If you run a small business, you likely know that you have a set number of expenses each month that your business needs to stay in operation. These expenses may include rent (for physical businesses), accounting and bookkeeping services, software, taxes, marketing and especially information technology services. A lot of small businesses don’t have the budget to hire an in-house IT specialist to manage computers, networks, phone systems and email. For this reason, a lot of small businesses turn to IT contractors and managed service providers.
If you choose to outsource your IT, here are a few things to consider.
Outsourcing IT Needs
Choosing to outsource IT to a managed services provider will allow your business to grow while limiting IT expenses to a contracted employee rather than an in-house worker. You’ll need support for your computers, phone systems, email and other technology needs, but you likely don’t need to staff a full-time employee for these items. Instead, you can hire an IT contractor who is available when you need them. Most IT contractors work with small businesses on an hourly basis and provide a variety of basic services that help a business run smoothly.
For most small businesses, an hourly IT contractor is the best fit and will help keep costs low. However, if you have a larger technology project for your business, it might make sense to have someone on a monthly agreement.
Managed IT Providers
While hourly IT workers address timely computer problems impacting a business, a managed IT provider will be available for larger projects and ongoing services. You’ll also want to work with a managed services provider if you have more than 10 computers in your business, multiple phone systems and staff with recurring IT needs. Managed IT services will cost your business more upfront, but less in the long run compared to an hourly provider or full-time employee.
PC vs. Mac for Small Businesses
Does your business use PC computers or Apple computers? Whether you choose to hire an hourly IT worker or a company on a monthly agreement, you can expect they will most likely work with PC computers as that is a common element of most IT professionals. For this reason and if your business is primarly using Apple computers, you will want to consider an IT provider who specializes in Apple repairs. Apple products like Macbooks, iMacs and Mac Pros require a different level of technical service and specialization. Tech repair companies will have more expertise compared to a traditional IT provider. Be sure to consider this as you are working on your business’s IT.
What to Avoid
Now that we have covered the differences in hourly vs. managed IT support and PC vs. Mac IT support, the last thing to consider is what to avoid. Above all, avoid outsourcing your IT needs to a provider in a nother country. It’s okay to have remote support from someone occasionally, but what happens if your network breaks or your phone system goes down? You’ll need someone to visit the business in person to diagnose the issue. Additionally, it’s important to remember that IT needs for US businesses are vastly different compared to businesses outside of the US. While it may save you money upfront, you’ll likely run into issues down the road.
Hopefully this helps you understand the differences in IT providers and allows you to make the best choice for your business.