Do start-ups need outsourced IT support?

As anyone who’s done it will know, starting a business isn’t necessarily easy, in fact, there’s a lot to think about, a lot to do and a lot to budget for. This means that many people starting a business may be asking themselves, quite reasonably, whether or not they really need to budget for outsourced IT support. The answer to this is – probably. Let’s divide this question into two parts and look at them separately.

Do you need IT support?

The question of whether or not you are better to have IT support in-house or outsourced depends on the question of whether or not you actually need IT support at all. Here are four questions to help you decide if you do.

Do you handle customer data?

If you handle any customer data through any IT systems that are specific to your company (e.g. your own website or emails sent through your own servers), then you need IT support. GDPR is about a month away and, when it comes into active law, penalties for failure to keep data secure will become much more rigorous than they already are, plus there is the cost of reputational damage.

Do you need to be able to communicate regularly with other people via online channels?

If so, you’re going to be pretty frustrated if IT outages leave you cut off from the outer world, at least via your main device. Problems with your configuration and ongoing software issues will make a significant difference to your productivity, and that of your employees and partners, and having somebody on board who can troubleshoot and resolve problems that arise will save you money and frustration.

Do you use software (including cloud software), which can be/needs to be configured?

If you do, you’ll probably find it helpful to pass the job on to someone who really knows what they’re doing. Outsourced IT support staff work on this stuff non-stop, so they are experts and can protect your business from problems that your own staff may struggle with.

Do you have data you need to keep protected?

This means your own data, such as product lists and prices and internal support documentation. This is data you don’t want to be either accidentally exposed if it’s not meant to be seen, or accidentally deleted if it is; outsourced IT support can help to provide you with the specialist knowledge and software you need to protect this proprietary data.

In-house expertise versus outsourced expertise

Very few start-ups are likely to be able to justify having a dedicated IT professional in-house, which means the choice is between having an employee being the informal “IT guy” or having proper outsourced support.

If the questions above have led you to conclude that you do need IT support, then it is strongly recommended that you get back-up from professionals who will be sure to be able to do whatever you want them to do, whenever you need them to do it, rather than taking the risk of your amateur support tech being off sick/on holiday/overworked or just out of their depth.