IT consulting vs. managed services: which is right for your business?

As the decision-maker at a small to medium-sized business, you wear many hats. One moment you may be in the trenches with your employees, working directly with customers. In half an hour, you might be working with your managers to refine your processes. You don’t even want to think about budgeting, hiring, and your many other responsibilities.

 

With all of your other duties, IT probably isn’t something you think about too much. In fact, IT usually goes unnoticed unless it starts causing problems.

If your technology is proving problematic, or if you just see room for improvement, don’t worry about breaking the bank. IT consulting is a great alternative to a heavy investment in managed services.

IT consulting can analyze your business and offer insight without binding you to any other ongoing activity. Consulting may reveal that you can solve your problems with a simple process change. Other times, you may realize that an investment in managed services may be necessary after all.

Spending a bit now on IT consulting could give your business long-term financial freedom without leaving you vulnerable to technology challenges. Here are a few revelations that IT consulting could make, and how to address them.

So your tech is great, but your processes need work

More and more digital natives are entering the business world. Digital natives, younger millennials who have never known a world without internet, are bringing a new level of technical savvy to small business. Businesses that already have great tech can still improve, however. This is a situation where IT consulting can really shine.

According to research by CompTIA, small to medium-sized businesses have three top priorities when using technology. 58% of decision-makers want to reduce costs and overhead. 55% want to reach new customers. 48% want to increase operational efficiency. Unfortunately, just having great technology doesn’t achieve these objectives.

IT consulting can audit your capabilities and help you refine your processes so that your great technology doesn’t go to waste. When you know you’ve made the right investment but aren’t getting the right results, IT consulting is the smart solution.

You have security concerns – but great infrastructure

This scenario is probably a bit less common than it should be. Perhaps you’ve invested in professional network services in the past. Maybe you’ve intuitively assembled a great network without the help of IT consulting or managed services. Despite having an efficient setup, you have concerns about your security – concerns that IT consulting might validate and resolve.

It’s possible that your work is sensitive and you’re having trouble finding qualified applicants for a new position. That’s normal – 56% of small businesses take 3-6 months to fill a position, and 20% don’t know how long it will take. IT consulting can help you refine your search to find trustworthy and qualified candidates.

If your concerns about internal security weren’t enough of a burden, external threats loom large. Almost 50% of small businesses have suffered a cyberattack, and more than 70% of cyberattacks target small businesses.

There is a perception that small businesses make soft targets because they don’t enforce strong cybersecurity policies. In many cases, this perception is correct. IT consulting can offer advice on how to beef up your cybersecurity and keep your business from becoming a statistic.

There may be cases when IT consulting reveals a serious deficiency that only managed services can fix. But sometimes you may only need to implement two-factor authentication or require employees to log out of their workstations at the end of the day. Either way, IT consulting can save your business a lot of money – whether on managed services or the consequences of a deadly cyberattack.

Your hardware is out-of-date, but you don’t know it

We understand how hectic the life of a small business owner can be. You probably don’t spend your precious free time reading up on the latest in data storage solutions. That’s where IT consulting comes in.

There’s a good chance your business hardware is out-of-date but you’ve learned to live with it. Bad hardware harms your business, even if you can’t see the suffering at surface level. Obsolete technology comes in all shapes and sizes.

It’s possible that a few plug-and-play solutions could make a huge difference in your daily operations. However, you may need to invest more heavily in infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to get your technology current. If that’s the case, and you don’t currently outsource any of your IT, don’t worry – you’re in good company.

According to Deloitte, 72% of businesses outsourced their IT in 2016 – and 31% of those who were already outsourcing plan to step up their outsourcing. IT consulting can offer an honest assessment of your business tech needs, and whether it really is time to start outsourcing.

You’re not prepared for disaster

Thinking about worst-case scenarios is uncomfortable, and we naturally avoid it. No one voluntarily asks the uncomfortable question: “What happens if our business is rendered completely non-functional?” As awkward as it might feel, discussing disaster recovery and business continuity is necessary for responsible business owners – and can even result in greater peace of mind.

Downtime is unacceptable, especially for small businesses. According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses never reopen in the wake of a disaster. Research by the Denver Post shows that 60% of businesses that suffer a major cyberattack are out of business within six months.

IT consulting may not be able to stop a disaster from happening (though in the case of cybersecurity, it can certainly help) but it can help you recover. IT consulting can help you prepare a business continuity plan and write procedures that can help your business function in the aftermath of a major crisis. Sometimes backup and disaster recovery services may require help from a managed service provider, but IT consulting will ensure that your business has the core knowledge to feel secure.

IT consulting by 3Points

If you have any questions that you think IT consulting can answer, there are major advantages to working with an IT consultant from an established managed service provider like 3Points. Our IT consulting services are backed by our years of experience. We’re not in the business of upselling you or recommending services that you don’t need – but if IT consulting reveals a need for managed services, we’ll be able to step in and use our existing knowledge of your challenges to get you the help you need.

If you think IT consulting or one of our other professional services might have something to offer your business, we’d love to get in touch. Positive change for your business can start today with a free, non-binding conversation – just give us a call or leave us a message.