Small and mid-sized businesses have the opportunity to improve operations, save money, and maintain a more stable IT team by hiring a managed services firm to oversee IT from day to day. An IT firm brings you a pool of proven, experienced talent without the typical HR overhead.
It's important to choose a managed IT services company that has relevant industry expertise, good response rates, proactive maintenance plans, and other important factors (like these).
But you also want to consider the size of the IT company. Take this piece of advice:
Don’t Hire a Firm with Less Than 5 People
Some SMBs are drawn to a smaller IT firm. They think a “boutique” firm will provide service that’s “friendlier” or more “responsive.” Ideally, they probably imagine it would be like having their own in-house team – but with less expense and greater support. What could be better, right?
It’s understandable why many might think this way.
It just doesn’t work out in practice.
If there’s growth or change on the horizon, a 5-person IT company will fall flat trying to meet your needs. That’s true even when everyone on the team has the best of intentions, and even when you go out of your way to set them up for success.
Reason 1: You can’t expect them to grow with you
As your business changes, you have no guarantee a small team will continue growing with you – either in size or ability. If you open a location in another state or a different country, you are sure to feel the pinch as a small firm raises your rates in response.
Adding new personnel will also be a problem. Small firms might not have the bandwidth to service them promptly.
Finally, the managed services space is competitive. Small firms are much more likely to be acquired or close for economic or personnel reasons.
Reason 2: No flexibility in who you work with
At Pegasus, we always say this: When personalities work well together, technology runs more smoothly. And it’s true.
When it comes to your IT systems, you want reliability from the bottom to the top. Even the best technologies won’t be as effective if you can’t count on that reliability from the teams you work with. You need a team you can trust. That means you should be able to count on the people walking through the door every time.
With a small firm, you might just "get who you get." This person might not be the most familiar with your system or your business challenges.
Reason 3: Slow response time & insufficient bandwidth
No matter how small a company is, you aren’t their only client. They have to distribute resources across their entire book of business. This might leave you out in the cold at a critical moment. When an emergency comes up, you want to be sure your IT company will be able to handle it right away. That simply isn’t a safe assumption with a small firm.
That’s not to say a small team won’t try to help you – but changing course on a dime demands enough staff to have some operational flexibility.
A company with more personnel will be able to assign someone to your ticket promptly so you get up and running with minimal downtime.
And when you work with a larger firm, you won’t have to worry about vacation or sick time leaving you without IT services you need.
Reason 4: Unpredictable “nickel and dime” pricing
IT costs should be predictable. You should be able to build them into your operating budget based on your documented needs, counting on them to fluctuate only when new value is being added. Unfortunately, only scale can lead to this kind of stability. Small firms often try to make up the revenue gap against their larger rivals by charging per hour or per deliverable.
This means your end costs will always be dictated by the vagaries of the specific project, not by the level of value a company is adding to your technology portfolio. It is an approach solely based on helping companies at a lower level of maturity cover their expenses – and it can lead to clients being nickeled and dimed on every service they request.
The Bottom Line:
Hire a Managed Services Firm You’ll Still Want in Five Years
Don’t just hire for now: Hire for your 5-year goals.
If you plan to grow, a larger company will have more flexibility in how it can serve you.
Look for a partner that has stability, a network of vendor partnerships, and responsive service that you expect.
Your business is going to grow, so technology – and your technology provider – must be ready.
Better IT solutions emerge when strong relationships exist between your team and your technology provider. In fact, most people seek out a smaller IT company looking for exactly that kind of personalized attention. But think ahead: If you can’t imagine using the same enterprise technology part five years from now, then it’s not the right choice for you today.