Outsourcing: Not a Dirty Word

 In Outsourcing

Let’s face it: the word outsourcing–contracting with partners to provide services outside of your core expertise–can often have a negative connotation.

For many, outsourcing implies a cold, impersonal transition from tenured, in-house employees to distant or temporary individuals who don’t fully understand your business and aren’t as invested in your overall success as your own employees would be. Some believe outsourced IT is used just to lower costs, not to add value or build business.

But what if your outsourcing partner was neither distant nor impersonal? What if that partner was local, strategic and worked full-time at your location on a long-term basis as an integral part of your culture, as if they were your employees? In this case, you could achieve the benefits of outsourcing, including getting the depth of knowledge, operational best practices and, most importantly, the safety in numbers that comes from working with a trusted institution (versus hiring individual employees), without the detached, impersonal aspects of outsourcing.

For those with between 50 to 500 computers, companies can have difficulty finding and retaining talented IT employees in the Chicago market, where the unemployment rate for certified IT professionals, specifically, is under 4 percent.

Trust is also a very important issue because your IT department, by definition, is entrusted with your sensitive and mission-critical information, often with nobody else in the organization to gauge whether they are doing a good job–until it’s too late.

Further, unlike very large organizations that can afford to staff a wide variety of specialists, mid-size shops must settle for generalists who can address most issues, but cannot be expert in all aspects of IT.

In order to make IT a competitive advantage, three levels of expertise are necessary: Courteous, on-site technicians who can handle day-to-day operational issues

A wide variety of high-end experts who can assist with major projects and problems

CIO-level services to make sure the IT strategy aligns with business goals

By hiring your own internal staff, you may be able to achieve any two of these, but typically not all three. In contrast, by working with a local, trusted IT outsourcing company, you can not only excel at all three areas of IT, you get the comfort of having individuals who live, work and act like your employees, along with the benefit of having several experts who are familiar with your environment and can help at any time.

Your trusted outsourcing partner can also use industry best practices to both save and make you money. For example, personnel costs are only part of an IT budget. Maintenance and support agreements, hardware, licensing and other vendor contracts can often be optimized in ways that are not apparent to employees who are only familiar with your organization.

Since we manage IT budgets for every customer we serve, we bring unique market intelligence to help our customers save money and avoid some costs altogether. For example, we helped a local municipality save more than $65,000 per year on printer and copier costs by comparing their costs with other contracts we manage and re-bidding those services. For another manufacturing client, we were able to avoid nearly $40,000 per year on unnecessary maintenance and consulting services.

IT outsourcing doesn’t have to mean opening your organization to a cold outsider who doesn’t focus on your business. Outsourcing can provide a wealth of experience, extra hands-on assistance and tested best practices for your organization’s advantage.

What are your fears about outsourcing IT?

-Mike DeGroot

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