource Your IT Support?
To outsource IT support properly, a company owner should be aware of technical needs, team requests, and the ability of a third-party vendor to meet both the former and the latter.
Before deciding which solution or option is better for your business, asking questions about the following matters.
- Importance of 24/7 Support Access
- Handling and Storing Sensitive Data
- Define your Budget
- Do you Use Proprietary Software?
- Your Company’s Growth Plans
Outsource IT Support Services: Cost Drivers
Here are several pricing models to consider before you start a contract with your IT support outsourcing vendor:
- Hourly: A provider charges you for the minimum working hours per month. All services exceeding the limit may be set differently.
Blocker: Be sure to discuss the hourly price if your demand exceeds the agreed monthly minimum.
- Flat fees: You agree on an average monthly payment for a pre-discussed list of services.
Blocker: If your server goes down during the night, you will need a specialist on-site, or your team will need support within minutes, but not as scheduled; a company may charge you unexpectedly high fees unless you have covered these scenarios in your contract.
- Per user/per month: This is the best payment format as you can be sure that every one of your employees is covered. This format usually includes technical monitoring, security, drive space, etc.
Blocker: On-site visits may not be included in the contract. Be sure to discuss in advance.
To Sum Things Up: Process of Outsourcing IT Support
As you already understand the benefits of outsourcing IT support services, you might be thinking about when this option is relevant to your case.
To make things simple, if you have some issues with costs, system downtime, trouble with system performance, or perhaps want more flexibility, the time is right to outsource your IT.
1. If you lack IT expertise in-house — opening a new IT department is a costly option, and to save costs you can find capable IT engineers that are remote.
2. Even if you have an in-house team — by outsourcing IT support, you can strengthen your in-house IT department.
3. You want to cut IT expenses — as mentioned previously, you can optimize and remove some IT expenditures by 40–60%.
4. Receive a pool of the best technologies — professional IT outsourcing teams follow the latest stable technologies available on the market.
Finally, here are the main steps to take to ensure that your project will run smoothly and that you will find a suitable IT vendor:
- Clear up your business needs and budget (you can prepare an RFP document)
- List all the possible requirements and questions
- Search for and prepare a list of potential vendors
- Conduct research on your vendors and select the best ones
- Discuss project management and communication processes
- Agree on the payment model and discuss possible extra requests
- Sign clear agreements (e.g., NDA, SLA)
- Your involvement in the support process will still be required, so be ready to step in as needed
Note: This is a summary of a guide.
Check out more details about DevOps services and recommendations on their utilization in the complete article on the MLSDev blog.