Dedicated It Guy: Does It Really Help If You Have One?

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Does having dedicated IT support help?

This question has come into sharper focus with the recent move to remote working and working from home. Many companies now have moved to online e-commerce as their mainstream business as their bricks and mortar outlets close during lockdowns. If they lose their systems, there is an immediate direct effect on their business.

This is a difficult question. How you provide IT Support services depends on the size of your organisation, the physical and software IT environment you operate in and whether you have in-house IT Support staff or outsourced IT support.

What is indisputable is that all businesses from the smallest to the largest need IT Support, however delivered.
First, how do we define Onsite Support as provided by a dedicated IT Engineer guy or team?

Onsite Support

Onsite Support

In this case, there are IT Engineers physically at your premises providing help and assistance with your hardware and software.

Offsite Support

Offsite support

A lot of support tasks can be carried out remotely just as quickly and efficiently as onsite.  Administrative tasks like user management, security profile maintenance and network monitoring and management are often carried out remotely in a mullti-site organisation like University campuses.  They can be carried out by company staff working from home, from a central site, or by an outsourced IT service supplier.

There are, however, some tasks, such as equipment installation that need a physical presence to complete.
How, and how much offsite support is organised will vary.   Some have a core in-house support team, providing support for physical issues, for example, a printer outage. From time to time, only those skills needed to meet a specific requirement are brought in, and releasing them when the task is complete.

Some organisations find a benefit to their staff in having an IT Engineer visit their desk to provide support and assistance, rather than the staff member handing over remote control of their desktop.

What is the better option – Onsite or Offsite?

Onsite or Offsite

First, there is little practical difference between offsite IT services being provided by company staff or an outsourced IT Support Services provider. The usual prime driver is cost, expressed in reductions of operational cost, mitigation of risk costs in projects and certainty of cost management through fixed-price projects with the IT services company.

While offsite support has its advantages, principally cost, in-house has distinct advantages.  Although more expensive, the business has better control over its IT resources.

With having in house staff, although potentially more expensive, the business has better control over its IT resources. For example, having offsite staff carry out projects means potential project delays in having to deal with the management of remote staff, rather than the project staff being directly supervised by the business itself.

A second advantage is improved customer satisfaction by keeping customer service in-house. For example, Call Centres, particularly those outsourced overseas, generally have a poor reputation. Speaking to someone at your desk who understands your business and your role in it is welcomed by staff. Apple keep all their support services in-house, and they say that is why they regularly top the charts in support quality reviews.

Making the Choice

Making the Choice

Whether you choose on-site or off-site support, the extent to which you use either option is a function of cost and company culture, and indeed whether you can use off-site services at all.   Many organisations are moving to a hybrid solution with a core group of on-site support staff, and many administrative and monitoring functions carried out remotely.

If you provide 24/7/365 mission-critical systems to an organisation, moving to offsite IT Support Services with all the associated potential risks may not be an option. Online shopping sites, airline reservation platforms and manufacturing planning systems are impossible or extremely difficult to replicate manually and prolonged downtime can put your business at risk. An immediate response to physical issues can be critical to business continuity.
Other considerations include data and Intellectual Property security.

For many organisations protection of data is of vital importance, and may even be a legal requirement. For example, lawyers may not take the security risk of having client case files accessed remotely without stringent data protection measures in place.

Intellectual Property (“IP”) protection can be a motivator. As an example, a company will not want research data to be accessible tom third parties. If remote access to the organisation’s servers is possible from the Internet, hacking or data theft is possible.   Corporate Email is certainly not something for public consumption.

Choosing whether you choose onsite or offsite support depends on the type of business you are in, the criticality of keeping prying eyes away from your data and the budget available to support the migration.

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