For most small businesses, the network serves as the company’s backbone. Without it, customers cannot be served, employee efficiency crashes and you look like that little red guy from Pixar’s “Inside Out.”
Cisco estimates that business lose about 1 percent in revenue each year just from network downtime. For your company, while that may not make or break you, every dollar obviously counts. So exactly whom should you entrust your network to?
Let’s break it down.
Small businesses have two choices, but one is superior to the other.
Network AdministratorOn one hand, companies can hire a network administrator that is an employee of the company and is a constant around the office, providing on-hand technical support for those that need it and putting together the company’s network vision. That is a major plus for some business owners and, in many cases, the primary reason they hire a network administrator in the first place, but that’s in many places where the advantages end.
While a network administrator may know their technology today, the reality is technology changes so rapidly its nearly impossible for a single person to keep up. Will this person know the latest about Microsoft’s new server operating system? Will they know the latest advances in virtualization? Will they pick the right cloud provider? All of those are a big if.
The world of technology is also becoming more and more of a compliance game. Does your company follow the HIPAA guidelines for protecting employee information? If not, they could face a huge government fine or a lawsuit. These are just a few examples, but they are literally the tip of the iceberg. Small business leaders would rather be focused on building their business than managing these technology issues, so why not bring in a team with years of experience doing just that?
Also, network administrators are people. They take vacation, get sick and need to attend their kids’ violin recitals. What happens when the network administrator isn’t answering his or her phone because they are poolside in Cabo? As you can see, network administrators simply aren’t reliable and lack the necessary tech skills your business needs. Luckily, there’s another option.
Managed IT ServicesA managed service provider does the work of the system administrator plus so much more. The great thing about a managed service provider is that the best ones work for a flat fee, meaning that they come out as many times as necessary to get the job done right. In fact, it’s in their best interest to keep your network running at peak efficiency so they take a pro-active approach to your systems.
Plus, a managed service provider is going to know the latest in technology and have other customers that act as guinea pigs in a way. Is it time for your business to go to Windows 10 or should you keep running 8.1? The service provider has had other companies face that same question, so they have the best answer ready and have see the results. They can make recommendations from a place of knowledge and experience, instead of just reading a few reviews on Wired and hoping for the best.
What about that personal touch? Glad you asked. While, yes, a network administrator will be around the office that is a small benefit. A good managed IT provider isn’t going to upgrade your equipment and then ignore you. They’ll become a part of your company, providing you with advice and guidance, along with a personal touch that is constantly on top of your needs.
And finally, there is cost. An employee brings with him or her the need for salary, benefits, paid time off, training and the need for career advancement. It’s another person to manage. On the other hand, a managed IT service provider typically costs less than an employee while giving you more expertise and reliability. Having a network administrator may seem like a good idea at first, but small businesses can find a much greater benefit with a managed IT services provider.