IT Support for Small Business: Common Questions About Outsourcing

Contracting out (or outsourcing) functions of a business seems like an inevitable consequence of running one. Surprisingly though, when referring specifically to small businesses, only 37% actually do. For a variety of different reasons, small businesses will try to avoid it. IT support and technology management, in particular, does tie for the most common outsourced business process (with accounting/tax preparation) at that 37% mark. Due to the complexity and impact technology has on a business, however, that number should be far higher. Below are the most common questions of concern answered to why small businesses should outsource their IT support.

IT Support for Small Business

“Won’t outsourcing my IT management be really expensive?”

Of course, this one has to be the number one avoidance question, and rightfully so. Cost is typically going to be the biggest factor when analyzing a business decision. Especially when being applied to small businesses, as nearly all small businesses are financed to some level by its owner(s), creating an enhanced frugalness of spending.

But the short answer to this question is not necessarily. There are two main trains of thought to this. The first is that outsourcing IT support to a third party will be far less expensive than keeping IT staff on the payroll. Businesses can avoid the costs associated with employment taxes, workers’ compensation, benefits, as well as non-monetary costs while attaining better value. IT companies and managed-service providers (MSP’s) scale their services to a high level, allowing them to provide quick IT support as well as solve technological problems before they even exist. These vendors are also going to be up to date on the best available technology (in terms of functionality and security) and cyber threats.

The other train of thought, is that the business model for these companies is usually some type of subscription priced on the number of “seats.” So, whether the business is run by a solopreneur or has 40 employees, the overall cost will be very affordable.

“Will I lose control of my IT management if I outsource it?”

This question is tied to a broader trait of small business owners, which is that they prefer to have a high degree of control over the business management decisions. In fact, surveys show that the top reason entrepreneurs even start a business is to “be their own boss.” But the answer to this question is absolutely not.

IT support companies and MSP’s primarily are meant to manage the technological devices, network system, cybersecurity controls, software applications, database and oversee other computer-related systems. This takes place mostly in the form of providing system updates and troubleshooting issues. Through this role, they can also act as a consultant who can advise on solutions recommendations, leaving the actual decision making to the business owner(s) or officer(s).

“Isn’t outsourcing my IT support going to slow down my operation?”

One item that small business owners highly consider in evaluating a large decision, is whether implementation will cause a halt to the operation or slow down the operation once implemented. Even the slightest downtime can yield an array of problems at the scale small businesses operate on. So, a rational concern for outsourcing IT support, is that during the set-up, updates or any general maintenance, the businesses will lose significant productivity.

But no, outsourcing IT support will not slow down the operation, in fact it does quite the opposite. IT companies and MSP’s utilize remote desktop connection software, which allows them to access a computer system without having to be onsite in the event of a technology issue. A lot of the ongoing maintenance they do ends up being unnoticed to the business owner(s) and their employees. And if there are system updates that require employees to shut down, they are usually done during non-business hours so that no productivity is lost. All of these allow the small business owner to focus on managing their business and practicing that craft they are so passionate about.

“Should I outsource my IT support if I don’t have a lot of technology assets to manage?”

This is likely the most rational question against outsourcing IT management, especially when referring to lean businesses that just stick with the IT basics. But the justifications to outsourcing IT support, even if the business does not have a lot of technology assets comes from some of the previous points discussed.

The main one being that it would provide access to experts with high levels and wide ranges of experiences. This would allow for even the rarest IT issues to be easily resolved. These experts would also allow the business to remain up to date with the technology world, which may be able to shift that business from just having the IT basics, to an advanced IT system. Combine this with the fact that outsourcing will open even more time for the business to service clients, and increase business development activities, ultimately growing the business to yield tremendous value.

“What if my concern for outsourcing IT support is the risk of a cyber incident that is their fault?”

Vetting potential third party vendors is a great practice of risk management. Especially when potentially working with an IT firm or MSP, who will have access to their client’s database and computer systems. What is important to keep in mind, is that these IT support companies are using the most advanced cybersecurity controls on the market. These controls (or at least the knowledge of them) would get passed on to their business clients, making them even more secure than if they tried to keep it in-house.

On top of that, these companies are fully prepared to handle a potential incident through their experience and elaborate planning. Most will also take financial liability measures to protect their clients, like holding technology errors & omissions insurance (sometimes referred to as professional liability) and cyber liability insurance in the rare event something goes horribly wrong.

When selecting a potential IT support company or MSP to work with, be sure to exercise due diligence to ensure that they have the proper controls and risk management practices to protect their clients.