IT

The Pros and Cons of In-House vs. Outsourced IT Support and Digital Security

Every business's IT needs are unique. Sometimes you need in-house IT to keep up. Other times, you absolutely need the experience of outside experts.

In today's digital landscape, IT and digital security are critical components of any successful business. With the increasing reliance on technology and the rise of cyber threats, it's essential to have a strong and secure IT infrastructure in place to protect your business's data and systems.

When it comes to IT and digital security, businesses have two main options: in-house and outsourced. In-house IT and digital security involve hiring a team of specialized employees to manage your business's technology needs. Outsourced IT and digital security, on the other hand, involves partnering with an external provider to handle your IT and digital security.

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice for your business will depend on your specific needs, budget, and goals. In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of each option in greater detail to help you make an informed decision for your business.

The Pros and Cons of In-House IT Support and Digital Security

In-house IT entails having a team of in-house IT specialists to manage a business's technology needs. While having an in-house IT team can bring several advantages, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

In-House IT Pros

  • Understanding of the business: An in-house IT team will have a deep understanding of the business's operations, systems, and processes because they’re a part of the business and working from within it.
  • Regular presence: An in-house IT team is typically on-site regularly or working from a central office and available immediately at need, making it easier to resolve issues in real time.
  • Internal knowledge: An in-house IT team member is an internal employee, bringing with them internal knowledge of the business's systems and processes. There are simply some elements that are only fully shared from peer to peer within the same organization, such as a working knowledge of the company culture and an understanding of the interpersonal politics.

In-House IT Cons

  • Lack of coverage: In-house IT specialists take vacations, holidays and can get sick, disrupting the flow of IT operations and sometimes leading to gaps in IT support coverage.
  • High cost: In-house IT specialists require competitive salaries and benefits, adding to the business's operational costs.
  • Risk of departure: If an in-house IT specialist leaves the company, the business may lose valuable knowledge and expertise. In the case of senior IT professionals, this knowledge can sometimes be virtually irreplaceable.
  • Limited expertise: In-house IT specialists may struggle to be a "jack-of-all-trades" in IT and cybersecurity. As the field is constantly evolving and requires specialized knowledge, this is nearly impossible to accomplish.
  • Poor documentation: Documentation often suffers when there is limited bandwidth, and key information, such as important passwords, may only be stored in the head of the in-house IT specialist. The lack of redundancy typical in an internal team of limited size makes this especially difficult to prevent.
  • Stagnation: In-house IT specialists may become stagnant in their knowledge and skills as they are working in the bubble of one company versus a managed service provider that works with businesses across various industries and with a wide range of software, solutions, and security concerns.
  • Firefighting: In-house IT specialists may struggle to think and operate strategically when constantly putting out fires. They are pulled in many different directions every day and are typically only just adequate for IT needs to keep costs under control.

Clearly,  having an in-house IT team offers a level of control and familiarity to IT services that an external provider can’t match. However, it comes with substantial challenges that are largely ameliorated in the managed service provider model.

The Pros and Cons of Outsourced IT Support and Digital Security

Outsourced IT and digital security refer to partnering with an external provider to handle a business's technology and security needs. This option brings several advantages that are difficult or impossible to replicate with an internal team, but it also comes with some challenges that internal teams do not.

Outsourced IT Pros

  • Team of IT professionals: Outsourcing IT and digital security provides access to a team of IT professionals, bringing with them a diverse range of skill sets and backgrounds. Since an IT firm typically has a larger staff of more specialized IT professionals, they can each provide expert support for a large number of businesses. Whereas an in-house IT professional often needs to try and solve all the problems that come up by themselves and get bogged down in problems their skillset isn’t suited for.
  • Cost-effective: Outsourcing IT and digital security is typically more cost-effective than having an in-house IT team, as businesses do not have to pay salaries, payroll taxes, and benefits. Since the larger team can support many businesses, these costs get defrayed across many businesses.
  • Exposure to a wide breadth of technology and security: Outsourced IT providers work with businesses across different industries, using various technologies, and a range of complexities, providing exposure to a wide range of technology and security practices.
  • Focus on adding value: Outsourced IT providers focus on adding value to their clients and solving their technology and security problems.
  • Strong documentation practices: Outsourced IT providers typically have strong documentation practices, ensuring that important information and passwords are stored securely. This is critical to business resiliency as no one person has the ability to take critical IT information with them if they leave the company.

Outsource IT Cons

  • Not on-site 100% of the time: Outsourced IT providers are not on-site 100% of the time, which may sometimes result in longer response times if an issue can’t be resolved remotely. However, most outsourced IT providers have some level of 24/7 support, which is impractical with an in-house team.
  • Lack of internal knowledge: Outsourced IT providers may not know the business inside and out before getting started, which may result in a longer ramp-up time. It can also be a challenge to keep your provider up to date as changes occur in your business. It’s important to have a strategic point of contact at your IT provider so this information can be shared.

Outsourcing IT and digital security can provide faster, more robust solutions thanks to  advantages in terms of affordability and flexibility compared to in-house IT, but just like an in-house solution, it also comes with challenges. To arrive at the best solution, businesses must weigh the pros and cons and consider how they might apply this to their own situation. An outsourced IT team might fit into their workflow or disrupt it, and only you and your team can make that judgment.

Factors to Consider

When deciding between in-house IT and outsourced IT and digital security, there are several factors that businesses must consider, even beyond the pros and cons of each mentioned above. How any given business operates often incorporates various unique quirks necessary for operating in its respective niche that can affect this decision.

Business Size and Complexity

The size and complexity of a business can impact the decision to go with in-house IT or outsourced IT and digital security. For example, a small business may not need the support of an in-house IT team, while a larger, more complex business may benefit from having an in-house IT team that understands its operations and processes.

Budget and Resources

The budget and resources available for IT and digital security will impact the decision to go with in-house IT vs. outsourced IT and digital security. A business with more limited resources available for IT may benefit from outsourcing, as it can be more cost-effective than having an in-house IT team.

Industry Regulations and Compliance Requirements

Different industries have different regulations and compliance requirements, and businesses must ensure that their IT and digital security practices meet these requirements. For example, a business in the healthcare industry must comply with HIPAA regulations, while a business in the financial industry must comply with FINRA regulations

As a full IT Service Management provider, Uprise Partners can provide most industries with fully compliant IT services, which can be very challenging to develop internally, especially during the startup phase of a business.

Goals and Priorities

The goals and priorities of a business will impact the decision to go with in-house or outsourced IT and digital security. A business that prioritizes speed and responsiveness may prefer having an in-house IT team it can control more completely, while a business that prioritizes cost-effectiveness and getting a complete solution may benefit more from outsourcing IT and digital security.

Businesses must consider several factors when deciding between in-house IT and outsourced IT and digital security. It is essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully and make a decision that aligns with the business's size and complexity, budget and resources, industry regulations and compliance requirements, and goals and priorities. 

Making Your Decision

After exploring the pros and cons of in-house IT and outsourced IT and digital security, it’s clear that both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Businesses must weigh the pros and cons carefully when making a decision.

In-house IT provides internal knowledge and understanding of the business, but it may struggle with documenting important information and staying up-to-date with new technologies and security practices. Outsourced IT and digital security provides access to a team of IT professionals, is typically cost-effective, and provides exposure to a wide range of technology and security practices, but it may not be on-site 100% of the time and may not know the business inside and out before getting started.

Regardless of the option chosen, it is important to choose the right solution for your business. This requires considering factors such as business size and complexity, budget and resources, industry regulations and compliance requirements, and goals and priorities.

Uprise Partners is a trusted provider of IT and digital security services, helping small and medium-sized businesses build value through exceptional IT, software engineering, and cybersecurity. With decades of industry experience, our team of IT professionals is dedicated to helping businesses streamline their workflows, solve problems, and create space for innovation, growth, and efficiency.

Choosing the right IT and digital security solution is crucial for the success of any business in these digital-heavy times. Whether in-house or outsourced, businesses must make a decision that aligns with their size, complexity, budget, goals, and priorities. Uprise Partners is here to help businesses with different levels of outsourced IT support and security services to match most businesses' needs.

Malinda Gagnon

Malinda is CEO at Uprise and has more than 20 years of experience in business strategy and technology at companies including Google and WPP, and has advised clients such as Procter & Gamble, General Electric, VW, BlackRock, and Walmart.

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