Over-investing in IT: should you hire or partner?

We previously mentioned (in a blog post) that an organization can be of a size where their IT investment may be difficult to reconcile. The question they must ask themselves and their cohorts is, “do we hire a full-time, or part-time person or do we hire an outside company?”

IT Support costs

Let us help you sort out the answer to that often-difficult question. 

Sometimes, when a small-to-medium sized business (SMB) invests in a full-time employee, they end up over investing.  

Over-investing in IT infrastructure is not a huge problem — surprise! — as long as that over-investment is recognized and managed as such. Without that recognition, you may find yourself in two common situations that generally do not end well: 

The employee feels the need to show their value by working very hard at appearing very busy. This can evolve into a plenty of “make work” projects. We have seen situations where a SMB has paid dearly to have their IT person painstakingly create great volumes of work, for example, reams of relatively useless technical documentation (nearly all of which could be collected automatically with the right tools). And or they can typically automate the environment using scripts and customized solutions that only he/she understands; potentially part of a fiefdom that they are building. Hey, it happens. Sometimes these things take place out of pure boredom — IT people like a challenge and the opportunity to learn. Idle hands… 

The employee ends up with additional responsibilities outside of leading and maintaining the IT infrastructure. They may end up doing tasks and projectsthat distract them from focusing on their core job. The end result is often that the person can only get to the IT fires (and attempt to put them out) and is never able to get ahead of things. The planning, which should be a bigger part of the job, is often completely missed. Fires that pop-up are also an additional cost that can be extinguished with good planning. 

There are many very good IT people in most markets. However, naturally, none or nearly none know all there is to know about IT. They may know a lot but may be short in one particular area. How does the businessperson shore up a shortcoming? Certainly, hiring an extra body with overlapping IT skills greatly increases your cost and hiring a company (which was avoided in the first place) while keeping the IT person seems redundant. So, it is often a difficult decision to reconcile. 

Simplifying the decision 

Smart Dolphins tries to make the process simple. We are incentivized to optimize the amount of labour needed to lead and manage each of our clients’ networks effectively. We don’t ask our clients for any additional fees if we spend more time on their network than necessary — in short, we don’t have idle hands. We are also not going to take on extracurricular activities like our clients’ external-facing client support, sales or whatever might draw that internal employee’s “spare” capacity away from his/her core duties.

Smart Dolphins’ staff, that we like to refer to as “the POD” focus on doing our tasks well for our clients, and we optimize the labour needed to do it. It is an investment that needs careful consideration. 

We spend much of our time planning and considering everything related to your business from an IT perspective. 

You may think you can hire a full-time person for the same cost as outsourcing your IT, but make sure you do all the math.

Most business professionals know that an employee who is paid a salary, for example, of $60,000 per year, ends up costing a lot more than $60,000 per year. Let’s go through some of the extra costs:

  • Extra direct payroll costs and benefits. 
  • Every employee needs a desk, a phone, a computer, a bunch of software… and more. 
  • There are costs associated with hiring a new employee and too often there are costs to firing the wrong hires and then going through the rehiring process all over again. And certainly, the reason for the firing is related to a cost borne from something they did or did not do. 
  • There is the cost of training, which is particularly important with a technology employee. If you are going to support their technology evolution and certification, technology evolves rapidly. This will likely involve travel expenses. 
  • A successful in-house tech will also need tools such as a trouble ticketing system, troubleshooting assets, remote management software and potentially a myriad of other tools. 

Let’s not forget that all employees need the precious time of the company’s leaders and management. Leaders and management should be spending a lot of time with this IT employee, you know, that is if technology is an important area in the business. 

What about that IT person? 

So, what about a potential hire as a staff member working every day on your IT?  

Keep in mind that the IT person will also need to be able to take time away for sickness and vacation.  

They will need to cross train with others. If they have built an infrastructure that only they understand, what happens when they are metaphorically hit by a bus? 

Issues may arise in terms of business continuity, and cybersecurity expertise, which is ever evolving at a very fast pace.  

According to Research and Markets, the managed IT market is expected to grow to well over $250 billion by next year for North America. This is happening because more SMBs embrace information technology as a strategic part of their overall business plan. While some businesspeople may see hiring for IT support, it may be the right thing to, and it may not be.  

Are you worried your internal IT employee has made work or has become overly distracted? We would be happy to discuss whether or not it would make sense for Smart Dolphins to assess your situation. Give us a call.

About Smart Dolphins IT Solutions

Smart Dolphins IT Solutions has been serving Vancouver Island businesses for over 20 years.

The company was started in May of 2000 by Dave Monahan, who is still very much involved with the company on a full-time basis.

Smart Dolphins has earned recognition locally, nationally, and internationally. The company is a world-ranked MSP (Managed Service Provider) and earns annual placement with Great Place to Work Canada, to name two.