Reading this article will help you understand the pros and cons of internal IT Staff or external IT Consultants.
In today’s world you’d be hard pressed to find a company that does not use computers, the Internet, and other information technology on a daily basis. In fact, there is hardly a company that does not rely on computers and networks for its mere existence. Whether we like it or not, IT plays a significant role in every business, and if you don’t ensure that your information system is working properly, your business is at risk.
Do You Really Need an IT Consultant?
Since your information system is so crucial to your business, you can’t afford to compromise with its quality. Technology is a pretty complex field, and unless you are a tech guru you might not be able to handle it on your own. But even if you can, you most likely have better things to do. As a small business owner your time is spent more productively focusing on your core business activities than on desperately trying to keep your network up and running. Additionally, downtime is not cheap, and it costs far less to hire a good IT consultant to maintain your network for you than to experience the losses of downtime.
You are lucky if you have not already learned the hard way that relying on amateurs in IT, medicine, law, and many other fields is very dangerous, so you will hardly want to experiment in your own company with trying to become a first-class IT expert.
While there are small business owners who do have the skills (and time) to manage their network, the majority prefer to have somebody else do it for them. Keeping in mind the speed at which information technology develops, it is quite understandable that many small business owners, even if they are IT-proficient, aren’t able to keep up with this constantly changing field. Therefore, many small business owners agree that the best solution is to hire a specialist.Employ an IT Specialist Full Time — or Hire an External Consultant?
After you have decided that you need to hire somebody to maintain your information system for you, the next step is to decide whether you need an in-house expert or an external consultant. Depending on your specific situation, both alternatives have their pros and cons.
Hiring an in-house IT specialist — This is a good choice if you have 30-40 or more computers or use complex applications that require ongoing maintenance. However, generally speaking, hiring an in-house IT specialist is rarely the best option for small companies who don’t need the level of IT attention to justify a full-time IT expert on payroll. Having a part-time IT expert is also an option, but very often it’s difficult to find a good IT expert who is willing to work part time. Also, for many people, a part-time job is only a temporary solution until something more permanent comes along. Because of this, part-time employees often leave when you need them most. And even worse, they leave taking important information about your systems with them, so when you finally replace them, it takes the new person valuable time to become familiar with the configuration of your network and applications.
Hiring an external IT consultant — This could be the better choice, and not only in terms of money. The advantage of hiring an external IT consultant is that you call them only when you need them, avoiding costly full-time salaries. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable IT Consultant gives you the best of both worlds: part-time, highly specialized help, and the consistency and reliability of a full-time employee.
However, In most cases, it’s best to have an IT Consultant on a monthly fee – and that’s certainly what our clients prefer. Companies that get out of the ”fix-it-when-it-breaks” mode of thinking benefit from relying on an experienced IT Consultant as a trusted advisor, performing preventative work and helping them plan for the future. This is known as Managed Services.
What to Look for When Hiring an IT Consultant
Hiring an IT consultant is not that different from hiring in-house employees, but it certainly has its advantages. To get an idea of what to look for when hiring an IT consultant, you may want to read this article. You don’t handle complex legal issues without your attorney – do you want to entrust the smooth functioning of your business to chance or unqualified hobbyists?
- Review your business plans, and determine if you are happy with your current IT capabilities and performance.
- Talk to other businesses and associates and learn how they are using IT to better manage their business.
- Get their recommendations for IT Consultants and interview a few until you find one that meets your needs and standards.