Outsourcing vs. In-House IT Help Desk: Small Business Dilemma Solved

Small businesses are increasingly relying on information technology (IT) to catapult productivity, improve efficiency and give them a competitive edge. But when there’s an IT mishap, small businesses suffer. That’s because most small businesses can’t afford to have an IT professional on their payroll, and calling in an IT specialist can take hours or even days. That’s the bad news.

The good news is it’s becoming more affordable for small businesses to outsource IT help, and level the playing field with the big boys of business. We’ll explain the pivotal differences between outsourcing IT help and keeping an IT guru on staff, plus make you aware of the advantages each option offers.

The Difference, Outsourcing IT Help vs. In-house IT Help

As the name implies, when your small business outsources IT help, you’ll be paying an outside company to provide IT service desk help. When an employee has an IT issue, they’ll be helped by a representative from that company. In-house IT help means you’ll have someone working at your place of business (and on your payroll) to take care of IT maintenance as well as any issues that arise. Both options offer advantages.

Advantages of Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk

One major advantage of outsourcing your IT Help Desk is potential money savings. Outsourcing your IT Help Desk saves your business money when it comes to payroll because you won’t incur the expense of an IT professional’s salary or benefits. Also, if everyone’s technology is running smoothly, you won’t be paying your IT person to sit idle.

Another reason why small businesses choose to outsource their IT Help Desk is 24/7 availability. An in-house IT professional usually works Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. But what if your workers or a customer need help afterhours? That’s when outsourcing with a reliable IT company can really pay off. Additionally, outsourced IT help commonly delivers faster response time than in-house service because with an in-house arrangement there is often only one person handling your entire company’s needs. Employees are left waiting for help, and that not only decreases productivity it could negatively impact customer service.

An additional benefit of outsourced IT help is that you may very well find a company that specializes in your niche or industry. That can be a major benefit when it comes to troubleshooting, resolving common industry issues and proactively addressing problems.

Advantages of Keeping IT Help In-house

Outsourcing your IT Help Desk offers a number of benefits, but keeping IT support in-house also has its perks. A significant advantage of an in-house IT Help Desk over an outsourced one is that your on-site professional is working with the rest of your staff day in and day out. This allows him or her to develop a comprehensive understanding of your business’ specific IT needs and identify potential roadblocks. The valuable insight gained by an in-house professional is sometimes difficult to duplicate with outsourced IT.

Also, many small businesses only have a handful of people on their payroll, and their IT support needs are minimal. If this is the case with your small business, it might make financial sense to have one of your current employees take on the additional responsibility of IT help. If you keep IT help in-house be sure that your IT team members have clearly defined responsibilities, and remember you may need IT coverage during nontraditional work days and hours.

Benefits of Combining Outsourced and In-House IT Help

Many small businesses discover that the best approach to IT help is a combination of both support services.

Your in-house staff can provide basic IT help during the workweek, but if there’s an urgent problem that’s beyond her scope of knowledge or a crisis occurs afterhours, the outsourced IT Help Desk is standing by to solve the problem. If you keep an IT person on-board and outsource your IT Help Desk, your IT professional can redirect his or her focus to other tasks, such as working on streamlining operations or developing revenue-generating solutions.

Another solution that’s growing in popularity with small businesses is employing an in-house IT professional who manages software as a service (SaaS) based help desk software.

Regardless of which solution you choose you should reassess your IT Help Desk needs regularly to be sure your employees and customers are serviced in a timely and professional manner. Also, as your company grows be sure that IT support grows with it.


At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Micah Pratt
Written by
Micah Pratt
In her seven years working in digital marketing, Micah Pratt has worked with several start-up websites providing SEO, content strategy, and content marketing support. Currently in her role as the online marketing manager for Business.org, Micah focuses mainly on helping small business owners make financially smart business decisions.
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