How IT Outsourcing helps your company and IT Manager
Most organisations have considered outsourcing defined business functions. Candidates include legal services, HR and usually IT.
The usual motivation for considering moving to Managed IT Support is that of financial pressure. IT Heads are being asked to reduce IT support costs and at the same time to do more. This is in the face of an increasingly complex ICT environment needing a much broader and deeper range of skills than were required in the past.
One particular issue currently is the need to provide external clients, customers, suppliers and general browsers with access to a range of online portals via the Internet. Internal users are also clamouring to be able to access internal systems from any location at any time. At the same time, auditors and other oversight bodies are asking increasingly searching questions about the ability of the business to maintain as near 100% availability of IT services as possible. Business continuity is a hot platform, particularly where loss of IT services could put a business at risk.
The first benefit of outsourcing is that it has the potential to remove quite a few of the day to day background noise issues from the IT Manager’s plate, making them the responsibility of Outsourced IT Support. There is therefore more time to concentrate on the strategic issues. Perhaps these will include business continuity planning, intellectual property management, data security, 24/7/365 location independent application portals, integration with social media. All matters that need to be dealt with.
The IT manager has a range of options when considering outsourcing. It can be in whole or in part, or on a project by project basis. It is an unresolved debate as to the better approach, and probably hinges on individual circumstances.
There are benefits from each approach, bearing in mind that the ultimate goals are reductions in operational expenditure and mitigating project time and money risk, balanced against no drop in service levels.
Companies often put a toe in the water by testing outsourcing on a project by project basis. This usually involves the business retaining an On-Site Support team to manage core operations, and outsourcing development to an Outsourced IT Support company.
One advantage of keeping an internal IT team to provide On-Site Support is improved client satisfaction. This can be clearly seen as outsourced Support Centres often have a poor reputation, and clients much prefer speaking to a local and sometimes familiar body who understands the business. On the other hand, a project may take a little longer because the outsourced development staff need to familiarise themselves with the business requirement, and all project management is filtered through the Outsourced Support organisation management. In cost terms, the advantage is that support and development costs are, by and large, fixed and developments can be planned according to budget availability.
Others take the exactly opposite approach and move to full outsourcing in whole or in part from the outset.
They outsource their core operational support services to an Outsourced IT Support company, and carry out developments themselves using a core development team. This allows management to concentrate on development, rather than managing the background noise of day-to-day operations. In addition, having development project teams made up of in-house staff who know the business means that they can become more productive more quickly, and can be managed directly by the business itself. In cost terms, the major benefit is having a fixed cost for day to day operational support and paying for specialist skills only for as long as you need them.
Everything is outsourced to an Outsourced IT Support company. Recently this has become part of a move to a Cloud Computing strategy. As the organisation moves to the cloud environment a public or private cloud support service provider takes over the infrastructure, staff and operations from the business, implements a cloud environment and runs it as a Managed IT Support service.
If the business is not moving to a cloud environment, then the Managed IT Support service takes over the running of the IT service under an outsourcing contract and Service Level Agreement.
The advantage of this approach is that IT management can concentrate on strategy and development and not be distracted by day-to-day operations. From a cost perspective costs are largely fixed, and IT management have a much better understanding of the budget available to deploy new and improved services.
The imponderable, in this case, is whether to move to the Managed IT Support Service infrastructure or to ask them to operate the existing systems on the existing infrastructure. If the company operates an infrastructure that needs to be upgraded, they may be able to avoid capital expenditure on new equipment and software by moving to the Outsourced IT Support organisation’s infrastructure, in effect moving to a cloud infrastructure.
The benefits of outsourcing are both qualitative and quantitative. A properly constructed outsourcing agreement, properly managed, can reduce the costs of an IT installation without sacrificing service levels and future growth.