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Updated by Charles Bystock on 09/28/2023
factory IT support

Regardless of the product you’re producing or the volume at which you produce it, every manufacturer knows cost optimization is key. A few pennies can add up to millions of dollars annually, either in extra costs or bottom-line profits, depending on who captures these seemingly nominal costs. And while it’s easy to think about cost optimization in terms of manufactured units, this philosophy also applies to other aspects of operations, such as IT support.

Manufacturing IT can be a pricey department, but like all aspects of production, there are opportunities to identify and control extraneous costs. Often, it starts by looking at the fundamental nature of your approach to IT support: on-site IT vs. outsourced IT.

Cost optimization through scalable solutions

The first and most important factor to consider in IT cost management is the scale of your digital systems — and how large you expect them to grow in the future. Although it might make sense to have a sole in-house IT manager overseeing a few sensor modules and some data streams, this individual can be quickly overwhelmed by even one major IT investment.

To complicate matters, it’s not easy to simply hire more IT techs. Even if you can hire to support a specific aspect of IT infrastructure growth, you’re only staffing a static solution for elastic capacity. What if your IT demands are 1,200 hours for setup and orchestration but drop to a measly 20 hours a month in support? When you consider wages, training, onboarding, and benefits, the cost of support quickly outpaces the value of the investment.

On the other hand, outsourced IT offers much-needed scalability. Outsourcing to a partner means gaining the ability to be flexible with staffing according to demand. Moreover, businesses are only responsible for usage fees — not hiring and firing. This allows them to align the cost of support with the scope of their investment to generate ROI instead of accruing technical debt.

outsourced IT

As-needed access to efficiency and expertise

The old adage of “you get what you pay for” rings especially true in manufacturing. High-level expertise doesn’t come cheap, and producers must ensure they’re investing in talent equipped to meet expectations.

Outsourced IT provides manufacturers with expertise correlated to their specific digitization and data management needs. From hardware setup and software integration to data science and cybersecurity analysis, there’s a 1:1 pairing of ability to application for success in any situation. Furthermore, these skills and abilities are available on an as-needed basis, which significantly tamps down the cost of acquiring their skill set.

On-demand access to professionals also creates efficiency through flexibility. Where in-house IT staff might get pulled in a dozen different directions, outsourced teams have project-oriented objectives to keep them on track and delivering benefits. An IT outsourcing service can provide maintenance, updates, and upgrades while eliminating the need to self-manage. In the meantime, in-house staff is allowed to focus on core business functions, increasing overall efficiency.

Avoiding costly downtime

Downtime is a four-letter word in any manufacturing environment and must be avoided at all costs. As mission-critical manufacturing systems are increasingly digitized, preventing downtime becomes a function of safeguarding network uptime. This demands access to IT professionals who can work quickly to minimize or avoid downtime events.

The major benefit of having a team of IT experts is the ability to address issues before they cause downtime. While in-house staff might be quick to jump on system errors or network disruptions, outsourced IT can often do a better job of preventing them altogether. Through updates and upgrades, improved support processes, automation and AIOps, and trend monitoring, outsourced IT services provide a proactive approach to system maintenance and support, helping ensure critical IT systems are always available and functioning optimally.

From a cost perspective, the average cost of downtime across all industries has historically been about $5,600 per minute, according to Pingdom. Juxtapose this against the cost of a monthly IT service-level agreement (SLA), and there’s no doubt about the cost savings.

Outsourcing as a means to better cost control

For manufacturers, outsourcing IT isn’t just about getting the expertise needed to facilitate digital transformation — it’s about justifying the cost of responsible IT support. More often than not, outsourced IT is the fulcrum to balance costs and benefits.

By offering a scalable solution encompassing specific expertise at the desired capability, outsourcing IT allows companies to focus on core business functions, reduce downtime, and save money. Critical systems run as expected without upending the all-important cost controls manufacturers work so hard to put in place.

Learn more about the cost savings of outsourced IT at