IT outsourcing can bring huge potential to your company – but only with a well-thought-out, conscious strategy. As in any other industry, in IT outsourcing there are elements that carry the risk of failure. In order to prepare properly for implementation and take advantage of the benefits of outsourcing cooperation, be like a strategist who thinks a few moves ahead.

Be conscious

‘Outsourcing is about saving costs’. ‘I’ll hire a team of specialists and I won’t have to invest in office equipment’. Have you come across such statements? Do you agree with them? According to Deloitte data, in 43% of cases, it is not lower costs that are the key element of the outsourcing contract, but ensuring innovation by way of the outsourced team. To gain awareness in terms of the potential of outsourcing, you will need to recognize the market and be able to answer the following questions: ‘What is my business goal and what strategy do I want to adopt?’. Only the conscious customer will take full advantage of the benefits of IT outsourcing. It is risky to focus too much on costs and savings. Why? Being driven only by cost reduction, not quality and innovation in key areas of the company’s operations, may result in the loss of your advantage on the market.

Partner, not provider

You want to develop your business, so you are looking around. But who are you looking for? An IT provider fulfilling contractual obligations? Or maybe a trusted partner you can always count on? If you are only looking for a service provider and not an outsourcing partner – don’t do it, because nothing will come of it. Neglecting the role of cooperation in outsourcing carries the risk of a lack of flexibility in the project and worsening communication. Outsourcing without cooperation is like following a guide in the mountains who speaks a language you don’t know. Do you want to go all the way fearing that the guide does not know what you want to achieve? Isn’t it better if both sides understand each other well and can consider changing direction at any time together?

Read also: IT Managed Services – advanced services for business 

Bet on security

Security in outsourcing is yet another element associated with risk. Is all that really true? It is generally believed that leaving the IT field ‘at home’ minimizes all the risks associated with cybersecurity, but it is the use of the services of an external provider that really gives access to specialized knowledge in the field of security. Outsourcing companies have worked out security procedures, gained know-how and multi-industry experience thanks to cooperation with various business sectors. There is also the aspect of data security – the Data Protection Officer (DPO) should be on your side. It is worth taking a broader view of data security, taking into account not only the protection of personal data in the context of the GDPR, but also the threats to restricted data, such as hacker attacks or malware. The combined forces of yourself and your IT partner give you the chance to develop best practices in terms of risk prevention.

Be aware of processes

Before you decide on outsourcing cooperation, familiarize yourself with the processes related to outsourcing. Lack of awareness in this area carries the risk of extending the duration of the project.

  • Consider project roles in advance. The Agile outsourcing model – which has been gaining popularity in recent years – helps to facilitate this process. In such a case, the Product Owner will be the person responsible for communicating requirements and delegating work on your side.
  • Think about what kind of communication with an outsourcing partner will be most suitable for you and how you want to make a knowledge transfer.
  • Are there any vague procedures or gaps in the knowledge that you want to pass on to your partner? How can you fill them in? All these aspects should be taken into consideration to ensure that the project starts off smoothly.
  • Also think about whether you have prepared your team to welcome people from outside the company. Suitable preparation, e.g. a meeting before the start of the project, minimizes the risk of it taking longer to ‘onboard’ the external company’s employees. Good preparation will result in greater efficiency.

Choose the right company

Let’s assume that you want to obtain key competences from a provider in the context of the functioning of your company. Example: you plan to move the infrastructure to the cloud and want to hire a DevOps team. It is worth doing preliminary research on the market to see that DevOps specialists and competences in this area are hardly accessible. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing and choosing the wrong company. Be careful if you come across a company that responds to any query with exaggerated enthusiasm, regardless of whether it has the respective specialists and experience. In fact, there may be a hidden desire to acquire a customer at all costs, thinking that ‘we will make it somehow’. A responsible and trusted partner will ask you about your needs and help to outline the right strategy, and will not avoid asking questions himself.

Scalability in outsourcing

IT outsourcing allows you to minimize the risk of losing key resources, but here it is worth considering the appropriate delegation of work between individuals on the partner’s side. It is good practice in the case of outsourcing projects to expand teams and entrust a larger scope of work to an IT partner with more specialists as our trust grows or the project evolves. It is better to start cooperation with a small team on the client’s side (2-3 people) or even use the help of one expert to see if outsourcing really works. After such an initial stage, many companies involve more specialists (often even from various outsourcing companies). This happens naturally as trust in external companies and specialists from outside the company increases.

IT outsourcing: take the reins and catch the wind in your sails

Last but not least, a key element for the success of the entire operation is proper management of the IT outsourcing process. The partner takes over certain processes and services, but the reins remain in your hands. Process management consists of three elements, which I have already mentioned above. When making a key decision for a company, you need to be sure that:

1) You are a conscious business partner and maintain control at every stage of the project,

2) You know the potential of your company and you are open to cooperation with an IT partner,

3) You know the market, its potential and limitations in the area you want to develop with the help of an outsourcing partner,

If you approach the whole process consciously, focusing on cooperation, the services of an outsourcing company will be like a breeze in your sails.

Summary

The benefits of outsourcing have been covered extensively, but what interests me professionally is the controlled risk of outsourcing and the awareness of the whole process. Perhaps, for some, they are the basics. However, I hope that by showing the objectively possible obstacles and ways to minimize risk in outsourcing, I was able to clear up all doubts. I hope that this knowledge will allow you to enter the market on a firmer footing and make a decision about the involvement of an external company. I have been working in an outsourcing company for many years now and I know that ‘a conscious customer’ and ‘partnership cooperation’ are the keys to success in the IT outsourcing process.

Author:
Maciej Smulczyk

At JCommerce, he is responsible for business development in Central Poland region. He has many years of consulting experience in educational, recruitment and outsourcing business processes. In his private life, he’s a fan of basketball, hockey and baseball from overseas.

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