To Staff or Not to Staff: IT Options for Your Business

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Here’s a set of figures to chew on: according to the US Department of Labor, database and network administrators in North Carolina (NC) made a combined approximate average salary of $62,175 annually in 2005. In 2010, that figure climbed to $75,550. That’s a 21.51% increase in a time when many businesses have been forced to downsize.

But Information Technology (IT) is not something a growing business can ignore, and that technology requires a capable and dedicated staff to work. So, how can your business meet the demands of technology and the bottom line?

Planning

The first thing any business should do when making staffing and investment decisions is to plan. What core strengths does your business focus on? Put another way, what do you want your business to do best? Whatever the answer is, that’s the area where your business should devote the most time and resources. Technology could very well be that answer, and so your company may need to look at how to grow its internal IT staff and infrastructure.

However, perhaps that’s not the answer for your business. A biotech start-up or banking outfit may rely on technology to further its goals, but neither business would probably see IT as the end result of its commercial existence. Your employees’ area of expertise may be in a specialized field that isn’t directly tied to IT requirements, and your company may not feel it needs a large IT staff.

But even businesses in seemingly non-tech industries might be surprised at the IT demands placed on them from employees and customers. Mobile computing and the rapid adoption of smart devices (like phones and tablets) have begun to shape certain technology expectations for businesses, and while cloud computing is certainly a hip way to store data, “limited IT skills are holding many small businesses back” from enjoying the benefits of virtualization (CIO).

Comparing

Knowing your business needs to invest in IT staffing is one thing, but accounting for the cost is another. Once you get past the “two computers in a basement” phase of a company (or even the “my cousin can handle our technology” growing pains), you have to seriously consider filling critical (read, “expensive”) IT positions.

However, not investing in these human resources can mean lost productivity and headache in other areas, as a 2010 USA Today article titled “Small-business owners might need outside help with tech” explained:

About one-quarter of small-business owners handle tech support for the entire company themselves, according to the NSBA [National Small Business Association] report. They’re taking on duties such as upgrading software, overseeing hacker- and virus-resistant e-mail systems and updating Facebook pages. But IT experts say those already overburdened owners should consider seeking outside assistance.

So the big question is: hire in-house staff, or outsource it? There are pros and cons to both sides of that argument, and one answer won’t fit all circumstances. Major companies hire in-house IT staff because they offer value in terms of being readily available to fix problems and having an inside view of the company. Often these companies have the luxury of hiring staff with both technology and business backgrounds, and can afford to continually train them in emerging technology.

Smaller businesses may not have the margin to hire adequate staff to cover all of their (often growing) IT needs, or to offer continuing training in the form of conferences and workshops. The advantages these businesses might get from an outsourced IT staff would be access to well-trained professionals who are on call for their needs based on the service contract signed, and who bring vast experience to your bugs based on the other clients they serve. There’s also the cost savings of not having to pay a full-time salary or benefits.

When we talk about outsourcing, we don’t necessarily meaning calling a foreign country. There are many companies right here in NC that are able to provide IT staffing solutions for your business, with a range of pricing and service options to fit your business needs. Hiring a local IT staff means the computer doctors can even perform house calls when needed (provided that’s in your contract). Here at Cii Technology Solutions, we not only offer tech support but the experience and partnerships to help plan your future business technology needs.

Another option altogether is to outsource some technology needs while keeping others in-house in a personalized hybrid model. Even if your business chooses to outsource most of its IT staff, chances are you’ll have at least one person delegated as the liaison between your employees and the IT firm. Having at least one person on staff with a good grip on technology (especially the technology appropriate for your business) can make a big difference in making sure your business keeps on target with its IT goals.

Deciding

Only you can answer the question of what IT staffing solution works best for your business. It requires careful planning and consideration of the choices available. PC Magazine has an excellent article that could help your business start this process, “When to Outsource IT.” Or, if you’d prefer to hear about outsourcing IT staff in NC, you can contact us at any time for a consultation.

Above all, remember that technology is a tool that should be used to further your business, not the other way around.