For many growing companies, outsourcing non-core functions to specialists delivers substantial advantages, including reduced cost, access to improved expertise, the ability to scale resources up and down to suit changing requirements and disaster recovery planning. These are among the good reasons for IT outsourcing. But when making the decision to outsource, make sure you get the best deal by looking out for these 5 common pitfalls.
1. Read the contract (and know the exclusions)
This advice is so obvious it almost seems trite – but it nevertheless rings true for everything from insurance policies to outsource deals. In particular, focus on what is covered in your support agreement – and also what isn’t. Finding out at the last minute that an essential component or service isn’t covered could cost extra. Worse still, it could mean business interruption. Consider involving your legal representative in a review of the contract before signing.
2. Is training part of the deal?
Business rarely stands still. Not only will people come and go, but many companies will be seeking growth. As you add new staff members to the roster, it may be necessary to train them up on the systems and services used to power your operations. Know whether or not training for new people is included as part of the deal. A good IT support provider should demonstrate understanding of this issue and have appropriate measures to smoothly cope with changing requirements.
If business is dynamic, so is the IT industry – and that means upgrades are occasionally necessary, not only as part of scheduled refreshes, but also to take advantage of new developments where they can add value to your business. Make sure your IT services contract has a clear policy on how any upgrades will be handled from a support perspective. Beware of hidden upgrade penalties.
4. Know who is responsible for what
The advantages of outsourcing should include reduced workloads for in-house teams and improved IT service performance. That’s if it is done right. Poorly delivered services can cause a spike in management overhead for your team, who could end up using valuable time and resources to manage the outsource service provider. Perform regular efficiency appraisals to be sure delivery matches the value promised in the sales pitch.
5. Beware the reactive quick fix
Putting out (virtual) fires is a sure sign of an outsource IT contractor which isn’t up to the task. Things should get better, rather than worse after outsourcing. Your selected provider should demonstrate appropriate IT Service Management tools, with appropriate systems and protocols in place to anticipate problems before they occur. Look for evidence of root cause analysis, established service level agreements against key services, and ask about reference clients for peace of mind.
Outsourced IT has proven popular for a wide range of companies which recognise the value of bringing in dedicated specialists to help get optimum value from technology investments. When you make the move, be sure to choose a partner which takes the time to understand your needs - and provides IT support which lets you focus on business, not technology.