Business IT is nothing new, but it’s traditionally something large companies have been more apt to have. As times have changed, though, businesses of every size require more technology to thrive. And more tech means more to buy, implement, and manage.
Just keeping track of applications and software licenses can feel like a full-time job. Add to that the growing cybersecurity threats, regulations, and general problems that create downtime and get in the way of productivity.
IT can be overwhelming, which is why more small-to-medium-sized businesses are asking themselves if they need to add an IT person or department. Every business is unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But having a better understanding of what IT departments do, how they’ve evolved, and your options can help you determine the next steps for your IT.
What Does an IT Department Do?
You likely know IT departments as the go-to team for troubleshooting and help desk situations. While that’s accurate, IT teams also handle a wide variety of tech-related tasks that support the business and organization.
Before you determine whether you need an internal IT department, it’s important to understand more of IT’s role in an organization.
IT departments typically:
- Manage hardware, software, operating systems, internet applications, and the overall IT infrastructure, meaning how everything is connected and works together to support your business. This also includes managing the lifespan of the components that make up the infrastructure and developing plans for maintenance, replacement, and additions.
- Stay up to date on new technologies to help assess what the business may want or need to implement in the future.
- Analyze and strategize to make sure IT continues to support the business efficiently and effectively.
- Manage the IT budget to align with both the IT and overall business strategy in a cost-effective way.
- Execute major IT projects, like system changes, to minimize downtime and the impact to workflows, productivity, and the overall business.
- Manage the business’s website to keep it up to date and secure.
- Make sure IT is compliant with all required regulations, whether local or federal.
- Oversee cybersecurity, including access management, active monitoring for cyberattacks, and response to threats.
In an increasingly data-driven world, the IT department is also frequently interwoven with data management, including data storage, backup, accessibility, and more.
The New IT Department
While help desk and troubleshooting is still a part of IT, new technologies and hybrid and remote employee models have made traditional IT departments more obscure. Businesses with a few hundred employees or less are finding it easier than ever to manage without an IT team. If employees are mostly remote, the need for expansive hardware solutions are no longer needed in the office. Cloud computing solutions are also frequently easier to manage.
But while many businesses are getting away with having no IT department, there’s still a lot to manage!
Someone still needs to be responsible for new and existing software licenses and renewals, any existing hardware (especially if the business issues laptops, tablets, etc.), increasingly complex cybersecurity concerns, change management for new system and software implementation, data storage and management, backups, and more.
While other people on the team could potentially pick up these responsibilities, it would make more sense for there to be a designated person or team to take care of them all.
For smaller businesses, having a full team on staff is costly, and even having a sole CIO or CTO on staff can also come with a high salary price tag. Neglecting to manage your IT, however, can create headaches—ones that can directly impact your bottom line and your potential to grow.
Thinking Outside the IT Department
The good news? There’s a middle option between having no IT team and hiring in-person staff.
A managed service provider (MSP) is a popular option for small-and-medium-sized businesses. This means your IT is managed off site by a firm partner with an accessible team of experts to manage your day-to-day needs, including actively monitoring your systems for problems like cybersecurity attacks and downtimes.
It also means your IT cost is more streamlined. Instead of paying a salary plus the additional costs of operating, maintaining, and expanding your IT, you’ll have a predictable monthly spend to budget that cuts runaway IT spend.
The other plus? An MSP can grow with you. If you choose to add on-site IT staff, your MSP can continue supporting as an extension of your team.
Growing with a Trusted MSP Partner
Are you looking to take the next step? Interested to learn what a MSP relationship can mean for your business? We’re here to help!
At AxiaTP, we provide managed IT services in Indianapolis, the midwest, and beyond. As a firm with a consultative approach, we’re here to help you align your tech to your big picture business goals and develop an IT strategy that puts you in the position to thrive and grow.