With all the other costs of running a company, operating a business IT support team may seem like an unaffordable luxury. But it is (virtually) impossible for any business to operate without some form of IT. In fact, most information-based activities within your organisation will be reliant on computer systems; if something fails, productivity is disrupted – badly.

Keeping systems fully operational and optimised is, therefore, a strategic necessity, ensuring you are able to use your IT to establish and maintain a competitive advantage. Ultimately, it is the strategic use of IT that makes the difference; using your existing infrastructure more efficiently and intelligently, and investing in new systems that will grow your business. A skilled, experienced team is vital to helping define a custom strategy that will help grow and protect your business – and to assist with troubleshooting and resolving issues that may otherwise halt productivity.

The “hobbyist engineer” trap

In some organisations, IT responsibilities are delegated to the person with the most interest in the subject. Alan in accounts has always been interested in computers, so he gets the call when something goes wrong. And in all fairness, Alan does solve most problems – given enough time.

But the trouble is that your IT strategy is limited by Alan’s knowledge and experience; after all, his main duties are accounts-related. This makes it incredibly hard to adopt the latest technologies, or to add functionality to your existing systems because Alan doesn’t fully understand what to do next.

And as your company grows, the IT estate gets larger too. Alan simply cannot keep up with IT demands as well as doing his “real” job properly. Which means that eventually, you need to seriously consider taking on your first business IT support team.

Growing IT complexity requires a broad range of skills

More than simply supporting operations, IT is now helping to drive strategy – particularly for your larger competitors. In order to remain competitive, your own organisation needs to better use data – to make more informed decisions, increase efficiency and reduce overheads.

This will mean enhancing, extending and refining your computer systems, adopting newer technologies as they become available. It will also mean your IT team is on a constant learning curve, mastering new technologies to ensure they are able to support and maintain them. All of which increases the cost of running your own business IT support team.

Achieving a better balance with outsourced IT support

Outsourced IT support services help to solve some of these problems, particularly in terms of guaranteeing access to the skills you need. In the case of Riverbank IT, we provide a dedicated team of named engineers to provide support and advice to our partners.

This works extremely well for clients for several reasons:

On-demand skills

One of the most important benefits of an outsourced IT support team is instant access to the skills you need. Not only do you plug the skills gap, but you don’t have to drag Alan away from his other duties to resolve IT issues any more.

Enhanced support provisions

Alan is only contracted 9 to 5, but the business is increasingly operational around-the-clock. Choosing a third party business IT support team gives you access to help whenever you need it – including the middle of the night when Alan is tucked up in bed.

Reduced waste

Despite needing a broad range of IT skills, they won’t be in demand all the time. With an in-house team, this may mean some of your engineers are underemployed, literally waiting for their next task. Getting the correct balance between headcount and skills is extremely difficult – and expensive when the balance is wrong.

Reduced training costs

Assembling an IT support team is one thing, keeping their skills up-to-date is another. In-house employees will need regular training in order to stay abreast of the latest technologies and to ensure they are able to resolve any issues you encounter. An outsourced IT provider bears these costs as part of their service.

Industry best practice advice

A good outsourced IT support provider will be able to not only resolve problems with your current infrastructure but also to help define future strategy. Using their knowledge and experience, a reliable partner will suggest improvements that will help to increase efficiency, reduce costs and help to grow your business.

Depending on your current provisions and goals for IT, you could choose to outsource all of your IT operations, allowing you to focus on your customers and core operations.

Outsourced IT support and your in-house team

Outsourced IT support can replace your in-house team – but that’s not always the best option. It may be that your business is best served by augmenting the in-house team, to increase support coverage and plug the skills gaps.

Taking a blended approach to business IT support allows your in-house team to focus on strategic projects for instance, while your partner takes over end-user support – or vice versa. And your in-house team will learn new skills and techniques as they work alongside engineers from your outsourced IT support partner. Both parties can co-exist according to whatever is most beneficial for your business.

To learn more about improving your business IT support provisions – and how Riverbank IT can help improve responsiveness, efficiency and productivity – please get in touch.