Technology plays a critical role in leveling the playing field for small businesses. Small businesses can leverage technology to operate just as efficiently and deliver a customer experience just as effectively as any deep-pocketed corporation. However, technology also presents a number of challenges, especially for those organizations that try to manage IT themselves.
The National Small Business Association (NSBA) 2013 Small Business Technology Survey found that the increased availability and affordability of technology have helped to alleviate certain types of challenges, but major hurdles remain. According to the study, four of the biggest challenges related to an organization’s use of technology are:
- Time it takes to fix problems (41 percent)
- Cost of maintaining technology (36 percent)
- Breaks in service (30 percent)
- Lack of expertise (26 percent)
All of these challenges share one common denominator. They all tend to become worse when an organization tries to handle IT management and support in-house. This approach is typically based on the assumption that doing it yourself is cheaper than paying someone to do it for you. But that is rarely the case when you consider the time and resources required to maintain your own IT infrastructure, put out fires, and continuously train employees to remain current with technology and trends. Also, those time and resources are likely to come at the expense of important business tasks. Ultimately, do-it-yourself IT usually ends up hurting productivity, performance, company morale and customer service, all of which have a direct impact on revenue.
Outsourcing IT responsibilities to a managed services provider brings a number of short-term and long-term benefits. You immediately remove time-consuming tasks from at least one employee’s plate. You dramatically upgrade the level of IT expertise at your disposal, and you’re no longer responsible for the training required to maintain that high level of expertise. The performance of your IT environment and the quality and speed of support will be improved, enhancing employee productivity and customer satisfaction.
Security and regulatory compliance, two increasingly complex areas of concern for small businesses, are managed by experts who understand the latest threats and regulatory requirements. From a cost perspective, half of companies that outsource IT actually lower their IT costs by 25 percent. Pay only for the services you need and use the time saved to focus on strategic initiatives that grow your business.
It’s important to realize that outsourcing IT doesn’t mean you can just forget about IT. To get the most out of your partnership with a managed services provider, ask a lot of questions. Find out what technology they support, what tools they use, and how they handle certain types of situations.
Define roles and responsibilities for the provider and your employees. Meet monthly or quarterly to discuss strategic planning so both sides can proactively prepare for changes. Proper communication and planning will reduce the likelihood of problems with your managed services provider. But if issues or disputes do occur, handle them right away and look for a positive resolution.
Atlantic-IT.net, your outsourced IT department, offers managed services that help small businesses focus less on IT and more on growth. Let us show you how our outsourced IT services can reduce costs, improve employee productivity, and keep your company secure and compliant.