Editor’s note: Tim Finnegan is program director of TotalCare IT Solutions, which is a business practice at Alphanumeric Systems in Raleigh.

– Recently, a local insurance company lost three members of their IT team over a 2 month period due to unexpected turnover. The Chief Information Officer had a problem to solve – and needed to do it quickly. Who would look after their servers and network as well as help employees through technological issues?

After weighing their options on how to fill the void, the CIO did what so many other Triangle companies are choosing to do: Instead of rehiring for the position, they are selectively outsourcing components of their day-to-day IT management.

Fifty-eight percent of IT workers are looking for new jobs, according to a 2006 eWeek study. With so much turnover, the decision to outsource certain IT management functions to managed service providers (MSP) is much more common than it was just a couple of short years ago.

Small and medium sized businesses find that by delegating day-to-day technology functions to an MSP, they improve their bottom lines and customer service levels. When outsourcing to providers that give around-the-clock support, companies get full-time help at a fraction of the cost that it takes to maintain a full-time employee. Suddenly, expenditures like health insurance, benefits, supplies and other costs associated with full-time employees disappear.

This does not mean that all companies are getting rid of their IT departments completely. Some organizations keep a few, senior-level IT workers and allow them to focus on strategic company projects like business application support and customer facing initiatives that are supported by technology instead of handling repetitive and mundane tasks like troubleshooting issues with users’ desktops and company printers, installing patches or making mandatory software updates.

Managed service providers are handling these mundane, routine and time-consuming tasks instead. So the next time employees experience a problem or need assistance, instead of dialing the extension of the IT department for help, they simply dial the number to the help desk of their technology partner.

It might take some getting used to for employees to deal with an IT professional remotely, but companies are finding that they can develop relationships with help desk engineers.

“When we first outsourced our IT, I was a little nervous that I would have to deal with long waiting periods before someone helped me, or that the engineers working remotely would not know our environment,” says a local IT Manager who uses an MSP. “But after working with our MSP, TotalCare IT Solutions, for months now, I feel like I know each one of the service engineers and they know me and our company’s IT environment as if they worked just across the hall. Turns out, if in the end your network is healthy and you get exceptional care, it really doesn’t matter where your IT professionals work.”

For many area businesses, there is an extra perk to working with MSPs. The newest, most-talked about service is called remote monitoring, which detects and corrects potential issues with servers, desktops, printers and other devices before they wreak havoc on the business. This keeps businesses on-task and operating at maximum productivity.