With the drastic increase in remote workers caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, the fabric of IT service delivery is taking on a new form, with many employees that would typically drop in to ask the IT department for help with an issue now having to solve these same problems over a phone call, email or similar approach. This change in IT delivery is causing a big change in how many companies are securing their IT services, with a shift towards outsourced IT services over in-house IT departments. But will this change continue after the pandemic is done? It’s hard to say, but here’s an updated look at the in-house versus outsourced IT argument.
The Debate Continues: In-house IT vs. Outsourced IT
As digital transformation marches forward, you may expect that there will be some disruption to your business’ operations, while processes and technology change at the same time. However, you probably didn’t expect that a worldwide pandemic was going to move that process forward by several years within a few weeks to months of time. This, of course, caused a huge amount of work for IT departments who were suddenly facing setting up or improving security measures to deal with a wide range of different home network configurations. But once that was done, there was a huge change in how work was being done in IT, changes that brought the differences between in-house IT departments and outsourced IT departments to a much smaller distance.
With the pandemic, many employees had to move from working live with IT professionals to using different IT service delivery options, and in many cases, became more reliant on third-party cloud services. This change makes a strong case for making these temporary shifts permanent, as the IT service delivery is more and more like a managed service provider. Though there are pros and cons of in-house IT versus outsourced IT, the recent shift away from the importance of personalized support may become more important as we shift to a fully digitized society.
While this shift takes place, the change caused by COVID-19 has raised the question of whether it truly matters where IT support comes from. Many business leaders would want to answer that it does matter, with many companies still having a solid belief in the ability of their IT support staff and are more comfortable having an in-person relationship with the company’s IT support staff. Though similar support levels are attainable using remote support options, some employees are more comfortable working with IT personnel to deal with their technology support questions.
Another area of concern is that in-house IT staff will have a better understanding of the business as a whole, including how the other employees use technology, applications and data to reach the company’s overall business goals. Though it’s a solid response, it’s often the answer which ends the debate, without any further exploration into how outside IT resources could meet the same needs. This can be a short-sighted approach, leaving you without the best possible resources at a lower overall cost as can be achieved with outside IT.
If you take into consideration the fact that your employees have become more accustomed to using remote IT support options during the pandemic, at least one of your arguments towards keeping an in-house IT team has gone away, leaving only the idea that your in-house IT staff can better deal with the unique technology needs of your business. Though it may seem like a solid argument, some holes are beginning to appear in the logic of this choice. The continued growth of third-party cloud-based services, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), are showing strong impacts on in-house IT support staffing.
One important aspect of digital transformation is the ability for systems to better work together. Though in-house-developed or privately-managed applications, servers, data and IT services can be more exactly customized, they often hold businesses back because they are unable to fully integrate with other systems. By comparison, SaaS options are growing at a fast rate, making it easier for a client to find a software package that best meets their specific needs. This gives the client the best of both worlds: a software package that meets their needs as well as the ability to integrate with a wide range of other systems.
However, this leaves your in-house IT support in far less control of their infrastructure than before, creating a reliance on service providers for troubleshooting issues or finding application customizations that boost business efficiency. When this happens, in-house IT becomes no more than a messenger to push your business’ wants or needs to the SaaS provider. This is causing the benefits of in-house IT to shrink in terms of a value proposition, but that doesn’t mean that all of your in-house IT must be outsourced. The key to outsourcing your managed services successfully is by filling the right IT roles in-house. Your company may have a small team of IT professionals to manage your architecture, allowing them to work with business leaders to identify business goals and form a solid strategy to move forward. This allows what’s happening today with SaaS providers and in-house IT to happen on a smaller, more calculated level. Though IT departments will shrink, the end goal should never be the elimination of these resources.
Though nobody else can tell you whether in-house or outsourced IT is the right solution for your business, the changes that you may have seen during the pandemic may help you decide which direction to take, provided that you take them in an intelligent manner. If you need help making changes to your company’s IT policies and assets, Kraft Technology Group can help you find solid solutions to your digital woes. Please feel free to reach out today with any questions you may have, for more information on our services or to set up an appointment to discover how we can help your business move through digital transformation successfully.
Brian Gray, MCP, is the President at Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. Within his role, Brian is responsible for all aspects of service delivery to our clients. Brian has a decade of experience working for managed service providers. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, accounting, legal, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.