Is a patch panel necessary?

I am NOT an I.T. professional. Just clarifying if I misspeak on something. The question is, if I have a 48 port switch that is not full and I have neatly combed out homeruns to the ports that are supported through said switch, do I need a patch panel? What is the function of a patch panel if I can neatly run my 37 currently used CAT5's dirrectly into the switch? I only "manage" our I.T. and our outsourced I.T. professionals are telling me that it's "best practice" to use a patch panel but I am failing to see the point. Anyone have a good explanation for this???
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  1. This explains it pretty well

    This is based on if there is "real" in-wall wiring setup and not just regular CAT5 cables strung about.
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