Technical Support: In-House vs. Outsourced

IT support is a critical aspect in business, especially in these times when the use of technology is so widespread. In your own backyard, you’ll find that a lot of your processes depend on your organization’s IT system and resources. For instance, your IT team is responsible for making sure that your files and data are stored and backed up properly, or that only authorized persons will have access to your internal network.

Technical Support In-House vs Outsourced

Tech support also helps resolve issues and complaints that customers might have when using your product or navigating your site, app, software, and the like. Altogether, these forms of support can offer tremendous value to your business’s growth, which makes it imperative that you invest in excellent IT support for your business.

The question is whether you should build your own team or outsource your tech support. Because both options come with their own advantages and drawbacks, it might not be easy for you to choose one over the other. A good rule of thumb is to use your unique business situation as the basis for your decision.

Here’s a rundown of how an in-house and outsourced technical support stack up against each other.

 

The In-House Tech Support Option

Pros Cons
Your employees’ salary will be the same regardless of the size or nature of the task at hand. You’ll need to scale up your team to cater to a broad range of expertise.
You’ll have a point person on site most of the time, so addressing issues will be fairly quick. You must have an on-call staff to deal with problems that happen outside of regular working hours, on holidays, or when your point person is unavailable.
The team knows your company’s set-up and system inside out. You need to invest in regular training to your IT staff to upgrade their skills.

 

Requirements

Having the right resources can help ensure that your in-house IT support team operates efficiently. It all starts with recruiting network administrators, developers, and technicians with a degree or certification in the fields of computer science, computing, or software engineering. Your candidate should demonstrate skills in troubleshooting, logical thinking, and problem-solving.

Time management is also an important aspect since your IT team will be dealing with time-sensitive service issues and requests. Not to mention the need for good interpersonal skills (they are your support staff after all). Without good communication, you're bound to run into some problems.

There should be a dedicated workspace for your tech support team, too. You’ll need to set it up with the right infrastructure, including the necessary hardware and software. Your team won’t be able to do without internet connectivity, servers, modern computers, routers, telecom equipment, productivity applications, database management system, and the like.  

 

When Do You Need an In-house IT Support?

Here are some cases when it might be ideal to build or maintain your own tech team:

  • You’re developing a product and you need to closely coordinate different aspects of the project with your team.
  • You’ve implemented customized systems that only your team can understand.
  • You’re in the fintech industry, where the technology itself is the main product or unique selling proposition of your company.
  • Your operations involve handling ultra-sensitive data that you’re not willing to share with third parties.

 

The Outsourced Tech Support Option

Pros Cons
Your customers will have 24/7 access to an IT help desk. There might be communication or cultural barriers between your customers/employees and your outsourced tech support team.
You have lower overhead costs, including those related to infrastructure, employee benefits, and trainings, as well as building leases. You might have limited management control over remote employees.
You have more free time focus on your business’s daily operations and core competencies. You have to set parameters regarding data privacy and intellectual property concerns.

 

Requirements

With outsourced technical support, most of the requirements pertaining to recruitment, training, and IT infrastructure will be the responsibility of your service provider. However, you must determine the level of IT support service to outsource. Here are three possible models:

  1. Break-Fix Support. The outsourcing company remotely fixes any issues with any of your computers or your network as they happen. There will be additional charges for on-site visits or when there are replacement parts needed for your equipment.
  2. Pro-active Support. The goal is for the IT support company to prevent system outages in your network through regular monitoring or updating of your hardware and software.
  3. Fully Managed Support. This involves delegating all of your IT support and maintenance needs to the outsourcing company. If you’re choosing this service model, make sure to discuss key areas such as response times, staff coverage hours, compatibility of applications, hardware warranties, and everything else that might impact the quality of support for your company or customers.

 

When Do You Need to Outsource Your Tech Support?

You may need to hire an expert tech support team in these situations:

  • You plan to use your cost savings to build bigger or better products or services.
  • You’re in an industry – e-commerce included – where you want to focus on what you’re selling rather than how you’re selling it.
  • You have different skill and knowledge requirements for every project in the pipeline.
  • You’re working with critical deadlines for your project, product, or service.
  • Your business is expanding into foreign markets or highly specialized industries.

 

Final Words

There’s no question about the importance of a good IT support for your business. While choosing between having an internal IT help desk and outsourcing to an expert tech support team may depend on your business priorities, it’s worth noting that outsourced IT support offers several long-term benefits for your company. These may range from reduced operational costs to a wider pool of IT experts and access to on-demand services.

As a result, your product or service model becomes more efficient and satisfying for your customers while providing overall growth for your business.

 

Find out how the experts at Intelligent Bee can make technical support a breeze!


Android vs iOS: What Platform Should You Build Your Mobile App For?

Now that we live in a society that’s heavily reliant on mobile technology, mobile app development has seen a boom over the last few years. As smartphones get an upgrade with each brand’s release of their flagship device, apps become more advanced. They dish out more features that not only help users but also businesses to expand their operations through this platform. Apple has even trademarked the catchphrase “there’s an app for that” to let users know there is one that can actually help with just about any particular task.

iOS vs Android Apps Development

According to an App Annie report, the mobile app industry earned a whopping US$41.1 billion in gross annual revenue and according to Statista, it’s projected to hit US$101.1 billion by 2020. With the population of smartphone users growing each year, the market is far from saturated.

Internet on-the-go is clearly a necessity for many users, and there’s nowhere to go but up. More companies are starting to jump into the mobile app arena after regarding smartphones as a catalyst that can grow their business. The mobile app platform has become a channel to boost sales, increase brand awareness and deliver content through branded apps.

But how do you jump into the fray? Like all things technical, there’s a process you need to go through. Here’s how it currently goes:

 

  1. Choose an initial platform for the app

There are two giants that dominate the current smartphone market: Android and iOS. To find out which one has more users, a study by Gartner found that 87.8% of smartphones sold in Q3 of 2016 globally were Android. In contrast, Apple only had 11.5%. While there is a huge difference, that doesn’t mean going for Android is the better choice.

 

  1. Test and get feedback

Once you’ve developed your app on your preferred platform, you will need to beta test it to an intended audience and collect feedback on how it works. During this process, you will know if everything about how the app is designed works perfectly. You will also find out if there are bugs you need to fix and improvements that would make your app better.

 

  1. Make iterations and expand features

After zeroing in on the bugs and identifying what you need to improve on, you can release new versions packed with all the new features. This is a continuous process; as your business improves, so does your app to deliver the best user experience you can offer.

 

  1. Build and release the app on the other platform

You will eventually be able to figure out how everything works on your initial operating system. The next step is to widen your reach, so your next move is to release your app on the other platform.

But for your initial development, testing, and optimization processes, you should be able to address the question: Which platform should you go for? Let’s weigh up the differences.

 

Android

The Pros: With its open-source software, Android offers app developers a low barrier of entry and allows the use of crowd-created frameworks and plugins. This results in a platform that’s more flexible, which gives developers the freedom to play around with their app’s features and functionalities. This kind of technical environment enables them to modify apps to make the necessary improvements.

As mentioned earlier, Android operating systems have a huge monopoly over the smartphone market. Although this makes Android look like the obvious first choice, there are many other factors that come into play.

The Cons: Although Android’s open-source nature is favorable for developers, it’s a double-edged sword. Android app development is more complex, taking more time to master. And while the OS covers a wide variety of devices and iterations, this benefit causes a large amount of fragmentation. This results in varied user experiences across all devices.

With its highly-fragmented platform, developers are faced with a real challenge as apps need to be optimized for various screen sizes and operating systems. This leads to a lot of compatibility and testing required, ultimately increasing development costs. For this reason, app development takes longer than those on iOS.

 

iOS

The Pros: iOS offers a more stable and exclusive platform for developers, making the apps easier to use. Apple designed it to be a closed platform, so the company can design all of their own hardware and software around it. This gives them the authority to impose strict guidelines, resulting to a quick and responsive platform where apps are designed well with less piracy involved.

Since 2016, over 25% of iOS developers earned over US$5,000 in monthly revenue, while only 16% of Android developers generated the same amount. And when it comes to monthly revenues earned by mobile operating systems, a Statista study estimates iOS earns US$8,100 on average per month, bumping Android to second place with US$4,900. But despite these numbers favoring iOS, a third of developers prefer Android.

Compared to the thousands of devices using Android, iOS runs on a mere 20 devices. And with both resolution and screen size playing a smaller role in the app development process, it’s quicker and easier. This results in significantly less device fragmentation.

To put things into perspective, developing an app compatible with three of the latest iOS version covers about 97% of all iOS users. This makes it a fitting choice for first-timers in app development.

The Cons: Due to its restrictive nature, developer guidelines offer a fixed set of tools to build an app, making customization limited. And with the frameworks used to build an app, many of them licensed, development costs could increase.

Additionally, iOS is widely regarded as a more mature operating system than Android, with established rules and standards. These can make approval from the App Store more difficult, taking 4-5 days for an app to be granted one.

 

Cross-Platform App Development

The Pros: Essentially, cross-platform app development allows you to develop two apps---both for Android and iOS---at the same time. The tools you can use reduces the time and costs related to app development on both platforms. One of the most influential frameworks currently out there is React Native.

React Native is the brainchild of Facebook with the goal of having a framework for smooth and easy cross-platform mobile development. This means no more creating apps separately for Android and iOS. All it takes is one codebase and you’ll be able to create awesome apps that work on both platforms without compromising user experience or interface.

Since cross-platform app development has a ‘write once, run everywhere’ approach, it greatly reduces costs and development time. This means there is no need to learn multiple technologies; all you need is to master a few and you can set things in motion. Initial deployment for your app will move along much faster due to its single codebase nature.

Additionally, any changes needed to be done on the app can be implemented simultaneously without making separate changes on each platform. In terms of business, it’s ideal to develop cross-platform apps to reach a wider audience, which would ultimately lead to higher revenues.

The Cons: Compared to Android and iOS, cross-platform apps do not perfectly integrate into their target operating systems. This results in some apps failing to perform at an optimal level due to erratic communication between cross-platform code and the device’s Android or iOS components. This may also result in failure when it comes to delivering optimized user experiences.

 

Conclusion

Your choice will entirely depend on your business goals and budget. Each of these platforms has its strengths and weaknesses, but to help you decide, you should know what’s going to work for your business. After careful consideration of your costing, the time of release, and the reach/target audience you’re aiming for, you may have a clearer picture as to where you would want to build your app.

 

Looking for a pro to help with your mobile app development project? Contact our seasoned experts at Intelligent Bee to learn what we can do for your business!


Software Development Outsourcing Mistakes

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Outsourcing Software Development

It’s true that every business process takes time to learn, execute, and grasp—but they are essential steps, nonetheless, and thus should be meticulously done to keep the company going.

Software Development Outsourcing Mistakes

However, it’s also true that all businesses aim to be the best in their industry and to achieve that, they need to focus more time and effort in the activities in which they intend to be experts. When you become the best in the field, you become more globally competitive, giving you an edge against other companies.

But that would mean abandoning other activities which may still be necessary. To solve this dilemma, outsourcing some businesses processes can help, especially with things like IT-related tasks. Outsourcing software development and other functions will allow you to focus your resources on your area of expertise, so you can have more time to modernize offerings, give better customer service, and increase profits.

Rising demand for software developers makes this a more competitive playing field, so it helps to know the best practices to take:

 

The Selection Process

Now that you’ve decided to get into outsourcing, it’s time to find the right partner. Keep in mind that not all software development services are created equal, so you need to be on the lookout for considerations that fit your needs. Due diligence can make or break the quality of the software, not to mention your business relationship with your third-party service provider.

Some factors to consider include:

  • Location and distance of the outsourced company
  • Experience and qualifications—including communication skills
  • Technical expertise
  • Cultural considerations
  • Rates
  • Legal, physical, and technical protection

 

Costly Mistakes When Outsourcing Software Development

 

  • Not doing market research

Before even attempting to outsource software development, do a bit of market research. Understand the hurdle that you want your solutions to overcome, then find the market for service providers that address said hurdle.

Identify what solutions your competitors are using. Look at some of the more successful brands in your industry. What are they offering? How do they execute their strategies? Don’t worry too much about the negative perception with copying your competitors’ strategies because without market research, you will fail even if your idea is original.

 

  • Poor selection process

As mentioned, a thorough selection process can help you find the best service provider. In essence, not considering the factors (perhaps, just choosing one because it’s cheap) is a recipe for disaster. Conduct research and analysis on your prospects, including cost-based and non-cost-based factors, operating model, and get an understanding of how the market functions.

You can also check reviews and feedbacks from previous customers, read their portfolio, website, blog posts, and social media accounts, or learn their company values and culture.

 

  • Unclear requirements and vision

Without details of the project, your outsourced team won’t be able to work on anything, and things can get worse if your details are incomplete. You first need to know exactly you want to create to form the idea and implement it through the software.

Along with a vision for the project, you need to have a plan on how to see it through. More importantly, communicate it clearly to the team—everyone from both sides must have a deep understanding of the project and should ask any questions if anything is unclear.

 

  • Putting hourly rate ahead of everything

Rates will always be a consideration when it comes to outsourcing, but the problem occurs when hourly rates become the main determinant when choosing a team. What many businesses don’t realize is that, in the long run, they could be spending much more on fixing the mistakes made by their badly-picked team. However, it’s also true that high hourly rates don’t guarantee high-quality work.

Instead, pay attention to the hourly rate but don’t consider it as the most critical consideration, as low prices don’t guarantee savings. Have a range of hourly rates that you’re happy to work with, filter the potential candidates by this factor, and then continue checking for other necessary elements.

 

  • Resisting knowledge of modern trends

There are a few reasons why some software development teams are not able to keep up with the newest techniques or trends in their industry. The problem lies when your work requires those modern ways to come into play. However, it’s also never a good indication when an outsourced company fails to learn new solutions to obstacles using the latest technology trends.

 

  • Ignorance of cultural differences

This often happens when the outsourced company is located abroad, or a country that is not of your own. Even if there’s no language barrier (as long as both parties speak proper English), discrepancies between cultures will always be evident, whether it’s through the gestures, speaking intonations, traditions, and customs.

When not appropriately handled, differences may cause communication breakdowns and process inefficiencies. Therefore, it’s also important to get acquainted with your partner’s cultural norms and orient your own staff about them.

 

  • Not considering the difference in time zone

Another problem that may arise when getting a partner abroad is the difference in time zones. Communication is essential when working with an outsourced company to ensure that the process is going smoothly. However, a difference in working hours may be a problem when progress gets halted due to delays that are the main consequences of different work schedules.

Despite this, there are ways to stay productive and keep the work going. May it be adjusting schedules as necessary or overlapping work hours to give both parties a chance to align, you need to sidestep this hurdle and work with this time zone difference in the best way possible (if applicable).

 

  • Poor communication

Contrary to what you may think, having a partner in a different country isn’t the only root cause of poor communication between teams. After all, there are tools like email and instant messaging that can make remote staffing work. It’s merely because, for some reason, there are teams who refuse to collaborate or stay informed about what’s going on.

Utilize multiple channels, so you have a backup just in case one doesn’t work. Make sure to respond promptly when questions or concerns are raised. Having regular meetings to keep the teams up to speed about any problems or what needs to be done next is also important. Orient the team, as well, on how to appropriately respond to emails or messages.

 

  • Not hiring your own in-house developer

You may have a solid team of software developers as partners, but who will supervise their work? This is where an expert can help you. Someone who has at least some degree of knowledge in software development can look after the quality and aptness of work. This employee can also set clear-cut requirements for the outsourced team to follow.

 

  • Not considering security and protection

Privacy is essential when it comes to many things, including software development. Different countries have different legal systems; therefore, it’s likely that when you get a partner from abroad, you are not automatically bound by the same intellectual property rules.

Before you hire an offshore vendor and trust them with potentially sensitive information, pay close attention to the contract management. Have a legal expert on staff so you can properly set a non-disclosure agreement with all areas clearly defined to protect your project as your intellectual property.

 

Get Outsourcing Right

In general, the right outsourcing company is one that is equally motivated as you are because you share the same vision, especially if your requirements are bespoke in nature. Having a working partner also entails building and maintaining a good relationship. After all, you’re basically working toward the same goal, and it’s a lot easier to meet the objectives when working in harmony.

 

Looking for an outsourced software provider to enhance your business' IT capabilities? Look no further than your expert team at Intelligent Bee!