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23 Sep 2016

Key Factors in the Right Outsourcing Decision

Technology knows no boundaries – you can outsource your IT support to anywhere in the World with cheap as chips options through to the all singing, all dancing service. However, what we are seeing is a number of SMEs looking to outsource their IT to local companies that can provide quick and efficient IT support, cost effectively. If a company is going to rely on an IT service provider for a critical part of its business, it wants to have comfort that the supplier is nearby to support it.

Technology has already enabled us to do more in the same time, automating processes and giving us a better understanding of our businesses. Many applications are now very intuitive and more people are feeling confident installing and using apps on mobiles. However, what sits behind applications on an IT system still requires IT expertise and knowledge to make sure it is installed, configured, managed and supported correctly; Therefore you still need IT skilled people who know your business, the way you work and your systems.

If you are engaged with an independent contractor, employ an IT person or even a number of people to support your IT in-house, have you considered and planned for the following:

  • What happens as your business grows? Will you recruit more people or training the existing team? What skills will you need and how will you manage the IT team?
  • Technology is evolving quickly which means your IT team’s skills need to be refreshed. Have you factored this into your costs?
  • Do the skills you have in one or two people cover everything your business needs?
  • Sickness and holiday cover can be difficult to plan and cater for. How do you manage these without losing the levels of support you require and without it costing more money? How much time do you have available to manage people? Do you experience delays in fixing IT issues when you are short staffed? How does this affect your business?
  • Recruitment time – with good IT people in demand, it is often a struggle for SMEs to find IT staff with the essential level of qualifications to deliver the role and the experience to back this up. How much time do you spend searching for the right people and are you confident you are finding the right talent?

Considering an outsourced solution can alleviate the problems above. However, you still need to make sure the IT provider delivers a service that meets your expectations, is transparent on aspects such as price and has the ability to deliver what has been agreed.

We believe there is so much more to an IT service than just implementing the IT and keeping it operational. If you do decide to outsource, there are 5 additional factors that you want to make sure your IT service provider can deliver:

Optimised Knowledge & Expertise

Having a pool of talent means IT providers can assign the right people to the task/problem and resolve it in optimum time. Delivering to a number of clients, you are only paying for them during the time they are assigned to you. The knowledge of your IT system doesn’t leave when your employee does – the knowledge is managed across a number of the engineers so that departures, sickness and holiday can be covered seamlessly.

Make sure they have people, not just one person, who understands your business and your IT systems.

Greater Agility

Working across a number of client’s means that it is highly likely an engineer has managed your type of request before and can solve it quickly. Team this with the technical ability to ‘log in’ to your computer remotely (with your permission) means that the engineer can respond quickly to your needs even if they aren’t in your office. Sometimes the engineer will need to come to you, so consider any supplier’s location and therefore response time to being called out. When urgent problems arise, you want them to be with you as quickly as possible!

Make sure you will be well looked after and get a responsive service.

Security Focus

Cyber attacks are rife and this problem isn’t going away. Whilst your IT people are security aware, are they specialists and do they have the time to keep up to date with the latest security challenges and update your systems with the latest patches as soon as they receive them? IT security naturally sits within the IT remit, but make sure your IT provider has IT security specialists. This is a vital aspect for any business nowadays and security specialists can come with a high price, so again, benefit from an outsourced model, pay for what you use, not a whole person who you have to manage.

Make sure the provider does have IT security specialists in the business who can make recommendations to protect your business and knowledgably help you should you face a cyber attack.

Greater Flexibility

It is very likely for any successful company that its business requirements are going to change and evolve. This can be anything from new people, new systems or new offices. Whatever the situation, you need to be able to flex up or down easily. An outsourcing model enables businesses to be responsive to change with ease. Tell the IT provider what you want to achieve so they can make sure IT is going to support the change whilst you focus on your buisiness.

Talk to the provider and find out how they work with their existing clients and how they manage change – see if any immediate changes can be built into the contract.

More Transparency

To build your confidence with your IT provider, you need complete transparency on costs, delivery and planning with every stage communicated to you clearly and timely; so you know what is going on without having to decipher technical jargon. If you know what is being planned and that it is being delivered, you will have confidence in your IT and comfort that you have control over an area you are fully dependent on.

You can plan your business budget more effectively knowing the monthly cost of your IT is managed and controlled. Make sure your provider has a reporting plan in place to keep you updated on how your IT is being managed.

Get to know your supplier

If you think outsourcing could be the answer, we often suggest that businesses engage a supplier for a small project or even part outsource an IT function so they can get to know them, be happy with the work they do to help get the confidence that the provider is the right IT partner for them.  Any supplier needs to build trust with a client and we believe this is a useful way to build successful relationships.

When you go out to market to look at options, we can’t reiterate enough the benefit of a local provider. Problems with IT can always arise and you need someone nearby who can respond and fix the problems quickly when an office visit is required.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please do get in touch and call us on 01727 843888 or email us at blog@assign-it.co.uk

 

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