There are many good reasons for seeking third-party IT support. For some businesses, it’s a way of reliably getting additional assistance. For others, it’s a flexible and scalable strategy that can support business growth. For still others, it’s a way to save money and stay lean.
Is this always a good investment? And how can you tell for sure?
- 1 What Is Third-Party IT Support?
- 1.1 The Advantages of Third-Party IT Support
- 1.2 Are There Downsides of Third-Party IT Support?
- 1.3 How to Choose the Right Third-Party IT Support Provider
What Is Third-Party IT Support?
Third-party support in the IT world is, essentially, an alternative to vendor support. Instead of relying on a vendor for maintenance, monitoring, and other types of management, you’ll rely on a third-party agency to do this work. Service contracts and parameters are going to vary depending on the type of agency you contact, and you’ll likely have some flexibility in deciding which services you utilize.
Primarily, third-party IT support is dedicated to keeping your IT infrastructure up and running, even long past its original end of life. Some third-party IT service providers also offer managed IT services like procurement, cybersecurity planning, and more.
The Advantages of Third-Party IT Support
There are many advantages of seeking third-party IT support:
An alternative to OEM support
When end of life (EOL) for a given piece of hardware or software arrives, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will no longer sell it. When end of service life (EOSL) arrives, the OEM will no longer support it in any capacity. Even if you prefer working with your original vendor, this may not be a feasible option after a certain point.
It’s possible to practice IT support entirely internally, with a team of your own. But this can be both expensive and hard to manage. By working with a third party, you’ll gain instant access to an expansive team of experienced, talented individuals.
No talent acquisition or training costs
Building an internal IT support team is difficult and expensive. But you won’t have any talent acquisition or training costs when working with a third party. You also won’t have to worry about employee turnover.
24/7 support (usually)
In most cases, third-party IT support services offer 24/7 support. If you suffer a major outage at 3 am, you can still get someone on the phone to talk you through the issue and help you find a solution.
Responsiveness and accountability
Most third-party vendors are incentivized to keep your business and earn referrals, so they tend to be highly responsive and accountable.
In many cases, your third-party IT experts will willingly give you professional advice on scaling and maintaining your IT infrastructure. This is especially valuable if you don’t have seasoned IT veterans on your team.
Working with a third party also increases scalability, enabling you to act with agility as your company grows.
Are There Downsides of Third-Party IT Support?
Are these advantages worth the money? Are there any downsides that you need to consider as well?
The biggest “downside” is arguably the cost of third-party IT support, but among your various options, this is likely the least expensive choice. You may not be able to get service through your original vendor, and even if you do, it will probably be more expensive. And hiring an in-house team is even more expensive than that.
Working with a third party does come with a few challenges to overcome. For example, there may be disconnects in terms of communication and culture, and you won’t always have full transparency like you do with your in-house team. However, as long as you choose a reliable third-party IT support provider, these issues should be minimal or nonexistent.
How to Choose the Right Third-Party IT Support Provider
So how do you choose the best third-party IT support provider for your business?
Look at the following:
Not all IT support providers offer the same range of capabilities. You’ll likely find a different range of service offerings with each provider, and some providers only provide service for certain manufacturers or certain pieces of equipment.
Many IT support providers offer 24/7 monitoring and assistance, but this isn’t always the case.
You’ll also need to compare pricing. It’s not uncommon to find two different support providers offering very similar services for very different prices.
Good communication builds stronger professional relationships. Look for a support provider that’s easy to communicate with.
Reviews and testimonials
You’ll also want to pay attention to reviews and testimonials. What do past clients have to say about this business?
For most businesses, third-party IT support is a good investment, and this is especially true if you want to use old hardware beyond the cessation of OEM support. The most important caveat is that you have to do your research and choose the right partner; with a trustworthy, competent partner, the advantages typically far outweigh the downsides.