Remote IT Support vs Inhouse IT Support: Pros and Cons

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In our current, challenging economic times, every business is searching to optimize operations, with a focus on efficiency. This is causing them to take another look at processes to make them as cost effective as possible. 

As most workers will need to interact with technology at some point in their day, it is not possible to simply eliminate the IT department. However, new models are being explored, and organizations need to decide where to keep the IT support internally, or if this should be outsourced.

For the sake of this discussion, we will examine the two extremes of an IT department: fully inhouse, or completely outsourced to another provider to see the pros and cons of these different models. However, many businesses these days end up trying to combine these two models, with a hybrid or comanaged situation, such as using inhouse IT during the day, with an outside solution on the nights and weekends, for example.

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Inhouse pros and cons 

It is simple to understand how inhouse IT support works, with the organization directly hiring and employing the IT workers. In most cases it is a specific IT department, with IT specialists, that work on the premises of the  business. As the organization employs the workers directly, the immediate advantage is that there is full control over this workforce. This includes being able to hire workers that will have a good fit of the company’s culture. It also means that the workforce can be fully trained to exact specifications.

There are other advantages as well, such as how fast the response can be to a problem. As the team is internal, workers with IT issues can deal directly with the support team, and the response time should be quick. This also eliminates delays of waiting to contact someone externally over the phone. A faster response time also pays dividends of less downtime, which is favorable for overall cost efficiency.

While some issues can be dealt with remotely, it is great to have workers that can immediately be present to deal with any problem. While many software issues can be addressed on a remote basis, which the inhouse support team can do as well, when it comes to a hardware issue, it is always better to have the IT specialist able to be physically there to power down the device, and either repair it, or swap it out to get the issue resolved with expediency.

Another plus is that the inhouse workers get familiarity with the IT infrastructure of the organization, and each uses a unique combination of hardware and software. This level of knowledge won’t be the same when a remote company has to be familiar with multiple systems.

However, there are some downsides to inhouse IT support. One is the cost, as it often costs more to directly hire rather than to outsource this. Another issue is that the labor will need to take vacation and sick time leaving the IT support short. Also there is the issue of employee separations, and having to replace staff, which could be another reason for the service to not be fully staffed. Also, inhouse IT support usually only covers during weekday business hours.

There is also the issue that no inhouse team can be spectacular at every task, and may not be able to address every complex issue that may arise. Furthermore, an IT team is often tasked with furthering business goals of an organization, and we don’t want them bogged down with tech support issues, and not able to execute on these assignments.

Remote pros and cons 

There are definitely some benefits of outsourcing IT support. An obvious advantage is that it costs less, as we don’t need the expense of hiring, and providing benefits to the staff. Also, we eliminate the issue of the IT workers not having enough work to do.

With this level of variability among direct employee costs, the subscription model of remote support looks more attractive. The subscription cost gets based on the number of users that need to be supported. This way the business can turn IT support into a monthly fixed expense. This also eliminates the cost of ongoing training for the IT staff, and other expensive surprises.

Another advantage is that remote support can tackle problems more efficiently. This is because they are not limited by the inhouse expertise, or the simple number of inhouse workers. Rather, they typically have a larger workforce, which can be leveraged as needed to deal with a problem. They can also be shuffled around as needed, to surge when issues arise with a flexibility that an inhouse group would not be able to do. 

There is also the issue of the hours of coverage. While running an inhouse support team on a 24/7/365 basis can instantly become a daunting scheduling challenge, it can be as easy as signing a remote IT support contract.

On the other hand, there are some definite downsides of outsourcing IT support. One issue that arises is that there is less control when it is outsourced as the employees are not directly hired by the company. Also, as the support provided is frequently remote, this has inherent limitations for a repair when the issue is hardware related. Furthermore, the response times from an inhouse team are often quicker as they are on premises, and the employees don’t have the delay of contacting through convoluted voice menus. There are also concerns that an outside vendor, that is staffed by folks that often deal with multiple accounts, will understand the problems of the company less well, especially when more complicated, than inhouse staff that only deal with one organization’s needs.

Conclusion 

Understanding your organization’s needs can make choosing the best IT support solution simple enough. With an awareness of both models- remote IT support, and inhouse IT support, along with the pros and cons, makes choosing an appropriate solution, or even a combination of them, a much simpler task to cover your IT support needs.  

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Jonas P. DeMuro

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.