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On-call: The advantages of managed outsourced IT services for businesses

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

UK business operations have been dramatically slowed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses are struggling to survive the fallout of the economic shutdown, with many more high-street retailers facing closures.

As businesses begin to find their feet in the ’new normal’, success during this period may depend heavily on streamlining spending habits and budgeting. With businesses turning their attention to IT investment as a key priority, the benefits of outsourcing managed IT services cannot be overlooked.

Scale it up

It’s well known that outsourcing provides businesses with increased flexibility. It allows them to tackle tasks as and when needed, with scaled resources.

When it comes to IT services, this is particularly important. Typically, in-house IT teams are either inundated with work or navigating a period of downtime, waiting for an influx of new projects.

Given the inconsistent nature of IT demand, the ability to scale services and costs at any given time revolutionizes budgeting and time management.

It’s especially a game-changer for small businesses, which are able to access the skills needed to manage larger projects, giving them the knowledge and resources needed to take on their larger competitors.

The temptation can often be to invest in expansion early on, to match the capacity of larger competitors, but this can leave SMEs in a perilous position when demand slows and they’re left covering the costs for a large team.

Considering the traditional peaks and troughs of IT demand, harnessing the power of outsourcing can help SMEs take the first steps in capturing their share of the market, without over-committing themselves financially when finding their feet.

Instead of relying on an internal IT manager to work through high-volume projects and experiencing downtime while they manage their workload, businesses can outsource the work to a team of IT specialists who provide a more efficient turnaround.

Cost-effective

Plus, as outsourcing saves money in almost every area of production, compared with an in-house team, many businesses are able to slice costs for the consumer as a result – giving them the edge when it comes to pricing out competitors.

While employing a dedicated in-house IT team has its benefits – mainly in instant and reliable responses to issues – it can be costly.

To access the full spectrum of skills needed to fix any IT problems that arise and enable digital transformation, businesses must invest significant resources. It simply isn’t financially viable for many SMEs.

However, outsourcing services as and when projects arise means you’re only ever paying for what you need.

The reality is, employees are expensive. They require a salary, benefits, training budgets, onboarding resources and other significant overheads. For small businesses, it’s not always feasible to employ dedicated specialists for every need.

This is also why outsourcing is an increasingly attractive option. By outsourcing, you avoid the costs of managing employees, while gaining access to a market of qualified professionals, only paying on an ad-hoc basis.

For small businesses, outsourcing frees up capital day-to-day, to invest in business growth, marketing and more. This available cash flow is also an attractive proposition for potential investors.

Long-term strategy

There’s a common misconception of outsourcing as simply a short-term fix – patching bugs or repairing systems. However, it has the potential to be a cost-effective and efficient way of planning and implementing an IT strategy.

The outsourcing market is growing rapidly, with more businesses recognizing the value of working with contractors to deliver long- and short-term projects. In fact, up to a third of small to medium-sized businesses now actively outsource work.

However, the way businesses are working with third parties is evolving. It’s no longer a quick fix. Businesses are realizing the potential in forming long-lasting relationships and working with external companies to build out their whole IT infrastructure.

SMEs can outsource long-term and forward-thinking tasks like IT systems audits and IT roadmapping to specialists with a track record of delivering similar projects.

Forming these relationships means contractors get to know the business inside-out and act as an extension to the team, giving SMEs access to the talent of a larger business while maintaining the culture and intimacy of a smaller firm.

Tasks like strategizing, budgeting and project management can also be outsourced, helping SMEs build on their success and facilitate growth. All without the costs associated with hiring a dedicated IT Director.

Productivity

Productivity is integral to a successful business. It allows you to meet demand, plan for growth and deliver consistent results. However, it’s only possible in an environment where company projects and employee roles are clearly defined.

One of the main benefits of outsourcing is allowing businesses to tap into a wider resource pool when needed, to make sure they’re able to meet changing demands.

When complex or unexpected challenges arise, businesses can rely on the additional skill sets and capacities of an external company, allowing their internal IT team to focus on delivering day-to-day duties.

Outsourcing IT projects allows businesses to allocate the relevant resources required for each task. So, if they need to undertake a migration or transformation project that requires more significant time and dedication than usual and outgrows their internal team, they have access to additional staffing.

Ultimately, this minimizes potential downtime that can arise from skills gaps or unexpected challenges – keeping clients and employers happy, while also creating a rewarding working culture in which employees aren’t overworked or exposed to unmanageable demand or stress.

Security and compliance are significant concerns within the IT sector, with changing regulations draining resources. IT managers are spending more time than ever on compliance admin tasks, with progressive business tasks falling by the wayside.

Specialist IT providers make light work of cybersecurity and compliance tasks. Not only does this give business owners the peace of mind of knowing their reputation is in the hands of experts but it also frees up internal IT teams to focus on their main responsibilities, like keeping employees’ online environments running smoothly.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of existing employees learning from outsourced talent. Working closely with those with different skill sets may help employees pick up skills and strategies they can replicate and refine going forward.

Vikki Durden, Head of Operations, UK IT Service