The fundamentals of outsourcing

The economic slowdown has seen organisations worldwide taking a leaner approach to their IT operations, in some instances it is estimated, cutting staff by as much as 17%

June 29, 2010

The economic slowdown has seen organisations worldwide taking a leaner approach to their IT operations, in some instances it is estimated, cutting staff by as much as 17%.

This has also resulted in a re-evaluation of what really drives the organisation; therefore, what are the core functions that IT should focus on to, in turn, ensure that organisations continue to do what they do best – run strong businesses.

Leaner IT departments have driven most organisations to implement an outsourcing strategy which calls on third party ICT experts to ensure that the organisations core business is not compromised in its efforts to run a tighter ship.

Mardia van der Walt-Korsten, Managing Director of T-Systems South Africa says “Traditional in-house organisations are now increasingly assessing whether they should selectively outsource day-to-day monitoring and management to cut back on expenditure and take advantage of the stable operational expenses that come with an outsourced provider.”

“Moreover, some organisations now believe they should outsource their key operational functions to an industry specialist that will ensure that the infrastructure runs smoothly ensuring, in turn, improved delivery and efficiency based on emerging technologies.”

In this light, what should organisations consider when deciding to take the outsourced route, particularly those that have been traditional in-house shops?  In a time where most are still reeling from the economic recession, how does one make the right decision that will ensure that your outsourcing choices benefit your organisation in the short and long-term?

For one, it is important that you choose carefully what functions will remain in-house and what should be outsourced.  “Outsourcing your IT functions is a consideration that should not be taken lightly.  It is therefore important that you know your business; understand your corporate and market strategy and how your IT resource can support it in the most effective and efficient manner,” explains van der Walt-Korsten.

The next step would be forge a strong partnership; this essentially entails a two-pronged approach; choose your supplier wisely and afterwards continue to work at the relationship to ensure that outsourcing is really a win-win for all parties concerned.  Don’t become complacent, economic conditions continue to change and so should the infrastructure that supports it.

“Nurture the relationship to ensure that you and your outsourced partner have the same end goal in mind.  Your outsourcer should enhance your business, backed by the ability to deliver on time and on budget.  Also, you should never be in a position where you are managing your partner at a low level, this is counterproductive and effectively mitigates your decision to outsource some of your IT functions,” she adds.

Another important factor to consider is reliability.  It is absolutely crucial that business benefits are achieved through reliable technology that performs in a stable and business conducive manner.

“Technology reliability is core fundamental in any successful business.  Not only does it underscore strong governance and risk mitigation efforts but hones an environment where both parties are confident in their ability to deliver services in a competitive manner.

“As an outsourcing provider your service should begin and end with technology reliability; predictable performance and outputs are essential for the effective behaviour of the IT environment as a whole,” comments van der Walt-Korsten.

From an organisational perspective you should set your outsourcing parameters for reliability from the get-go.  These should be realistic and meet user expectations; unachievable parameters can become prohibitively expensive and immeasurable.

Consistency and stability also go hand in hand with reliability.  “IT outsourcers build their reputations on the security and stability of their services.  Therefore, opt for an established provider that will have confidence in his potential to provide a stable platform.

“This said, continue to work closely with your outsourced partner to ensure that your own, unique requirements are met,” she says.

Looking at the future, IT continues to face an uncertain fate and resultant challenges, be it a sophisticated virus or even conflict and overlaps between applications.  “Your outsourcing partnership should weather storms of uncertainty, based on a foundation of technology reliability and a strengthening and complimentary relationship,” concludes van der Walt-Korsten.