When staffing needs arise, IT managers have a number of options. Sometimes it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. Other times, augmenting staff with an hourly consultant or a contract employee gets the job done. In other situations, a managed services model is the best choice. Determining the most effective approach is a matter of weighing your needs against the costs and benefits of the various options.
Hiring a full-time employee can be a worthwhile investment if you hire the right person and have a long-term need for that individual’s skill set and personality. One problem, however, is that your needs change. While you may have an immediate need for someone with a particular set of skills, the performance and nature of your business or its strategic goals could cause that to change in a short timeframe.
It also can be difficult to find professionals to fill positions that require a certain expertise. Specialists are typically limited in number and more likely to command higher salaries so they have their choice of positions. If you can’t make a competitive offer, you won’t win the employee.
In addition, bringing on a full-time employee is a major investment. Compensation doesn’t include just salary. There are also benefits to consider such as health insurance, pension plans and paid time off. Training doesn’t come free either, but is necessary to get a new IT staff member up to speed on internal processes and relevant technologies.
Hiring a contractor is great for specific short-term projects or needs. Companies often work with an agency that handles the screening, and provides a skilled professional to do a specific project. That eliminates the time required for recruiting, sifting through applications and negotiating salary and benefits. With a contractor, you won’t need to offer benefits such as health insurance, overtime or paid time off. You’ll also save money because you won’t pay into state unemployment insurance. (Just be sure to work with your human resources department to make sure your use of a contractor meets the requirements of a contract employee.)
There are downsides, however. You will still need to make an investment in getting a contractor up and running, at least in terms of acquainting the person with how things are done in your company. That investment is lost when the contractor’s work is done. There’s also the danger of making contract work a permanent operating model. If you keep a contractor on staff for an extended period, it can become more expensive than hiring that person as a full-time employee.
Managed services can be a cost-effective option for meeting work requirements without relying on full-time or contract staff. By outsourcing certain day-to-day IT functions, you free up IT staff to work on initiatives that add value and drive revenue for your organization. In essence, it helps you optimize existing staff.
Some IT functions are a natural fit for a managed services model, such as data protection, application management, managed security and server monitoring and management. In addition to outsourcing these types of functions, you get the benefits of the managed services provider’s (MSP’s) expertise in those areas — expertise that you are no longer have to maintain internally. For example, MSPs that specialize in managed security are at the forefront of that industry space. They have to be in order to win business.
Here a few more reasons why managed services may make sense for your organization.
- Simplify Your IT Budget – Monthly fees add predictability to monthly budgets. Some MSPs also offer long-term contracts (3+ years) that yield significant savings.
- Reduce Risk – Through the provision of security patches, industry best practices, proactive monitoring and alerts, an MSP can address potential issues before you need to get involved.
- Simplify Reporting – With the right MSP, you should be able to dive into reporting to gain insights whenever you want. If you want to know the health of the environment and the precise performance details, you should be able to get that information quickly on your laptop or mobile device – wherever you are.
Where to Start
If managed services seem to make sense for your organization, do your homework and find a great MSP, not just a good one. Outline your expectations and ask the tough questions. With the right MSP caring for your technology, you can keep your staff focused on high-value work that drives your business forward.