The reason to outsource any service rather than DIY is simple -- will it cost you more in time/expense to DIY or to find an expert to accomplish the task for you?
For tasks that require deep knowledge and expertise, this can be an easy question to answer. I have no idea, nor the time and equipment, to make any car repairs that I’d need, for example. On the other hand, I could paint a room.
For a business service such as outsourcing your network needs, you could do it yourself. Most SMBs have IT support with a small IT team or an outside “IT guy” who helps out as needed.
Many businesses think outsourcing IT functions, like managed network services, is going to be a budget buster.
Depending on the size of your business and the users that need to be supported, the monthly cost of an MNS contract could be higher than for a full-time IT person (even though for most SMBs that’s not the case).
However, when you take into account the overall value of managed network services, the decision to outsource becomes nearly a no-brainer -- do it.
Outsourcing Versus Full-Time Employee
Here’s a quick table comparing the cost of MNS versus the cost of a network administrator. This is for comparison only as salary will vary with experience and size of the company while the exact monthly cost of an MNS contract will vary depending on the exact mix of services.
However, these numbers work to provide an accurate idea of relative spend.
In House Versus Outsourced IT
84,000k/year (depending on exact network role and experience)
$28,800/year ($1,200/month x 20 employees)
Plus, health, dental, 401k, sick, and vacation
General IT knowledge, limited specialization
A full team of IT professionals, with multiple areas of deep expertise
Available hours to work* 2,080 (not counting sick time or vacation)
Available working hours: 8,760, plus proactive monitoring so essentially 365x24x7
As you can see, the cost of MNS is roughly a quarter of a FTE (when you include benefits).
You might be thinking that my IT staff doesn’t cost that much.
As a small business, you probably have a couple of “jack of all trades” IT staff. They handle everything from vendor relations and maintenance to data backup to security to network management and more.
It’s literally impossible for them to be experts in everything. This isn’t to demean their ability at all. However, it takes time to accomplish each of the tasks mentioned above -- and that’s only a partial list.
Beyond the cost of MNS, there’s also the value.
The Value of Managed Network Services
You certainly can run your network with in-house IT. However, by having them manage what is essentially an IT commodity at this point, you also need to think about what higher value and more strategic IT work they could be doing. Here’s a very, very short list:
Creating business process workflows to streamline your business
Identifying new technologies that could improve competitive advantage
Time to stay on top of professional education and certifications
There are many ways MNS adds value, I’ll focus on the following three.
1. Expertise and Availability
As good as your internal staff is, they can’t match a team of experts, each focused on a different aspect of IT (security and network management to name two). Likewise, because an MNS has an entire team on-hand, there’s always the right mix of expertise available to address any issues you have.
2. Less Downtime
When you have a slow connection to the Internet or apps drag or you lose documents, those all result in users functioning at less than full capacity. That doesn’t even include your server crashing. Your MNS partner constantly monitors your network performance, applying patches as required, and monitoring for security threats -- combined, these efforts reduce downtime to nearly zero.
3. Know What You Have
Many companies have old software and hardware connected to their network they don’t know about. In the beginning of an engagement, a managed services partner will assess you network to identify everything on it, where speed can be improved, and potential security holes. Plus, you’re no longer at the mercy of an IT employee leaving with all of the knowledge of your network in her head. An MNS partner will have a list of your network components and complete documentation of your network and history.
Like any business solution, managed network services isn’t right for everyone. However, it is right for the majority of businesses.