Helpful Facts to Choose an IT Employee

Jan. 1, 2019
An Information Technologies expert from Mitchell breaks down each side to the debate of whether to hire an IT employee or hire an IT consultant.

For a small shop or a big shop, the thought might have crossed your mind: Should I outsource my IT department or keep it in-house?

With evolving vehicle technology and the advent of computer systems into the repair of the vehicle, technology is an essential part of the process. The first revolution was back in the ’80s and ’90s when shops moved away from paper estimating to computerized estimating. Today, shops are moving away from the desktops that were used to tablets or other portable devices, says Kelly Shortreed, senior manager of sales engineering for Mitchell.

“Computers used to be considered an afterthought and now people are investing and budgeting for that,” Shortreed says.

Shortreed has witnessed shops struggling to keep up with the demand of this new mobile workforce and properly using a strong WiFi connection. Shortreed works with Mitchell International’s implementation team and spends roughly a few days per month in shops, helping set up repair facilities with Mitchell’s software and products, he says.

Recently, more cars on the market are connected cars. According to the Mitchell Industry Trends Report, connected cars are made more prevalent by sensors and computers within the vehicle. It is such a hot topic in the industry that the insurance industry will have a Connected Claims Summit USA in June 2019.

The debate is riddled with variables from cost of the employees to the availability of the IT expert. Shortreed discusses each side of the argument and lays out the pros and cons for both.

“In the past, I’ve seen more shops using someone in house but I think they are getting away with that and shifting to hiring an outsourced IT firm to do it for them,” Shortreed says.

As told to Melissa Steinken

In-House IT

An in-house IT person might cost the shop a full-time salary but the potential cost of a ransomware attack could cost smaller businesses around $700,000 per incident, according to Tech Transformers and Acronis. Businesses could also lose 5 days without productivity or being able to do business.


  • The “obvious” pro to working with someone exclusively for your shop is to have their undivided attention to IT problems.

  • The consultant can become more familiar with the shop’s software and technology because the person would be able to spend time at the shop for long periods of time.

  • Since the person is on site, he or she has the capability to respond quickly to problems and thus, problems might get resolved quicker.


  • A person on site could end up costing the shop more money. If the employee is considered a paid salary employee, then the cost could be high for a small shop.

  • There are additional problems to trying to get help from another job role in the company. Even if the estimator is good with computers, that does not mean the estimator can safely fix IT issues. Typically, someone already on staff that says they can do the job only knows about personal computer issues and might not know details about networking, in which computer, server, mainframe, etc networks share data with each other through data links.

Outsourced IT:


  • An outside company might be able to invest more time and money into following the technology updates. For example, WiFi has become increasingly more complex and more vehicles are entering the shop on different wireless networks. A shop might think they’re remote but, in reality, they could have 20 or more wireless devices just sitting on the shop floor.

  • A lot of IT professional consulting businesses have the means to offer consultation 24/7.  When the outside company is sharing that cost among a handful of businesses, it is cheaper.

  • For larger shops, outsourcing might provide a better solution for owners that don’t feel qualified to interview candidates for a full-time position. Outsourcing also allows the owner to switch to another company more easily if he or she is not happy with the service that is provided.


  • Based on my personal experience, outside consultants take longer to respond to problems. Often, the response time is half a day to a couple of days. They’re generally slower but there are exceptions to every case.

  • While both in-house and outsourced professionals would place safeguards on the networks, an owner should take into consideration that an outsourced professional would be placing security, virus and malware protections on the shop’s system.

  • It depends on the person that is hired but if a shop owner is charged per incident, he or she will have a harder time budgeting for that expense. The shop owner might be inclined then to not call for minor issues and that can lead to bigger problems and larger expenses later on.

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