External IT Support vs. In-house IT Specialists

The impact of technological change on businesses

Let’s step back for a moment to the end of the 18th Century.  The first issue of the socio-political daily national newspaper “The Daily Universal Register” is released – the equivalent of today’s “The Times”.  In the age of increasing importance of journalism and innovation, the newspaper is the best example of how technology affects the growth of every business.  From the very beginning, “The Times” was of international importance with all the most significant leaders and representatives of the political world having read (and up until now, still read) this newspaper.  Therefore, from the very beginning of its existence, the newspaper made sure to employ dozens of journalists, foreign and local correspondents, editors and graphic designers.  The newspaper was also the first to invest in color photographs, and much later introduced computer editing. This was a true revolution.  Texts that had to be typed manually or repeatedly rewritten on the type writer could now be edited with just one mouse click.  The amount of words or characters could now be quickly checked, having the text ready to be sent to the editor-in-chief.

A journalist working in Eastern European countries provides an engaging description of the dynamic transition from typewriters and traditional mail to computer writing and e-mails:  In 1990, we had to produce handwritten or typewritten text, yet two years later we had to be able to work on a computer quickly and efficiently.  In 1999, we had to be autonomous in editing, adding photos, making consultations with graphic designers, making corrections, and placing the text in the newspaper; today we have to do all these things and on top of it all, prepare a short written paragraph for websites, social network sites and promotional videos.

typewriter trafitional mail

Nowadays you would most likely find typewriters exhibited in museums rather than be used in the office.  Because of the change in how work is conducted, many professionals of the industry lost their jobs.  As a result, a relatively new sector gained much more – the IT industry.  Thousands of computers that can be found in every business need administration and repair, and new assignments or jobs require IT support.  Research shows that the importance of online advertising in the market is growing year by year.  Such a form of marketing brings with it new technological solutions.  Not only are we speaking about advertising spots on the radio, television or billboards, but also mobile applications come into play together with social media, interactive games and movies.  All these activities require the work of groups of programmers and graphic designers that enter the market every year.

The company as a living organism

The word company had already appeared in the early 17th Century in Italy.  Back then, it had a slightly different meaning but it was largely related to the basic activities of every modern enterprise.  The French word firme and Italian firma mean to put someone’s signature to something, for example sign a contract.  In Western European countries where mercantilism was thriving and the very first banks were established, the first legal norms were also introduced, now known as civil or consumer law.

Regardless of whether a company has ten or fifty thousand employees, its operation can be perfectly described as a beehive or human organism.  For us to function normally, a number of cells, neural connections, muscles, white and red blood cells and finally systems – immune, skeletal etc need to operate.  It’s a similar case in a company.  Every employee is a direct element that constitutes the whole, has its particular task to do and is assigned to a specific department – financial, creative, human resources or IT.  Peter Armstrong, Chief Strategy Officer at BMC Software admitted in an interview, “an organization is like a human body that can be kept in good shape and therefore have more strength and creativity or it can get sick which will cause a decrease in effectiveness and productivity”.

Geoffrey West, British physicist, spent his entire life trying to combine science with the social sciences.  West had proved that both living organisms and companies are subject to the so-called power law.  Following the researcher’s lead, this means that the rate of growth, vitality and metabolism (burning rate) is directly proportional to its size.  You can directly analyze this theory from a business perspective.  Unfortunately, this is a forecast of the inevitable collapse of each organization.  However, this element should be taken with a grain of salt, because Geoffrey West has also proven that: the company has much more control over its fate than biologically programmed living organisms.  The learning process plays a key role here.  An organization does not need to get old naturally when it comes to employee turnover, or following technological progress and it will open up to social change in the world.  Below are some examples of trends that will significantly change the way companies operate:

  • TBM (Time Based Management) – a concept that is based on effective time and human resources management in the company
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – focuses on managing relationships with the customer so that the customers get the attention they require
  • TEAM LEASING – the process of hiring external employees or entire project teams, especially for IT
  • Investment in the environment – recently the British Government decided that as of 2050 only electric or hybrid vehicles will be allowed on roads (not including bicycles…;) and 2016 will see more renewable energy investments than in related industries (such as fossil fuels). Being environmentally friendly has become extremely “fashionable” and thanks to this trend, many companies prefer to invest in nature conservation which results in the improvement of the environment and a good brand image.

The most important sectors in a company

Each organization must follow specific standards which fall into five points:

  • Strategy / mission – the company’s goals and ideas that need to be achieved
  • People – the employees, above all else, who build the company and fulfill assigned tasks, but also those employed in operating companies (eg. transport, courier, catering) and the clients who reflect the company’s good image and reputation
  • Size of the organization – larger companies are usually characterized by rather formal procedures; smaller organizations are often family businesses
  • The organization’s environment – this depends on the characteristics and specialization of the company or company in which the subsidiaries are located as well as the location, competition, economy which translates into growth
  • Technology – patents that the business activity is based on, for example it can be the construction and setting up of a production line for creating a certain assortment, (in the case of a large company), a bread baking recipe (for medium and small companies).

The linear structure is characterized by a high level of formalism and narrow range of responsibilities per worker.  Apart from the abovementioned divisions, the company also consists of the following separate departments:

  • IT Department – can both execute projects ordered by clients but also take care of the company’s IT security and repair any possible malfunction
  • PR Department – directly linked to marketing and advertising, it focuses mainly on maintaining a good corporate image and relationships with the public and media. The most important representative of this department is the press spokesman
  • ADVERTISING – is linked closely with the PR and marketing department (there’s often no division and all three areas usually create one department). It is responsible for conducting consumer research, creating the right message and promoting the products or services offered by the company
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE – is responsible for maintaining good, smooth relationships with customers
  • RESEARCH DEPARTMENT – conducts tests and analyses which are then used in the various departments so that their work is made more effective
  • ACCOUNTING – linked to the finance department (both areas are usually merged into one department) and for many economists it’s the heart of every business
body leasing

What is Team Leasing?

Team leasing is very popular in large and medium-sized companies.  Its phenomenon is based on employee exchange with the benefit and help for both parties. Most commonly, team leasing is conducted by temporary employment agencies.  They assign the employee to carry out the task in a company, insuring him and being in charge of the wage settlement process.  Often, team leasing companies have a large database of potential employees, usually from the IT industry, who are qualified and specialized in various fields.  A company that wants to use such services needs to only develop guidelines under which individual employees or whole projects teams are put together.

The contract of the temporary employment agency with the recipient should include:


  • Wages
  • Duration of the contract
  • Scope of services
  • Terms of the contract
  • Criteria for assessing the work completed


Both sides of the contract, for example, to support IT, are declared by:

THE CONTRACTOR: to ensure appropriate (and pre-determined) working conditions and timely pay

TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCY: confidentiality of information, to provide qualified employees for the mandated task, provide substitute staff in the case of employee sickness, documentation and employee portfolio

Benefits of external IT support:

  • Human resources regulation – the employer does not have to employ permanent staff (which involves the payment of contributions and other expenses) to one or two projects;
  • Lack of overstaffing – In the case of more extensive orders, the employer uses team leasing, thus limiting the excess of employees in the company over the long term, which translates into more space for permanent employees and a clear division of responsibilities, everyone has tasks to do 😉
  • Time saving – the employer does not waste any time recruiting, relies on the guidance given to him by the heads of departments and advisers and thus looks for specialists;
  • Highly qualified employees – Companies that offer external IT support often have valuable staff with high specializations and extensive working experience in their ranks.
  • Saving money – hiring a temporary employee or external IT support will always be less costly than maintaining an entire IT department on a permanent basis.
  • Lack of involvement of the recruitment department – which also involves a substantial reduction in additional costs;
  • IT on the go – external specialists keep up-to-date with all the information from the world of new technologies in information technology and business. This is the nature of their work, where their main strength is flexibility, mobility and providing fast, efficient solutions.

Risks related to external IT support:

  • Mismatch of the employee to a specific task – this may be due to his lack of competence and, consequently, a poor discernment of the temporary employment agency or another hiring company;
  • Obligations greater than what’s in the contract – these may be minor tasks that are indirectly related to the project, but sometimes it takes the employer much more effort and time than what the pay is worth;
  • Bad working conditions – standards much lower than those described in the contract;
  • Overdue pay
  • A mismatch with the rest of the team – poor communication may occur when the team is completely unfamiliar with other team members, so it should be taken into account that they need a few days to acclimatize and adapt to the entire team;
  • Lack of cooperation with the rest of the team and other departments – IT is often only part of the whole project, therefore cooperation and smooth communication between all employees is required, lack of communication will significantly slow down work and its final effect;
  • Lack of confidentiality on the part of the employee – the contract should emphasize (if necessary) that everything within the company is strictly confidential and the information should not be passed even onto close ones.


In its 2016 report, The US Gartner research and advisory group estimates that the global IT outsourcing market is worth more than $274 billion.  This is an important indicator that the IT industry is now one of the most important and profitable areas for businesses. What is interesting is the greater popularity of the model of external IT support rather than setting up new divisions in the company. This is due to the fact that IT is a field that has been on the market relatively recently. Many companies existed at the time of introduction of computers for general use.  Instead of creating a new department and recruiting employees, many entrepreneurs preferred to use external IT support that gave them ready-to-work professionals. In addition, the process of obtaining such teams is much shorter than the standard recruitment time, which must initially be based on research and analysis of a still unstable and progressive market.

16% of employees admit that when they change jobs they take all the information they collect and then use it. One of the most important reasons that discourage employers from using external IT support is fear of lack of confidentiality. Entrepreneurs are afraid that all the valuable information and advice that an employee will receive in the future can be, for example, used for competitors. This is a serious, but to a certain extent, legitimate charge. In the case of the team leasing industry, the employees often provide services to companies that compete with each other. Professionals may, however, maintain professionalism and separate all previous work from their current job. An additional plus for convincing someone to take advantage of external IT support is having access to industry-wide expertise. In the case of employing several employees in a small IT department, when they decide to leave they’d most likely also leave their knowledge behind.

Below are some (but there are many more) examples of services provided by external IT companies:

  • administration, development and maintenance of servers, computers, networks, applications, programs, electronic equipment;
  • consultancy on new equipment purchase or network development;
  • consultations on IT components in projects;
  • creating and administering services, websites, mailboxes, social networking sites;
  • Caring for customer relations channels;
  • Disaster recovery and repair (the most popular service provided by external IT support);
  • Creating databases;
  • Information management;
  • Managing IT processes in the company;
  • Participation, project consultation.