Outsourcing Your Network: the Good and the Bad

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Some call outsourced IT a new trend; a hot strategy designed to reduce capital outlays and improve a company’s network operations. This is only partly true. Outsourcing network support can certainly provide these benefits, but it’s not a new trend .

In fact every year, Canadian businesses are spending $7 billion dollars on technology outsourcing.  IT and network infrastructure support were among those most likely to be renewed each year.

But not all outsourcing relationships are created equal, and the arrangement does come with a few drawbacks worth noting.  Let’s review the pros and cons of outsourcing network support and management. 

The Benefits of Outsourcing Network Support

First, let’s review the benefits of network outsourcing to get an idea of why so many businesses are tapping into the strategy.

Cost Savings

Naturally, one of the biggest priorities for businesses is cost. In most cases, outsourcing offers the opportunity to reduce IT spending.

Companies with dedicated processes for outsourcing network infrastructure can leverage network operation best practices, economies of scale, and their experience across multiple client portfolios to improve your day to day operations.

Data Backup Reliability

In many cases, outsourced companies possess stronger and more reliable network infrastructure than most small businesses.

 After all, managed network support is their core business model. Managed service providers are able to provide expertise in areas that your team might be lacking.

Outsourcing support services can ensure that your data is safe (with security protocols in place) and in the event of a disaster, your data is available and accessible so your business can keep running. 

Network Operation Expertise

Your in house team may be experienced, but the world of IT moves fast, and it’s hard for any team to stay up to date with the specialized technology that best-in-class IT demands. 

Outsourced companies often require, or provide, dedicated training for their operators on different aspects of cloud computing, network management, and various security measures. This expertise can pay dividends when it comes to planning and monitoring an IT network.

Focus on Core Business

There’s no getting around it – network management is time-consuming for you and your outsourced IT provider. 

The difference is that your own company has better things to do with its time, than mess around with network operations, deal with support tickets, and troubleshooting issues. 

Outsourcing network support lets you hand off these tasks and focus on more valuable, revenue-driving activities related to your intellectual property and core business. 

The Drawbacks of Outsourced Services

Of course, outsourcing isn’t always the best solution. Depending on how experienced your provider is, you might have a few hurdles to overcome. Here are a few of the most common concerns worth noting.

Loss of Control

Losing control of key IT processes is a known risk of outsourcing. After all, you’re handing off control of important network services to those outside your company.

 Note that this doesn’t mean a complete loss of control – you’ll still be running the show in terms of expectations and agreed-upon outcomes – but be aware that trust will be a key part of building a relationship with your provider.

Potential for Higher Costs

Yes, the issue of cost can be both a pro and a con. This is because outsourced services, particularly for IT, can be variable based on the issues affecting your system. Quality outsourced network management vendors will be able to predict and work these costs into your initial service level agreements, but others may be less equipped to predict these natural ebbs and flows.

 Be aware that, while costs can certainly be reduced through outsourcing, you’ll need to find the right provider to make it work.

Lack of Service Flexibility

An inescapable drawback of outsourcing is that it tends to be less flexible than in house management. This stands to reason; you’re contracting with another company after all, and they have their own ways of doing things that you’ll have little control over.

 In addition, you’ll need to agree upon certain terms during your service level agreements which may lock you into data usage conditions or network services, all based on the price you’re paying. While your own company’s IT needs may not be that volatile, this is one of the bigger risks of outsourcing network support.

Should I Consider Network Outsourcing?

Overall, outsourced network management offers a cost effective and simple way to get a handle on network services. In fact, IT support services were the most commonly used managed service (65%), with internet security services and network services following close behind (57%).

But depending on the providers you work with, the arrangement may provide challenges in equal measure. As you consider your options, use this quick chart as a guide to compare the pros and cons:

In House Network Management Outsourcing Network Support
Expenses High costs Variable costs
Effort High-effort management Hands-off management
Flexibility Complete flexibility Less control
Expertise Variable, depending on your team Cutting-edge industry knowledge
Reliability Variable, depending on your system Guaranteed

In short, outsourcing helps you level the playing field by giving you access to industry-leading network professionals. 

It’s not ideal for every company, but businesses who tap into the right relationships can find big benefits from letting a professional plan and manage their IT networks. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us for an assessment of your system.