Budgeting for IT support? Questions to ask and advice to consider

Oct 9, 2023

Budgeting for IT SupportIt’s fall. It’s fourth quarter. It’s budget season.

Tis’ the season of predicting what you’ll need in 2024. We’ve already met and had conversations with company leaders who are making critical IT decisions for next year. Some are weighing the pros and cons of staffing compared to outsourcing. Here are a few of the questions they asked and answers we’ve provided to decision makers at companies that come in varying shapes, sizes and disciplines.

  1. What’s the cost to hire? The budget to staff a full time IT professional goes beyond salary. Consider training, benefits, paid time off, and basic tools for the job along with the cost of recruiting that person to join the team. Compare that to the cost to outsource based on the current need. Do you need cloud computing support, a software system build out, or analysis of some sort? Will a full-time employee be responsible for strategic IT decisions, support tactical deployment, or both? Decide what your business needs in 2024 and compare options to make the best decision.
  2. Is my company large enough to support a full-time IT staff person? Depending on the size of your business and requirements outlined, ask yourself, is this a project, a few days a month of work, or a full-time job. Often the size and maturity of the business dictates the need. Businesses that hit 200 or more staffers seem to be those that hit the “sweet spot” to start hiring a full time IT professional who can counsel strategically and support day-to-day needs. Outline the job description and carefully analyze options.
  3. What skills should be considered? Often mid-sized businesses hiring their first CIO need expertise both strategically and tactically. Boots on the ground provide employees the tools they need, server backups and daily questions answered. Meanwhile, as the business experiences growth, an experienced professional who can take a seat at the owner’s table to help think through strategic decisions is important. Decide which job functions are strategic and which are tactical, along with how they complement each other.
  4. What are the pros and cons of a full time IT professional? Often the decision to in or outsource does not relate to the cost of the potential staff member. It could simply be a con if you feel like you’ll take your eye off the ball. A business in the midst of aggressive growth might need leaders to stay focused on core business functions. Instead of having another staff person or team to manage, outsourcing means the business team can stay focused on core services and products. Be upfront about this decision if you decide to outsource with a managed services company, so the professionals working with you know what you’re working toward long-term.
  5. Can our business cross-pollinate firms instead of hiring? When reviewing the job description, ponder this: could you hire a firm or two (depending on specialty) and have them cross-pollinate as their own external team? IT departments really started as computer departments. The goal was to keep computers going. Over the decades, IT professionals have become more strategic, offering a wide array of services to support a company’s goals. Finding two or three IT services companies with varying specialties (who agree to partner), might create a great result.
  6. Can we go hybrid? Instead of hiring a software engineer to take over and build a team, could you hire a project manager to find outsource teams with the right expertise and experience to deliver what staff expects—new software programs, improved cloud services and so on. In this hybrid model (similar to the cross-pollinate model), the business could scale up or down based on what’s needed and turn measurement of success into a flexible value added to the business.