Businesses have been agonising over the pros and cons of outsourcing for years. In today’s competitive marketplaces, the consensus is that organisations need to run lean, and outsourcing, particularly among larger organisations, is becoming more prevalent across a range of disciplines. These include HR, finance and maintenance, to name just a few.
In particular, though, the notion of outsourcing the IT function has grown in popularity in step with the advent of cloud-based solutions.
What are the benefits of outsourcing IT?
Many businesses feel that outsourcing the responsibility for their key IT functions, including software development, support and maintenance to a recognised provider is an easy decision to make, delivering the following benefits:
Business owners need to leverage technology to drive their enterprises forward. Making the best use of digital transformation delivers competitive advantage, but requires investment. Outsourcing the underlying IT infrastructure, and even more importantly, the personnel needed to make use of it, means reduced salary costs and HR overheads.
- Top notch knowledge and skill
Whether an organisation has cutting edge IT infrastructure or something more modest, outsourcing IT provides access to engineers and technical staff that are specialists. They will have knowledge of all the latest methodologies and innovations to get the best from diverse IT systems. Essentially, businesses can draw on the experience their outsourcing partner has gained through its work with other clients.
What are the downsides?
Outsourcing has major benefits, but it is always wise to look at both sides of the coin. Outsourcing IT, usually means the service provider will implement its own system controls. This might lead to a feeling that the business is handing over the reins for one of its most business-critical functions. This is why it is so important to work with a professional provider to develop a successful partnership based on mutual trust.
Every business is concerned about security. After all, with the recent introduction of the GDPR, it is more important than ever to ensure confidential data is protected and is accessed on a “need to know” basis. Of course, this is a topic with which any good provider will be an expert. They should be able to provide reassurance that security will, if anything, be better with the systems under their management.
Some businesses are concerned that response times might be affected when they outsource IT. After all, there is no longer the comfort of the “IT guy” sitting at his desk across the office. In reality, this is seldom an issue. After all, even the best IT guy is unlikely to be around at 3AM on Christmas day – but most outsourced providers offer 24/7 remote support.
More pros than cons
Being aware of the cons is important, as it will ensure a business asks all the right questions. These include the following:
- What is, and just as importantly, is not included in the services?
- What are response times? Do they vary depending on urgency?
- What security processes are in place, and how are they controlled and audited?
- Are there additional services on offer?
- Does the provider have scalability capacity if the business grows?
In the final analysis, the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing the IT function vary according to the needs and nature of the business. The most important thing is to go into any outsourcing agreement with clearly defined and measurable business objectives, and with short, medium and long term goals that are understood and agreed by both parties.
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