Arlington CIS MSP Dallas/Fort Worth

Functional IT Support vs Technical IT Support for SMBs

What’s the difference?

Before determining on whether you should outsource your managed IT services and support or keep it in-house, you need to determine what you want/need from your Information Technology (IT) department. We have broken this need down into two broad categories: Functional Support and Technical Support.

While probably not mainstream technical terms, these two categories usually help people understand what type of technical support they want from an IT department and team.

What is Functional IT  Support?

In general, a managed IT services team provides functional support to guide the specific use of specific applications. Functional IT support configures systems according to business needs and helps develop processes to manage the day-to-day functioning of a program or system.


  • Ensuing proper interfaces between different platforms and/or applications to enable data transfer between them;
    • Example: for manufacturing and distribution business – ensuring system is set up to push sales orders to production orders to packing orders to shipping orders, and tying SO’s and delivery receipts to invoicing
  • Helping employees use applications
    • A clerk does not know how to process an order
    • Provide help to employees to enhance learning curve in the case of software of system updates
  • A VP thinks the overall process to communicate an order from sales to production is inefficient and/or ineffective; in response the IT support function helps define strategy and IT changes to resolve inefficiencies and deficiencies.
  • Provide strategic support to management for aligning IT strategy with business strategy

Personnel providing functional support should possess demonstrated competence with support of specific applications.  Advanced functional IT support also requires strategy development skills and experience.

What is Technical IT Support?

In contrast, an IT support service team provides technical support for issues related to computer network infrastructure.

Examples of Technical IT Support:

Network Administration Support

  • Network Infrastructure Analysis – this helps the business managers make informed decisions on network infrastructure investments
  • Implementation of Network Infrastructure Changes – monitor installation of new or reconfigured computing hardware
  • Translating the Functional Requirements into Technical Specifications – ensuring the system works as designed to help meet business objectives
  • Updating or installing new applications
  • Maintaining user authorization lists
  • Resolving internet connectivity problems
  • Establishing and maintaining authentication and authorization protocols
  • Setting up cybersecurity systems and monitoring cybersecurity system health
  • Managing backup and disaster recovery systems

End User Support

  • Helping employees resolve problems accessing applications or network
    • Can’t login
    • Can’t print
  • Help staff find an archived copy of a file

Personnel providing Technical IT Support need to possess demonstrated network administration skills.

Resourcing Options for Functional and Technical IT Support

While the number and types of applications that require functional support vary widely, the infrastructure technical support (while still complex) tends to have much more commonality across many companies. However, both functional IT support service and technical IT support service help enhance business efficiency and profitability.

The significance of these categories is that many times IT personnel tend to migrate to a career path that embraces one of the categories or the other….but generally not both. This trend is because the volume of knowledge for each path is quite large and constantly changing.

The decision to in-source versus outsource tends to be easier to understand if each of these categories (and sometimes skill sets within each category) is considered independently. Management should also carefully consider the volume and complexity of each category when selecting the necessary IT support resource.

Once you determine if functional or technical support fits your needs, the next step is understanding the different managed IT models: full outsource, full in source, and hybrid (i.e., both in-source and outsourcing of various components).

Have any questions? Please contact us online or call 817-640-0016.

CIS has two locations in Arlington and Addison, and serves all of the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Contact Us today to learn more about how our solutions can work best for your business.
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