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Is it time to outsource your SME’s IT?

All small to medium business owners have been there. The point where they find themselves wearing multiple hats due to a lack of resources. They are not only the owner, but also the sales person, the marketing person, the human resources person, and IT support.

This frequently leaves business owners stretched thin, to the point that they’re too busy worrying about how to keep their business running, rather than actually running their business.

Sounds all too familiar?

It’s only expected to worsen, particularly in the IT department, which has become more than just plugging in and setting up a few new computers and email accounts. Driving this change for SMEs is the increasing and ongoing necessity of investing in technologies that help improve business efficiency.

Gartner estimates IT spending by Australian businesses will reach A$85 billion in 2017 alone. Small businesses in Australia need to invest in technology to capitalise on this business opportunity and improve their strategy and management, supply chains, sales and distribution, and customer experience. Research shows that by improving technology use, the Australian small business community could unlock $49.2B over the next 10 years.

The reality of IT work

Outsourcing the IT workload to a managed service provider (MSP) may just be the benefit that business owners need. Not only does it mean one less thing on your plate, it also means you have expert help and advice for all technology-related concerns, including business-threatening events.

This might consist of crucial disaster recovery solutions, which continuously back up all business files to either an external hard-drive or the cloud. In the event of a disaster, such as a fire, business continuity technology ensures all important computer files are not lost and can be recovered almost instantly.

Ransomware attacks and security breaches are becoming so common these days that the question is no longer whether a business will be attacked, but when. The recent State of the Channel Ransomware Report by Datto revealed 86 percent of MSPs cited small business clients were victims of a ransomware attack within the last two years and that no industry, operating system or device is immune from an attack. The report also indicated that when it comes to ransomware awareness, only 38 percent of small business clients are “highly concerned” about the business threat of ransomware.

MSPs can help prevent cyber attacks by taking a multilayered approach that combines anti-virus software, ensuring software patches are up to date, and having a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution, among other preventative measures combined with company training and employee education.

Sixty percent of ANZ MSPs revealed in the Datto ransomware report that BDR is the most effective ransomware protection. 96 percent of MSPs reported that clients have fully recovered from ransomware attacks with BDR solutions in place.

Managed service providers can also assist with initiating new projects and implementing new technologies, to help businesses improve efficiency and stay ahead of the curve. This may include deploying the most appropriate, secure network systems that enable staff to work remotely, as Australians adopt increasingly agile work practices.

When it’s time to ask for help

As part of its Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Businesses, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the most commonly implemented management practice by businesses during the 2016 financial year was contracting external IT consultants.

Outsourcing IT is not as costly as most people think, especially if the work involved is reasonably straight forward. Though costs may vary depending on the services that are delivered, Kaseya’s 2016 MSP Global Pricing Survey showed one-third of respondents pay under $1,000 a month for managed services ($12,000 per year) — a fraction of the yearly salary of an IT professional.

For businesses that are in the initial growth phase, outsourcing IT to a MSP is clearly the most economical option. Not only are any IT issues resolved by skilled experts, it frees up critical time for business managers to concentrate on growing the business.

However, as a business grows and its IT needs become more complex, there may come a time when a company might want to consider bringing IT back in-house to keep costs under control.

Ultimately, technology will continue to become more complex and essential to business growth for SMEs. Working with a trusted managed service provider can save small- to medium-sized businesses from unnecessary headaches and disruption, and allow them to develop their core business operations.

About the author

James Bergl is Regional Director, ANZ with Backup and disaster recovery vendor Datto.

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