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internal IT support vs external IT support ???

resolver1 used Ask the Experts™
I'm leaving my current positiion in a few months and trying to get a balanced view on whether the company should employ internal IT or go for external IT support.

We can split the company in 2 in terms of IT.  One section is a old Enterprise Resource Planning system, very customized to the specifics of the business - this side wont change and have a IT staff to support this.  However, the other side to the Business is the networking, server config and enterprise

You'll probably want to know abit more about our company.

We are a manafacturing company in Sheffield, UK about 500,000 people live in the city so not small.

Our hardware:

- We have one Windows 2008 SBS server with 40 clients
- Client machines are Windows XP desktops and mostly Windows 7 laptops but a few XP

Our people
- We have quite a old work force so the majority have not been brought up with computers
- However they are engineers and clever people so they are very technically minded and acustomed to problem solving.
- they use CAD software, MS office, outlook

like i said just looking for a bit balanced argument so i can present it to the directors
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as a general guideline:
internal it is allways less expensive. and allso more production effective. anyway if you need support for specific application you will need to outsource support or otherwise to pay for a higly trained person.
my favourite way is to have it staf trained to specific job
you'll need a system administrator, with several year of experience in order to manage the whole network and solve critical problem, an it ingeneer to do the job related to database and concept job like data system, sap and so on and a few guys for technical on-site assistance for clients.
ofcurse i you use specific application like oracle, unix and so on you'll need a consultant to perform planed mantainance tasks and upgrades planing.

in this kind of sector outsourcing will slow down problem solving time, if an employee have a proble cannot wait for an external it to come if he doesn't have to do with a more importan client.
if the network goes down would you wait for him one day or more?
i guess not.
Old ERP:
Internal support, since internal staff is more familiar with the business process.

System requirement and design is best collected from internal people.

Coding can be outsource to third party, if it's possible and the IT staff act as coordinator between
ERP vendor who write the code and he also act as tester to the new system enhancement.      
Infrastructure: networking, server config and enterprise.

Let the outsourcer handle this, since they have more technical staff and latest technologies.
E.g: some companies sign 10 years contract to outsource the IT infrastructure service to the outsourcer.
The outsourcer can also use remote computer assistant to troubleshoot daily problem.

When staff has left, the company more or less need to adopt a transition period before operated as normal.
But, we try to reduce the impact of transition period.

In the aspect of money and time, I think this is the solution.

It would seem to me that starting with external would be a wise thing to do.  Since your network is already setup, you just need someone to maintain. It is much easier to outsource your IT needs and switch to an IT employee than the other way around.  The reason is because it is easier to hire and employee than to fire one. Knowing how much you would be able to pay an internal employee you can start with outsourcing and quickly determine if the cost would be cheaper to have the employee.  When I have to make these types of decisions, I just think of water.... and take the path of least resistance.
Top Expert 2012
Depending on how much the use your services currently will help you and them decide on getting an internal or external IT. If they are using your services daily you must think about the cost of having an external IT resource and potential downtime because it will take time for someone to get onsite to fix issues. The main purpose of getting an external resource is cost and potential Total cost of owership if the users go down how long can they be down without losing money.

For 40 people, I would look at outsourcing.

The advantage is that if you choose the right company, you get access to several different types of resource when you need  it. And holidays are covered.

So periodically you would carry out a strategic review with a senior (director) level consultant from their staff to make sure your strategic decisions about hardware/Software network/cloud etc still meet your business goals.

You get basic remote support help desk available (with staff holidays covered) for day to day support.

You get on site support and escalation when you need it.

Of course you need to make sure you negotiate a contract that includes all this. I would get three support organisations of a size similar or slightly smaller than you (say 15 -30 staff) to pitch for the business.

Of course you also need a senior internal staff member to manage the contract and make decisions on their recommendations


cheers for the link dariusg.

All the main points seam to resolve around the time it takes a external IT company to fix a problem.  This includes time to get onto site and then resolving the issue.  i agree that internal IT staff know more about the specifics of the company and because they are onsite they know there customers better.  

does anyone have any experience of collecting the problems from the end users and then forwarding these to the IT support.  im just wondering how much time/confusions this would take?

I agree that ERP system should be kept in house.  Coding is currently outsourced to a external company. Requirements are collected internally and then outsoured.  however, final  testing is performed in house.

in a 40 people company there is no need of a ticket system if there is an internal support. the end user just call it staff and ask for assistance.
i work in a 120 people enterprise, we have 3 servers running erp services, mail, web server. every user got a laptop and someone a lapto and a desktop.
we have internal it support, ther is me doing system mantainace, networking common task, my boss, an ingeneer doing all organization stuff, my collegue that is a programmer, and we still have the support of an external company for the server side, but anyway is a company that work mostly for us, and they have to repair an eventual problem within 12 hours.
we are actually migrating to a new enterprise building and this staf is enaught to support user and manage migration.
for your question, simply mail or phone is the best solution for collecting problem and manage solution, and my adviste is to consider remote assistance and client o.s. standardizzation from the beginning to improove your human resources utilizzation.


Sorry oloap88 I wasnt very clear in my question.  I meant collecting the problems from the end users and then forwarding these to a external IT support.  I'm just wondering how much time/confusions this would take to explain the situation to a external IT company who might not know anything about the company and whats important to them, expecially if they are quite a big and have lots of IT staff.

I agree with client standardization, im working on that now.  Remote assistance is something im working ok, which remote assistance do you recommend?

forwarding problem to external it, could be a proble if it is a big company with mor important costumes than you, ofcourse they'll give priority to someone who pays more... anyway it would be a mess if the problem must be solve onsite, since yoou hav to wait for the tecnician to come maybe for a day.
for remote assistance, i recomand microsoft remote desktop if the client is inside the lan otherwise i suggest logmein, or teamview since vnc software allways give probloem specially if remote client have dinamic ip address.
for client standardization i mean that the ideal would be to have only one type of client, but i know it is impossible... so 2 or 3 types would be  ok.
then Windows Deployment service could do the rest, you create a custom .wim immage to be distributed on all the client so you can modify that immage, that contains allso programm and o.s. customization and syply remotely follow user in reistalling it on theyr system so you don't have to do it manually on every machine...
I´d not go the way of outsourcing.
You´ll always need internal capicities to keep systems up and running. Even when defining SLAs internal IT will always be faster. Another matter is that internal employees have a better view on the companys needs.
I´d keep knowledge in my own IT department, but make more use of external trainings as well as certain support and consulting.
E.g.: Let computers be repaired by contractors, but internal network be configured by internal IT.
While BASIC configuration is done internally, have consultants to come inhouse for further development.

I´d never calculate this on a per person base, rather than on a task base. Keep daily jobs inhouse and give everything else out to others.


I like the way the discussions going. I'm getting an idea of tasks that can be outsourced and also which ones should not be! but more importantly the reasons why.  keep the discussion flowing guys! its really helping.
Keith AlabasterEnterprise Architect
Top Expert 2008

As normal I personally look at this slightly differently from most - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Take your last six months activity. How many times have the business required IT support? On what systems? How many of those were resolved successfully using in-house staff - and of those how many were resolved in an acceptable timeframe from the business users perspective? How many outages/issues caused the business 'significant' issues in the sense of loss of commercial reputation, financial cost or loss of productivity?

How many of the forty users are actually in the IT department? Are the IT staff dedicated to IT or do they have other jobs in the company besides IT?

Are all the users in the same office or are some distributed elsewhere? Homeworkers?
Who supports the hardware? Same people?
Is there a potential budget within the company for what you are thinking about? If not, it may all be moot anyway.

One of the activities we went through when we decided to insource much of our support environment was a simple table as shown below supported by a decent executive summary. It made it much easier for the non-it folk in making an informed decision.

Function                                                                                     Internal                    External                     3rd-Party Cost
Infrastructure (Server hardware)                                               x
Infrastructure (Server hardware maintenance)                                                       x                                  £yyyy
Server Administration                                                                  x
Networking                                                                                    x
Networking Support                                                                                                      x                                  £yyyy
Workstations/laptop builds                                                                                         x                                  £yyyy
Workstations/laptop Support                                                                                      x                                  £yyyy
Obviously there are many other categories and we had over 100 but by the sounds of it we are a much larger organisation with over 150 servers and a much greater workforce.


i suggest to allways remember that erp, mission critical aand etc. are server side related. we allways care about server side but we don't on client or user side.
a non working client will reduce production because today it's still the uman factor the most important.
and these are the most redountant problem.
an internal it staff will reduce these problems and improove productivity.
that's my philosophy.


ill keep this open a while longer for other poeple to post there opinions.  cheers for your inputs guys

this is a kind of strange question, there is no correct or wrong answer.it is more or less like asking the meaning of life...;)


Maybe spilt the marks evenly?  the question is asking peoples opinions and eveyone who's replied has replied with the correct advice according to their judgement which is what i asked for.

Keith AlabasterEnterprise Architect
Top Expert 2008

I don't need points so count me out.

as you wish


im happy with it.