IT Support for London: In-house or Outsourced – Which to choose?

London businesses are often at wit’s end while trying to choose between an in-house IT support department and hiring an outsourced provider of IT support in London. To be fair, that’s a situation as tricky as any.

A dedicated in-house team may seem like the more reliable solution given that they are a part of the organisation, and you will play an active part in selecting the team.

But, is outsourcing really apt for a small to medium sized business? What real advantages do you get, with employing a full time team of IT professionals?

More importantly, how does an in-house team fare when pitted against a team of IT experts offering remote support and managing your IT projects?

At Sphere IT, we have functioned in the outsourced IT support industry for over a decade. We have had the fortune to closely interact with London businesses that have tested the waters on both sides. For this reason we have created this article to detail the pros and cons of each option.

What’s an in-house IT support team?

In-house teams are full-time employees of an organisation who in all probability, will operate from the same business premises. Like we said, you will play an active role in selecting the team, and will exercise complete control over the roles that are assigned to each member.

Internal IT teams are tasked with managing the end-to-end of a company’s IT systems and infrastructure.

What are the advantages of an in-house team?

Let’s start with the most obvious advantage of in house vs. outsourced.

TAT – With an in-house team, you will always have someone on call. Most outsourced IT support teams also offer prompt site visits. But it can never be as fast as someone from your own premises walk over and inspect the situation, can it? In an SOS scenario, such as a server crash or a ransomware attack, you’ll have eyes on the ground a lot sooner.

Exclusivity – When you hire a full time internal team of IT support professionals, they are only working on your IT infrastructure and service IT equipment. Ideally, this should translate into quicker resolutions and fewer disruptions, since they know the design like the back of their hands.

Credentials – Since the team will be permanent employees of your organisation, you can spend all the time in the world screening potential candidates. You can handpick the internal IT team depending on the type of credentials you prefer for your team of support professionals. You don’t have to ‘make do’ with what’s available in the pool.

Culture – Ditto with the culture. It goes without saying that you will only hire staff who can be an asset to your company. Team members who can imbibe and thrive in your work culture.

What are the disadvantages of an in-house IT support team?

Those seem like great advantages to possess in a business environment. But those are not the be-all, end-all of it. There are some disadvantages too.

Cost – Hiring an internal team of employees will add to your capital expenses. It’s difficult to determine what the exact cost will be. But it’s approximately £75,000/year for a small 2-member team. There are two questions that you need to ask yourself. Does a 2-member IT team really add the kind of value to your organisation that you seek? Secondly, can a small in-house IT support team handle the infrastructure if you decide to scale the operation? Remember, as you keep adding to the size of the team, the overhead cost goes up exponentially.

Skills – For a moment, let’s consider that money is not a criterion. Maybe lack of required skills are. An in-house team vs outsource IT service company may lack the kind of skills required to tackle some of the problems that London businesses encounter on an everyday basis. Don’t get us wrong. We have had the opportunity to work closely with some really skilled IT technicians, who worked in an in-house IT department for various organisations. What we are trying to say, is that sometimes, an IT support exec needs to be constantly updated with the latest happenings in the industry. Cyber security for example, is an ever-evolving threat. Unless you stay abreast of the latest cyber-attacks, there’s every possibility a data breach could occur.

Absenteeism – If a staff member in your IT team falls ill, you are left with reduced support capacity for those many days during their sickness. Similarly, if someone quits at short notice or takes holiday, you may find yourself scrambling to find a replacement.

What is Outsourced IT Support?

Outsourced IT support is a team of IT engineers who will monitor and manage your IT infrastructure. Support is offered remotely. But in emergency situations, an engineer can visit your London business within business hours.

What are the advantages of Outsourced IT support?

There are many advantages of outsourcing external IT support to a skilled and experienced team of professionals. Let’s start with the most important one.

CostOutsourced IT Support is cost-effective as compared to hiring full time employees dedicated to your in-house IT department. Once again, it’s difficult to put our finger on it. But the savings can be as high as thousands of pounds a year. That’s money that can be put to better use for your business.

Skills – A managed team of IT engineers offer a collective body of knowledge that can cover an extensive range of areas. Sphere IT for instance, has a collective experience of 40 years between us. Many teams have members with specialised skillsets in specific niches. For instance, an outsourced team might have a few members who only deal with cyber-attacks. The probability that they may be able to thwart a severe cyber-attack are much higher. That’s the reason why outsourced IT teams are able to troubleshoot almost any problem that pops out.

Comprehensive – Outsourced teams offer a wide range of services. Right from updating software to migrating entire networks, everything’s covered. It’s typically a one-stop-shop for all your IT needs.

24/7 monitoring – Outsourced IT support will monitor your business 24/7. If you have clients in other time zones, it’s critical for IT support to be readily available round the clock. This gets a little tricky with in-house employees.

Preventive Maintenance – Most Remote IT support teams use preventive maintenance. This means that potential problems are identified and prevented, before they escalate into bigger ones.

What are the disadvantages of Outsourced IT support?

That said, there are some disadvantages to this support model too. But none are deal breakers to be honest. Each disadvantage as an easy work around.

Finding the right team – It’s critical that you find a team with the right expertise, skills and reputation to boot. Look for social proof on their business website. Seek references of ex-clients. Demand to see accreditations and testimonials.

Contracts and SLAs – One of the biggest challenges while outsourcing IT support is to deal with contracts and service level agreements. What’s covered in the IT support contract? Is there a locking period? Ideally, you’d want to engage a company that’s flexible with both, the contract duration and the terms. If a company regularly talks contractual terms, then chances are that this will be a major hurdle for you going forward.

Priority – A reputed IT company will be dealing with multiple clients. There’s a possibility that some of these clients will be large corporations with steep demands. You’d want to ensure that they attribute equal importance to every client. You don’t want a support ticket lurking in the bottom of the list just because they have bigger fish to fry.

Closing thoughts

Its different strokes for different folks. Some businesses might do great with an in-house IT team in their office. But in most cases, an Outsourced IT team will be a better bet.