WOOF! Newsletter

September 07, 2017

In-House IT Staff, or IT Consultants: Which Support Option Works Best?

Depending on the growth stage of your business, using IT consultants may save you money and give better support. Let's look at both support options.

There are times when it pays to have full-time IT staff available.  However, with widespread adoption of the cloud, heightened cybersecurity threats, and rapidly changing technology, those times are fading away.

Working with IT Consultants now gives businesses a flexible, less costly support option.  Let’s examine the pros & cons.

Pros of IT Staff

  • Dedication:  Full-time staff are committed to your IT environment, and are onsite & at your disposal each day.
  • Familiarity:  Staff members know their role, your company culture, and how they fit into the overall IT picture.
  • Specific IT Skill Set:  Your IT staff works within a single IT infrastructure. The more they work, the more efficient they become at maintaining that infrastructure.

Cons of IT Staff

  • High costs:  Salary, payroll taxes, benefits (insurance, vacation, sick time, 401K, unemployment), training, etc.
  • Stagnation:  In a single environment, IT staff learns to support your solutions but may not stay current with changing technologies. 
  • Augmentation Needed:  Outside consultants are typically needed to implement new technologies.
  • Talent Mismatch:  Without the help of a technical recruiter or IT pro, it’s easy to hire someone whose tech experience isn’t suited to your environment, or who has overstated their experience level. 
  • Under-Utilization:  In-house support staff is typically underutilized.  Tasks, which take consultants 15 minutes, may drag on for hours.   Once an IT environment has matured, the maintenance and routine tasks are quick to perform.

Pros of IT Consultants

  • Reduced Staffing Costs:  You can support 50 users 24/7 for 50% less than the cost of one full-time systems engineer.
  • Expanded Knowledge Base:  IT consultants work in a variety of IT environments each week with both old and new technologies.  They typically receive formal training and certifications in their firm’s core competencies as well.  You benefit from their wide range of training and experience, not to mention access to their company’s entire tech team on an on-call basis. 

    It’s like having an enterprise IT Department at your disposal. You choose from specialists in cloud services, cybersecurity, SOX, HIPAA, ITAR, eDiscovery, Microsoft implementations/upgrades, network video surveillance, ransomware, mobile device management, disaster recovery, network design and configuration, and so forth.
  • Vendor Relationships:  Most IT Consultants have established relationships with top IT hardware/software vendors, product manufacturers, and equipment leasing companies, saving you time on sourcing and servicing hardware/software.
  • Things Get Done:  Unlike employees, IT consultants only get paid when they work.  (No offense.)
  • No hiring process, performance evaluations, ongoing training, disciplinary actions, etc.

Cons of IT Consultants

  • Prioritization:  An IT Consultant may not prioritize your project above another client’s.
  • Availability:  A good IT consultant will make themselves available at the days & times you need them.  Not all IT consultants are good consultants, though.
  • Quality:  Just like the quality of employees varies, so does the quality of IT consultants.

Can You Do Both? Yes!

You don’t have to choose one over the other. You can use both.

For instance, you retain a desktop support tech for day-to-day issues (resetting passwords, trouble accessing email, Internet troubleshooting, escalating issues). Then you outsource more complex issues and rollouts to IT consultants.

Alternatively, hire an IT Director to manage the consultant team. You’ll gain a lower cost of IT ownership, and still get faster response times for the end user.

Consultants Make Sense, More Often Than Not

In most cases, working with IT consultants means you come out ahead on costs, skills, and long-term support.

One final note:  Hire consultants who know how to work with in-house IT staff.  Even if you don’t have any yet.  A good consultant is a long-term partner; they will help in-house staff no matter “who was there first.”

What was the last project an IT Consultant worked on for you?  Email us at woof@planetmagpie.com and tell us what you think.