Internal & External IT Support: When is Combining Resources Best?
As a business leader, you can see the signs that your IT support team needs help. The IT team is overworked, your users are complaining about service, your infrastructure is overwhelmed, and the network response time is slowing to a crawl.
At the same time, your financial resources are limited. Adding staff isn’t an option. You don’t have the money to cover the salary and overhead costs (like training, medical benefits and other hidden expenses).
How can you get the improvements you need without alienating the internal staff that has been working hard and has specific knowledge of your users and infrastructure?
Sometimes a combination of IT resources is the best solution, but how do you know?
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of two kinds of external support: break/fix and managed IT support. We’ll give you an unbiased opinion about times that each could work with your internal staff to achieve a more comprehensive solution.
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important that you know that I work for Kelser Corporation. We provide managed IT support services to a host of organizations. Some of our customers use us to supplement their internal staff, while others rely on us for all of their IT needs.
But, the purpose of this article is not to convince you to work with us. (Odd, no?)
Let me explain. At Kelser, we know that managed IT support isn’t right for every organization, so rather than try to sell our services, we use articles like these to provide straightforward information that business leaders like you need to make the IT decisions that are best for their organization.
Honestly, it doesn’t do you (or us) any good to convince you to work with us unless we are the right fit. So, in this article we’ll provide an unbiased look at when it makes sense to combine internal and external IT resources.
Internal & External Resources: What’s The Difference?
This may seem unnecessary, but just to be sure we are all coming to this topic with the same understanding, let’s quickly define the difference between internal and external resources.
Internal resources are staff members that work as employees of your organization.
External resources are people who are employees of other organizations. They may work on-site at your facility, but they are not employees of your business. In IT, these resources could work for a break/fix or managed IT support provider.
What Kinds Of External IT Resources Are Available?
There are two basic kinds of external IT providers: break/fix and managed.
Honestly? Both offer advantages and disadvantages and either can provide a solid solution in different circumstances. Check out this article for a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of break/fix and managed IT support.
Either type of supplier can provide your organization with a solid support option.
In short, break/fix providers are pay-as-you go organizations that come to fix things when they break and bill you for the service.
How Can Break/Fix Work With Your Internal IT Team?
If you have some internal IT resources that can focus on your strategic business technology needs, relevant cybersecurity solutions and systemwide maintenance and upgrades, maybe you could use a break/fix provider to respond to the simple (but time-intensive) daily fixes of your users.
For example, maybe you use a break/fix provider as your “IT service” organization, freeing up your internal staff to focus on more strategic network needs.
Or, maybe you contract with a break/fix provider to supply a specific person who will work at your facility. This is known as staff augmentation. The break/fix employee works alongside your staff to handle repair issues that arise.
When Might Break/Fix Not Work With Your Internal IT Team?
If your internal IT team is entirely focused on providing daily support for your users, a break/fix provider would not add value (other than increasing your capacity for providing additional similar services to your users).
If you are looking for an external partner to handle the care and feeding of your entire network as well as provide advice about long-term technology strategy, a break/fix provider is not a good solution.
If you need help with regulatory or compliance issues, a break/fix provider will not have the answers and solutions you need. In this case, it’s best to partner with a managed IT support provider.
Managed IT support is an ongoing, strategic approach in which customers pay the same monthly fee for a comprehensive suite of proactive services (similar to a utility bill). For more information, read this article: What Is Managed IT? What’s Included? What Does It Cost?
How Can Managed IT Support Work With Your Internal Team?
Some large organizations have the resources to hire and retain a full complement of IT professionals.
Most small to medium-sized businesses (as well as many large ones) don’t have the financial resources to hire experienced IT professionals (whose salaries often run into the six-figure neighborhood).
Managed IT providers offer strategic support for organizations of any size who find themselves in need of external resources to supplement their internal staff.
In these cases, the managed provider partners with internal staff. Usually this relationship involves the internal staff caring for specific parts of your IT infrastructure and the managed partner bearing responsibility for other things.
For example, you may have a fully staffed help or service desk that is familiar with users and devices. Rather than upend a system that’s working, maybe you need external resources to provide strategic technology insight and direction, while your internal staff focuses on putting out the daily fires.
Or maybe you have a special IT project that you need help with. Maybe you need someone to care for the network, so your internal folks can keep up with daily user needs.
Or maybe you have a short- or long-term need for a body at your site to augment your own staff.
In some cases, organizations with minimal (or no) IT staff and many requirements opt for fully managed IT support services.
For example, a medical office has strict HIPAA requirements that must be met. Maybe one internal person handles device maintenance, but they need a more robust security solution.
In some cases, an internal IT or business leader acts as a liaison with the external managed IT support provider. The provider handles everything including help desk support, cybersecurity solutions, ongoing maintenance and upgrades to devices and systems, and more.
The relationship can take several different forms depending on what the organization needs.
And, the good news is that managed IT providers have a full complement of experts on staff, providing you extensive resources at a much lower price than you’d incur to build up your internal staff.
When Might Managed IT Support Not Work With Your Internal Team?
If you are strictly looking for someone to provide tech support (or to fix things when they break) and your organization has no cybersecurity risk, a managed IT provider may be more than you need. In this case, a break/fix provider would be a better solution.
If you have information that you don’t want accessed by anyone outside your organization, you will need to hire internal staff to ensure the integrity of your IT environment.
Is Combining Internal & External Resources The Best Solution For You?
After reading this article, you now understand the different IT resources available to work with your internal IT staff.
We’ve talked about how break/fix and managed IT providers work and the situations in which they can work well to supplement your internal IT staff. We also talked about examples of when they might not work well with internal teams.
You now have the information you need to decide if combining internal and external IT resources is the right solution for your organization.
If you decide to combine internal and external resources, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Kelser as a potential resource, but we also encourage you to check out several providers. You need to find the right fit for your organization.
To get you started, here are some questions we’ve heard from customers who interview us (and our answers). This will be helpful as you go through the process of interviewing potential providers.
In the meantime, learn more about Kelser’s managed IT support.
Or, take the short quiz below to find out if managed IT is a good solution for you.