Can We Afford to Employ a Tech Support Specialist?

Concise | Date: March 7, 2017

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What are the costs of tech support you need to consider before recruiting?

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Business success is increasingly reliant on technology and now there is evidence to prove it. According to SMB Group’s 2015 SMB Routes to Market Study, 29% of SMEs say that technology is helping them to improve business outcomes significantly. These “progressive” SMEs are 18% more likely to increase revenue than their peers. By using technology to streamline workflows and gain better insights into opportunities and threats, these SMEs are well positioned to tap into new customer requirements, improve customer engagement and experience, and enter new markets. 

However, recruiting the right IT expertise to help your business achieve this is no easy task. The cost of tech support is rising due to the lack of skills in the marketplace and the pace of technology change. So what costs do you need to factor in when employing a support specialist?

The cost of IT recruitment

Do you have the skills in-house to identify the ideal candidate? How can you test the technical skills if you are not an expert yourself? You may need a specialist agency to help you assess the abilities of the candidates which will increase recruitment costs significantly. The well-publicised digital skills gap means that half of SMEs are struggling to recruit employees with the right expertise and experience. From attracting CVs to inviting candidates for interview, you will be competing with both larger companies with enticing employee packages and new start-ups with all the exciting possibilities they offer. Employers are also increasingly coming up with compelling counter offers to keep valued staff on board.

Salary costs for tech support

According to PayScale.com, the national median income for an experienced Technical Support Engineer  is £31,101, although they can earn over £47,000 depending on their specific skills..  Even then, you are unlikely to find someone whose skills and experience are a perfect match to your needs. These costs include salaries and bonuses, but don’t include other benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay and pensions. With increased competition for a limited pool of talent, wage inflation is a real issue. CBR reports that the average starting salaries for professional roles have grown by 3.68% since 2013, and salaries for technology roles are predicted to grow by a further 2.1% in 2017.

The cost of retaining IT talent

Once you’ve found a great employee, you’ll want to keep hold of them. That means keeping them engaged and challenged during their employment, with relevant training and certifications. While improving skills will bring benefits to your business, you do need to include training in the cost of tech support. The costs can be significant - the cost of a Microsoft Office 365 administration course, for example, is usually around £1,500 - £2,000.

Another cost to consider is data security. You need to trust your tech support specialist implicitly as they will have complete access to all your systems and confidential data. They will take a leading role in protecting your business from internal and external threats. If your tech support specialist does decide to move on, ensuring that all relevant security access is revoked and that critical processes and systems have been documented will be essential for business continuity.

Recruitment isn’t the only option for IT support

An alternative way to manage the cost of tech support is to outsource your IT services to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). They will take responsibility for providing a complete IT team with all the skills, qualifications and experience you need to manage and develop your IT systems. With a good Service Level Agreement in place, they will manage all routine IT maintenance and provide access to IT support when you need it to resolve any issues. There’s no need to worry about recruitment, training, development or how to cover holidays or sickness.

Most MSPs also offer a proactive programme that will improve the performance of your systems, identify any issues before they affect the business and help you plan future IT innovations. Plus, with detailed documentation and reporting, they can demonstrate what work has been done and help you assess how your IT is performing.

While it’s a very different approach, outsourcing IT services could offer a more affordable and flexible option to recruiting in-house technical support. Acting as an extension of your organisation, the right outsourcing partner can give you both the time and technical expertise you need to create new opportunities for your business.

Takeaways:

  • Half of SMEs are struggling to recruit IT staff with the right skills and experience.
  • Due to the skills shortage, starting salaries for technology roles are predicted to rise by 2.1% in 2017.
  • As well as salary and benefit costs, you'll need to factor in ongoing training requirements to keep skills up to date and employees motivated.
  • Outsourcing IT support services can be a more affordable and flexible alternative way to manage the cost of tech support.
  • Outsourcing IT support services means that you can access a range of skills and expertise to meet the needs of your business.

Find out more about financial management for your SME.
Download: Get 70% More Value from Your Finance Systems: The Business Leader’s Guide to IT Strategy

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