Ten secrets to successful IT outsourcing

By: Simon Belfield

Date: 11 March 2014

Ten secrets to successful IT outsourcing/Handing over a baton{{}}There are lots of arguments for outsourcing some or all of your company IT.

In particular, it’s impossible to be an expert in everything if you run a small business. That’s why so many firms rely on an external IT support firm to take care of their computer systems.

If you’re considering a similar route, here are ten secrets to successfully outsourcing your business IT.

1. Know what it is you’re looking for

The first thing to consider is what, exactly, you want the outsourcing provider to deliver.

Thinking about this will enable you to approach outsourcing firms that are best suited to your needs. If you have any uncertainty about what you want from an outsourcing provider, speaking to a consultant and asking contacts for recommendations can help narrow the search.

2. Find a partner, not just a provider

You’ll get more out of your outsourcing provider when you feel the business relationship is a true partnership.

This is why it’s important to work with a company that sees you as more than just another number among their clients.

One question to consider is whether or not the outsourcing provider is working to the same business objectives you are.

3. Make sure they understand your needs

Being sure that a provider truly understands the needs of your company is essential. Any good supplier will spend time getting to know your business. The best may even try to understand your own customers before signing a contract.

Look at how much time suppliers are willing to dedicate to learning about your business before you sign the contract. This extra care shows the supplier wants things to get things off to a good start.

4. Check they have relevant experience

Experience is key to successful outsourcing. After all, you’ll be entrusting something of great importance to another organisation. For peace of mind, you need to know your partner has walked this path before.

One of the main aims of outsourcing is to make savings by using the provider’s expertise. In the IT industry, for example, outsourcing providers boast computing expertise unlikely to be found in most offices.

Evaluate case studies, check client lists and accreditations to understand what experience a supplier has in your industry.

5. Make sure you understand the contract

The contract is a pivotal part of any outsourcing agreement, so it is very important to make sure you fully understand and agree with its terms.

Good providers will be happy to tailor their contract to fit the needs of your business to ensure you get what you really want from the arrangement.

See a sample contract for IT support >>

6. Check their security credentials

When you outsource business functions, you’re placing responsibility for important processes in the hands of others. You may also be giving them access to confidential data.

Check both the security accreditations and reputations of any outsourcing companies you’re considering.

Your contract with them should also specify exactly how they will handle and protect your data, and what will happen to it if you cancel the contract in future.

7. Get the flexibility you need

For outsourcing providers, flexibility is an attractive selling point. Most businesses need a service that fits around their needs.

Think about this carefully when evaluating providers. For instance, do you need out-of-hours cover for your company IT? If your business has growth targets, will your outsourcing provider be able to handle an increase in work?

8. Decide if ‘local’ matters to you

The location of an outsourcing company can be very important from a practical perspective.

Depending on what you are outsourcing, it may be important for potential suppliers to be located nearby, so they can serve your company properly.

9. Evaluate all the costs

Usually, price is an important consideration when choosing an outsourcing provider.

However, don’t get caught up in the headline figures. The financial aspects of outsourcing are detailed and nuanced.

For instance: what happens if your company is acquired? How often do your systems or equipment need to be updated to remain effective? What will it cost you if you need to change the contract?

Always obtain detailed, itemised quotes so you know exactly what’s covered.

10. You need to click with the people

As with any aspect of a business, the people — and their personalities — have a huge role to play in outsourcing.

It is really important that your people get on well with the people in the outsourcing firm — especially the account managers you’ll be dealing with regularly.

The cliché that 'people buy from people' is key to a good relationship. You’re much more likely to succeed when there a strong rapport between the individual employees.

This is a post from Esteem Systems, a specialist managed services provider for IT infrastructures.

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