For a growing business there comes a time when you should consider leveraging technology to fuel your growth. And that is when the benefits of outsourcing can help you achieve your growth goals.
Nowhere is outsourcing more prevalent than in the world of IT. The underlying principle of outsourcing is to engage a third-party provider who is a specialist, able to perform a particular task better, faster and cheaper than you could. Leaving you time to focus on the core tasks of growing your business.
If as a business you are spending a disproportionate amount of time and money to manage for example “non-core” functions, then it could be a good time to consider outsourcing for the sake of efficiency and productivity.
From cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to tech support and computer hardware, there is an overwhelming wave of new technologies and specialists to leverage that can help businesses grow.
What you need to know before you outsource
Firstly, outsourcing is often confused with the term "offshore". Outsourcing refers to using a supplier that may be local or based in another country to provide a specialist product or service. On the other hand, "offshoring" refers to companies based in another country contracted to supply products and services, normally for the sake of short term cost savings.
A second problem is that outsourcing is often interpreted negatively, as veiled management speak for ‘job cuts’. Perceived as a quick way to cut costs under the appearance of employing third-party experts with a view to improving operational efficiencies.
Implementing an outsourcing programme on a large scale may initially disrupt operations as it takes time to get underway, and for staff to get on-board and see the value that is generated.
By outsourcing, companies can free up resources and divert that energy to new or existing projects that deliver higher yields. A good example of the dramatic impact of outsourcing is a company like Apple. They do not make any of it's own products. It has outsourced production to third party companies which has allowed Apple to focus on what it does best, design and user experience.
Companies might find, too, that they can streamline or shorten their production times because the third-party suppliers are quicker at executing the outsourced tasks that they are experts in.
And with regards IT, not many small businesses can afford to hire their very own in-house IT experts with specialist competencies, especially if they are just starting out. So, outsourcing provides access to the same level of support and cutting edge technology that larger competitors may already have.
Finding the right IT partner to outsource with
1. Cost versus quality
While cost is always a consideration, you should not select a vendor on price alone.
And while cost needs to be a part of the decision making process, it’s importance to consider the reputation of your IT provider. Pick a partner that is adaptable and listens to your needs and provides customer references.
2. Security and compliance requirements
You should know exactly what you require from a security and compliance standpoint, and ensure that the IT service provider can comply. Reliability and security are essential to any business, as any loss of data or a period of server downtime could impact a business financially and negatively impact trust.
3. Technology planning
You need to be able to share your IT planning with your vendor to discuss collaboration on projects, and how they can adapt to your needs. For example can your IT partner scale with your planned growth in locations and transaction volume, are they proactive to your needs rather than reacting when problems occur?
4. IT service integration with third parties
Organisations have started to look now for efficient ways to outsource the management of their supplier environments to both coordinate and manage IT services from their own internal resources and external third-party vendors.
Find a vendor that understands your most valuable asset - your staff. Avoid friction with your own employees by selecting a third party supplier that understands your work culture, and wants to make a difference to your business with a positive working environment.
6. Strategic partner vs. order taker
How do you want your service provider to support you? Do you want a strategic partner with deep expertise across a number of IT areas that can enable your business strategies, or do you want a vendor to just execute actions?
What level of IT support do you need?
To help you decide on the level of IT support that your business might need, we have listed below some hints on the areas that can be covered:
- General day-to-day technology and IT support
- Cybersecurity and data backup
- Database support
- Data centre hosting
- Disaster recovery
And if you want a more strategic relationship with your vendor, your outsourced IT needs could include:
- Computer hardware solutions
- IT infrastructure audits
- IT training
- On-site support and technology advice
- Advice from a virtual CTO
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