Friday, October 26, 2012
I'm a firm believer of keeping everything in-house. I've seen that flexible working methods can reap rewards for certain types of enterprises, but my company and approach to management really does require everyone to be under one roof. We offer various digital marketing services to our clients and I find that to maximise the success of our campaigns, it's important that everyone is present to offer their expertise. Everyone will clock in for work at 9AM with one exception - our IT support.
Despite all of my opinions on housing everything inside the facility, I view IT as a separate case. In fact, we outsource our IT for the exact same reason why I'll have my staff adhere to fixed working hours. Many hands make light work, I believe the saying goes.
I don't doubt that we could find a competent in-house employee to meet our old requirements. However, we're currently attempting to update our IT infrastructure and require numerous verdicts on the best investments for our company. I've always found that a support group can deliver a well thought out plan of action, whilst a single worker will only share one particular vision. I'm attracted to the idea of being able to consult with tens of experienced specialists when the topic is a little out of my reach. This model is also highly cost effective.
However, taking our background and favoured approach into account, it might be somewhat surprising to hear that I don't believe that the engineers must be waiting around the corner for the alarm bell to ring. I believe that companies providing local IT support can offer a high level of service from 100 miles away, and here's why.
So we're actually based in London but our IT support network is located in Hampshire. That's a total distance of 73.2 miles, representing a 1 hour 28 minute journey, traffic permitting. The less important requirements and requests will be referred first and foremost to a helpdesk operator, who finds the worker we need to address the issue. In the event of downtime or a server crash, they'll usually offer us a few steps to take before making the travel up North. That way we've lost zero time, as work is at least being done to fix the problem.
Once they arrive, experience sets in and they're usually fully aware of the actions to take. All in all, we'd gain little from having an in-house worker frantically scanning through user manuals and phoning up their IT friends.
I've been tempted to outsource many of our existing requirements over the years. You'll understand my reasoning behind such logic if you consider service prices in London. Simply put, we wouldn't be able to afford to hire local IT experts to manage our infrastructure strategically. We require outside London prices along with superb service to run our operation
effectively and I'll often advise other businesses to go down this route.
The reason why London service providers can afford to charge these rates is because there are, quite frankly, bigger companies than ourselves in the capital. They can afford to hire in-house workers and will use IT support staff as consultants for anything else they require. We cannot afford to pay their rates and choose to go down the sensible route of using a pre-paid support agreement, which allows us to increase and limit our requirement when we please. It isn't for everyone and I completely understand the need for people to have a team lurking round the corner, ready to pounce on a new set of plans. I just think that, from my perspective, the right IT support company will be able to deliver without having to constantly meet face-to-face.