When people talk about “outsourcing” it’s often thought of in the context of enterprise scale organisations. However, its equally relevant to the 5.6 million of us small and medium businesses (SMBs) who form the bedrock of our economy providing 60% of all private sector employment and 52% of private sector turnover. It is impossible for a small business to have expertise in all the disciplines required to run and grow a successful business. Accordingly, we all outsource to some degree whether that be accounting and payroll, property services, marketing, logistics or IT, in fact pretty much anything. A few organisations even base their entire business model on outsourcing everything.
We are primarily interested in IT outsourcing (no surprises there) and why organisations choose to outsource their IT. A survey by PA Consulting of the enterprise scale market suggests 69% of enterprise outsource to reduce costs while 64% see outsourcing as a means to achieve business transformation. In fact, achieving business transformation and innovation is now a key reason to trust business functions to specialists.
Why do SMBs outsource their IT?
When preparing this article I looked for generic research to answer this question. But I thought it would be much more interesting to look at the shared experiences of our own clients. I’ve boiled down the reasons our clients have told us why they outsource IT into 5 primary categories (in no particular order):
1. Achieve efficiency and productivity gains
2. Obtain direction and guidance
3. Enable an IT transformation
4. Access a source of expertise and / or
5. Allow time to focus on core business growth.
Achieve efficiency and productivity gains
Technology should be a tool that enables and supports your business growth. But it can quite easily lead to frustrations as the kit just does not operate as it should. Often someone in the office with a smidgeon of IT savvy gets marked as the IT person – which is really not very good for the person or productivity. We have found that when we initially take over an organisation’s IT, we receive a flood of tickets as there is now an outlet to resolve all those niggly issues. Amanda Baker of The Silkroad in Haslemere transitioned her business from a break fix arrangement to a managed IT service and noted “Our business now runs more efficiently – the IT works as it should, I know who to call when I need help and I’m getting prepared for the evolution to our online business”.
Obtain direction and guidance
There are so many IT options available these days how do you know which is right for your business. Couple that with the need to comply with regulations and the complexity worsens. Under the GDPR you are required to put in place “appropriate technical and organisational measures” to protect personal data. But what does this entail? Many clients see us as their trusted advisor to take them, their cyber security and IT on a journey. “Richard and his team are proactive without being pushy and their efforts and expertise have led us to exactly where we need to be.” Stephen Easthope, Co-founder, ETC Hospitality.
Enable an IT transformation
When the time comes to actually perform a technology migration, businesses need a trusted partner to help them through the change while keeping the business going. Although an organisation may be able to keep their IT going in a steady state environment – doing a complete change is a very different challenge, but something that IT outsourcers do on a regular basis. “PAAC IT not only implemented the system, but their Managed IT Service ensures we all keep working efficiently through both remote and physical on-site support when needed”, commented George Cooke, Managing Director of STB.
Access to expertise
It can be expensive to have your own internal IT expertise and you have to allow for holidays and sickness. We work with a number of different models from arrangements where we do everything to where we provide second line support to our clients’ staff. Jeremy Rix, Managing Director, OKO Ltd. Values have our IT skills on tap with guaranteed response times “We see PAAC-IT as our IT department, and that’s the best compliment I can give”.
Time to focus on core business
Many small businesses commence with the owner looking after the IT, but at some point the business takes off, requires more focus and the IT gets more complex. This is often the time the owner decides “enough is enough” and moves responsibility outside of the organisation. Ed Green, Director at Milly Green Designs went down this route “As we grew, I had to decide what would be the best use of my time. So, I moved out responsibility for non-core business and IT was top of the list”.
Supportive IT leadership from a trusted partner
We’ve seen that outsourcing IT can work for organisations regardless of size. Our own client base ranges for the single person business to organisations with 50 and more staff and it seem to work for all of them. When we have looked closely at the reasons our clients outsource, we’ve come to the conclusion that what they seek is supportive IT leadership from a trusted partner – and that’s what we deliver.
To learn more, take a look at our article on Managed IT Services, give us a call on 01428 770 290 or send us a message.