Why internal IT skills are likely limiting your growth

Most SMEs believe that if they employ an internal IT person they have the enormous checkbox of IT covered. Unfortunately, that is just not the case.

Much like a finance department that requires an Accountant, Controllers, and Bookkeepers, IT is comprised of different specializations that holistically make a complex set of moving parts work together. One of the greatest challenges of a small business is understanding that there is so much complexity involved in IT. Entrepreneurs are focused on innovating and building a profitable business and technology is not always at the top of the list. IT can become a finance function to oversee and whilst it does keep price controls in place it may be viewed as a cost rather than the ability to save costs.

Even if you’ve been in IT for over 20 years, it is still not possible to know everything. The IT industry changes too rapidly for one person to keep their skills up and stay relevant.

Internal IT will only be exposed to the technology a business has invested in and potentially won’t see the possibilities of shifting, saving, or solving business challenges through new technologies that can move the business forward. You only know what you know.

The key for businesses is to understand that technology is an enabler and when used to the maximum it creates efficiencies that can bring competitive advantage. The question is, can you find a unicorn who can do all of this, and does it even exist? Internal IT can work for a certain period but will become a bottleneck as technology evolves and the dependency becomes more oriented towards data that provides business intelligence for critical business growth decisions. So internal IT has its place in the operational capabilities of an organisation but may be the limiting factor for a business that is pursuing strategic growth and is at a critical juncture. That’s where outsourcing should be considered to completely deliver on or to augment your existing team.

YOU NEED A WIDE RANGE OF IT SKILLS FOR OPTIMAL CAPABILITIES

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Desktop Engineers are easy to find but as we shift to the Cloud, there is a lot more administrative and specialist skill required to ensure IT systems run the way they should. The myriad of just Cloud Technologies alone makes it almost impossible to specialize in all areas and therefore specialists are needed to focus on these specific technologies.

We often find that a customer has adopted a solution like Microsoft 365 but is only using 30% of its full capabilities because that’s all the internal IT person knows, or they can’t keep up as Microsoft adds more features. The reality is that an entire business that should be leveraging technology to the maximum may be strangled by the knowledge of just one or 2 people.

That’s where outsourcing your IT Department makes sense. For an SME to build out an entire IT department with the necessary skill and specializations is neither practical nor feasible. Outsourcing your IT gives you access to engineers with these skills not if, but when you need it 365 days a year at a fixed cost per month. 

Our remote support team, known as Innovative Managed IT Services gives you unlimited remote support to our specialists, and therefore we can support multiple geographic locations at a click of a button. It gives customers an easy, painless way to access help through our multiple channels of engagement. Our customers have access to Data Analysts, Software Developers, SharePoint, Cabling, 365 Specialists and hardware specialists.

IT SKILLS REQUIRE CONTINUOUS TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

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A Managed Service Provider however must have these skills to ensure that it can resolve any issue that a typical IT department would. Our engineers have to be continuously certified and complete rigorous product training to ensure that we are passing that knowledge onto our customers and are equipped to support them when they need it. Some of the specializations include Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, Firewalls, Wi-Fi 6, routing and switching, SQL, and the ability to design and implement a system that is secure and relevant to the business needs. Looking at just the Microsoft 365 suite, there is, Windows 11, Intune, Exchange Online, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Microsoft Defender for Business, Microsoft Streams and the list goes on. And that excludes the commercial understanding of how this is licensed and works together to form an ecosystem of collaboration.

Every engineer within NETCONFIG has a certification roadmap that must be achieved quarterly to ensure we are in sync with the technologies our customers entrust us with.

An engineer who can do all of that is known as a unicorn and like the mythical character, it just does not exist. It’s why our Engineers shift from being generalists to specialists with in-house training occurring weekly to bring everyone on the same page with rapidly advancing product changes and best practices. We invest heavily in training platforms that give our engineers the latest knowledge on changes to the products we use so that it is passed down to our customers to maximize to their full potential.

IT SECURITY BEST PRACTICE AT A FRACTION OF THE COST

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The other benefit of outsourcing your IT is that any great MSP has its own set of best practices which can be applied to any customer’s infrastructure and then aligned to the customer’s needs. These best practices are created from seeing what is evolving in the market, supporting multiple customers using different hardware/software, and adopting what works and excluding what does not.

Being on the frontline an MSP has to understand security best practices. 10 years ago, security was not top of mind in a small business, but as ransomware and cyber-attacks have increased even a small business needs to adopt security best practices to ensure data which is the heart of any business is protected.

Cloud, whilst robust and always online is susceptible to the same cyber-attacks as enterprises. A Cyber Security Specialist is a high-demand skill but comes at a price. The days of checking that backups were successful, that there are no errors on hardware, and providing desktop support are gone.

You need an IT service provider that is proactively looking at ways to optimize your systems, that is looking at your backups, and even predicting what can be done better to provide a better technology experience for the users. Security is top of mind as it becomes more of a challenge. Your IT service provider should be assisting you to align your POPIA requirements to your technology. Your systems need to be tested to establish if they are patched and are always up to date so that you are decreasing your chances of being attacked.

MANAGED IT SERVICE PROVIDERS USE SOFTWARE THAT IS MADE FOR OUTSOURCING

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The core focus of a great MSP is IT and therefore investments into the right toolsets that can alert, monitor, and automate tasks are another reason that precludes SMEs from investing in all the right tools required. Simply because IT is not their core focus, but an enabler.

Every year we invest in technology that assists our customers to stay online and allows us to respond to and support them quickly. Our tools allow us to scan systems and continuously look for ways to close gaps as soon as a risk is identified. Our dedicated team of proactive engineers is always introspecting and innovating so that we can reliably predict and resolve problems before they happen. Can you ask your service provider or internal IT for a document that details all of your systems? We can do this because we only use tried and tested tools that are utilised by other MSPs around the world.

Our tools are dollar-based and whilst it may not be cheap, to do it right IT service providers must be investing in the right tools so that their engineers are able to do the job to a high standard.

STRATEGIC IT PLANNING ENABLES GROWTH

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Where SMEs have an existing internal IT resource, we use a hybrid approach and assist with the strategic long term planning, budgeting at a boardroom level, driving IT to the forefront of any business so that a business can meet the customer more efficiently than its competitors. Having a dedicated Virtual IT Manager as part of our offering allows us to work with client’s directors and financial teams so that our Technical Team can plot a roadmap of the technology journey ahead that will move your business to the next level.

Technology is challenging and you need a guardian that you can trust while you drive the growth of your business. Our Account Managers ensure that your technology aligns with your goals and that your spend is being used in the best way to achieve your return on investment.

CONTINUOUS IT TRAINING & SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

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The technology you invest in is only as good as the users who know how to use and leverage it. A Microsoft Certified Trainer will align the technology you have and will show your users how to adapt and adopt changes as they happen.

Change can be a difficult thing for a business but when a user is part of the process they tend to be more comfortable asking questions because they being to realise the benefits of the technology investments. Executives may be more comfortable with to one-on-one training for their bespoke needs rather than in a larger group. Employees are also at various levels of understanding so they need IT training to get to where the business needs them to be so that they are more than just functional, but productive.

BESPOKE SOFTWARE FOR BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE

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Custom Software Development can solve many business challenges and can help a business automate tasks to improve turnaround times but more importantly get them as close to their customers as possible. An outsourced IT provider should have a software development team that can assist you with business intelligence, leveraging SharePoint, and creating apps that don’t exist off the shelf for customised needs.

Integrations between your existing software and having the ability to visually see this via dashboards are a good start to see how your business is tracking. Our belief is that any data should be displayed to key role-players so that decision-making is not only enhanced but more importantly so you can measure what you manage.

In conclusion, when you outsource your IT you will never need to worry about your IT guy taking leave again, you will have access to a myriad of needed IT skills that will improve productivity, efficiencies, profitability and help you scale your business.

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