Ask any business owner about their attitude to IT support and you’re likely to get a long and involved answer. While they can see that having internal IT support is a good thing for the business, there can also be a substantial impact on the bottom line. No matter how you account for IT support, it’s always going to cost the business, and it’s a cost that doesn’t appear likely to fall any time soon. The October 2012 survey by recruiters ComputerPeople found that the average salary for computing professionals continues to rise above inflation (3-4% year on year), while the Hudson Group report on IT salaries in 2012 sees support staff commanding an average salary of £24,000-£43,000 per year in London and £24,000-£36,000 in the North and Midlands.

Advantages of internal IT support

There’s an undeniable value in having an internal support team. They know your people and therefore have a better sense of who to prioritise. They’re also familiar with all those annoying idiosyncrasies of your IT system. Another key advantage of having an on-site support team is the ability to get someone at your desk fixing the problem straight away. However, many calls retrieved by your IT helpdesk may be quite trivial. According to research by the Helpdesk Institute, around 30% of all helpdesk calls are for password resets and at least 50% of these could be dealt with using self-service password reset systems. Other common favourites are problems sending files to the printer, not being able to access the server, and deleting files by mistake, which also don’t need a person to be present. Additionally, as technology becomes more mobile, there are fewer and fewer of us spending time at our desks. If something does goes wrong, it’s normally when you’re out on the road, and it’s usually out of hours when IT support are tucked up in bed.

“While your in-house tech support offers help on a 9-5 Monday-Friday basis, you’ll find most third parties will offer round-the-clock support seven days a week. So if you’re in a hotel room trying to find a file, someone will be there to help.”

Now that every PC is attached to the internet 24/7 and nearly every device – from mobiles to desktops – allows remote access, there’s really no excuse why you can’t give access to a third party to do your tech support. By using features like remote access, third parties can log-in to your PC from anywhere in the world and see what you see (which is much quicker than explaining the problem over an email or in a phone call). They can also take control of the computer to investigate and fix the problem.

Advantages of third party solutions

While your in-house tech support offers help on a 9-5 Monday-Friday basis, you’ll find most third parties will offer round-the-clock support seven days a week. So if you’re in a hotel room trying to find a file, someone will be there to help. The same goes for cloud solutions. If something goes wrong, there’s an expert on hand who knows their IT package inside out. There’s also a much less obvious advantage to the cloud in that you’re no longer tied to a desktop, laptop or any other device. So long as you can get access to the internet, you can get all your data and applications. If your desktop breaks, the next available one will do.

While outsourcing IT support sounds more and more like a no-brainer, there are always going to be times where you need a person on the ground. But instead of that person constantly running around doing password resets, they can be using their IT knowledge to make your business more effective instead.