Small Businesses: Should You Run Your Own Networks or Use a Third-Party?

Introduction

How small businesses choose to manage their information technology can be the key to surviving and even thriving in an increasingly competitive business climate. Read this article, to learn more about how to best manage your IT needs.

There are generally three options available. Do it all on in-house networks, resource it all to a third party IT specialist or devise some hybrid of both. Different factors for different kinds of companies pretty much dictate which is best for a company.

Determining Factors

The nature of the company, the size of the small company and the information technology needed for that business to perform its functions all go into determining which option works best.

For instance, if the company is a company with lots of moving parts heavily reliant upon IT to function, third party sourcing is the best solution. If a company has a small, already over-worked staff, outsourcing also makes more sense.

Company operating budgets also play a major role in how to most efficiently address its IT functions. Ideally, a third party supplier with complete functionality is the ultimate answer.

However, many companies simply cannot afford the expense such impressive IT would incur.

Leadership personality also plays a role. Some managers are perfectly comfortable outsourcing all IT function. Other more hands-on managers want to have a more direct approach and control in this area.

Still, other managers are acutely aware of just how valuable company time is. They tend to outsource anything that is not an intrinsic part of the actual doing of the business tasks at hand.

Company privacy is another factor in IT decision. Many company owners are wary of data susceptibility for exposure.

They worry that security is not what they require to be completely comfortable with a third party in control of sensitive company information.

Major Advantage of In-house Network

The company gets to directly hire the IT staff that most specifically fits its overall mission. Hiring IT professionals who best match company-centered focus and direction makes them a more closely-aligned partner.

They feel a sense of belonging, and they adopt company team mentality. This same team perception builds in ownership. They own the IT function responsibility for that company.

In-house IT staff also develops direct, personal, detail knowledge of the product or service the company presents to the public. This level of product knowledge makes them more focused and mission-specific.

Accessibility is another advantage of in-house IT staff. They are readily available to answer any questions which may arise concerning their area of expertise.

They also provide immediate consultation access. They can readily discern how to best integrate, match and partner their efforts into the overarching team approach.

Another advantage is the saved correspondence time. Sometimes, what a manager needs to know is too long to fully express in a text or email.

Waiting for returned phone calls on time-sensitive issues can wreck a schedule. Often, changes need to be made promptly. If your IT staff is in-house, communication is as quick as the intercom or a trip down the hall.

Major Shortfall of In-house Network

One of the biggest shortfalls of having an in-house IT staff is limited knowledge. While singular dedication has its many pluses, it is limiting to a degree.

In a dynamic environment, where things stay the same for about five minutes, keeping pace with constant changes can be challenging.

Projects and situations which need additional or advanced knowledge may present problems for a singularly-dedicated staff. Time consumed learning and adjusting to resolve such learning curves can be costly.

For instance, one of the most challenging IT issues right now is learning and navigating the mobility wave. It is sweeping the business world.

Companies IT staffs must stay ahead of this ever-changing and game-altering trend. Those who do are the companies best positioned for strong future performance.

What is that old weight room mantra for all athletes? If you are not growing, you are shrinking. If you are shrinking, you are losing.

The same goes for businesses. Right now, the biggest potential for exponential company growth is mobility through mobile apps. Heard of beacon finding yet?

Advantages of Third Party Network

The most outstanding advantage of third-party IT staffs is that they bring experience-variety. These teams have experience with multiple types of more complex IT projects.

They are required to be versatile since they must work on different kinds of projects as a normal part of their work schedules

As a result, they become more versatile with the ins-and-outs of similar projects and develop a wider range of skills. While in-house IT staff skills are specific to the company, third-party resources have a more generalized skill set.

Another big plus for third-party IT is that it frees up the regular company staff to focus primarily on the work at hand. Many companies are designed to run on slim staffs. In these companies, each member must be occupied with the company’s central focus.

Hiring IT specialists and dedicating that much manpower and financial resources to a single function is just not economically feasible for such companies. It is a matter of the best management practices and smartest use of available employees.

One last consideration in favor of outsourcing IT is that you are getting real expertise in the field. IT is all these suppliers do.

It is their lone specialty, and they have to be good at it to survive. They may be more adept at solving unusual dilemmas which are inherent with more complex projects.

Shortfalls of Third Party Network

The most glaring shortfall of third-party IT is that they are not thoroughly familiar with what the company does. They are not permanent members of the usual staff.

More than likely, they may need some coaching on the intricacies a company’s inner workings. After all, if one of the IT functions is to get the company message out there, they need to fully know and understand that message.

A final caveat about outsourcing company IT is personality. While this is not a major concern, personality conflicts do develop. Some within the company may erroneously regard them as interlopers who serve no great function.

This can cause tension and friction and ultimately frustrate IT effectiveness. Conflicts within companies are viewed much differently than what many consider outside interference by the ‘experts’.

Conclusion

The reasons for outsourcing IT staffs are much stronger than having a dedicated, internal staff. Outsourcing permits a more concerted effort toward the central business goal. Utilizing IT on an as-needed basis is a much wiser use of limited company resources. The money you save through third-party IT just may be the margin for financial survival or not.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who teaches women entrepreneurs how to monetize their message so they can make more money from their expertise. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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