A Primer

We speak to SMBs every day, multiple times a day.  Between those discussions and having accumulated decades worth of IT experience under our belt, we consistently see some common ways that SMBs seek to tackle handling IT within their respective organization.

Below, we’ll try and oversimplify it for the masses, outlining three different “models” that SMBs typically go about deploying and managing information technology for their company.  Additionally, we’ll pose some pros and cons, questions to ask, and hopefully get you thinking about which one is right for you.

The fact is, there’s no one size fits all way to go about doing this and in many cases, the complexity of your business and resources on-hand will likely help to shape what’s best for you.

De-facto IT

De-facto IT simply means that someone internal to the organization is tasked with running IT, despite not being an IT professional.  Often times, it tends to be someone that happens to know his/her way around a computer, meaning that they come across as technically-savvy enough to handle what often times feel like are limited needs across the organization.

The benefits are that it’s the ultimate cost-cutting way to go about handling IT.  You don’t need to invest additional human capital resources above and beyond what you already have.  But, there are some obvious cons as well…

For starters, it takes them away from doing their core responsibilities.  If you hired that person for finance, engineering, operations, etc. and thrust IT responsibilities onto their plate as well, you automatically take them away from their core competency.

Talking specifically about IT, the organization is bound to open itself up to blind spots since the person managing it often just doesn’t know what they don’t know.  It’s not entirely their fault, though.  Due to lack of knowledge, they may deploy dated technologies, less than complete security/compliance protocols, and more.

These blind spots can have real consequences for SMBs.  You’ve heard us say this before: Data breaches cost SMBs an average of ~$8.2mm.  The shift to remote working has dramatically increased the rate at which they are facing these types of threats whether known or unknown.  Knowing this, you have to be asking yourself whether or not this is the right area of the business to try and save money.  Putting it bluntly, is doing it this way penny wise but dollar stupid?

Internal Staff

Statistically speaking, we often find that for every 70 internal employees you should have 1 dedicated internal IT staffer.  But as many IT professionals will tell you, this is a “rule of thumb” that often gets stretched quite a bit, with internal team members often being tasked with supporting 100+ end users.

A common misnomer is that solutions like MagicDesk are set up to replace those internal team members.  We’ll cover more of that below, but please note that this is indeed not the case.  In contrast, we’re actually HUGE fans of internal IT teams.  Being in-house employees, they are a part of the cultural fabric of how a company operates and often times know the ins and outs of how things are set up.  That tribal knowledge can be difficult to replace.

But when you have folks who need to support all of those end users, we often find the following pitfalls:

  • Scalability: Technology helps, but it’s still impossible for singular people to be more than one place at a time.  If several issues arise at once, those individuals are forced into prioritizing one in favor of others.
  • It’s expensive: IT resources are expensive — and for good reason.  Information technology is one of those departmental focuses that can span a million miles wide and true expertise in those various areas are difficult to find and expensive to acquire.  Consider this: the median salary for an IT Director in the NYC or SF labor market is ~$230,000.  Tack on benefits and you’re at a fully-loaded cost of approximately $275,000 for one person.  If you solely adopt this model, you are forced to make step-wise increases in headcount as the needs of your company grow, either by complexity, size, or both.

Outsourced IT

Done right, this allows companies to get the most bang for their buck.  The tricky part?  Doing it right.

By leveraging an outsourced IT partner, you effectively should be looking for a partnership that addresses scalability, cost-containment, knowledge and expertise in a way that:

  1. Works and is right-sized for you,
  2. Is secure, and
  3. Allows you and your team to focus on your core competencies that helps drive the business forward.

If you’re evaluating an outsourced IT partner, here are some questions to ask:

  • What technology and services are provided?
  • What elements of IT are self-serviced vs. fully-managed?
  • To what extent are you familiar with my industry and our business needs?
  • Is it a cookie-cutter offering or tailored to my firm?
  • How do you price? Is it variable, fixed, or on a per user basis?

Have questions for us?  Drop us a line at hello@magicdesk.io — our team is standing by hoping to help!