It would be hard to argue that an IT professional’s time is best spent helping someone recover their network password. That’s why desktop support is one of the IT functions that’s increasingly being outsourced. But the area where outsourcing is really taking off is IT security.
“That could mean patching firewalls, assisting with data recovery, implementing a larger data organizing system,” says Michael Hadley, President and CEO of iCorps Technologies. “There are more vulnerabilities, more threats, more devices to secure now than ever.”
Smart companies are finding the right outsourcing to in-house balance. This might mean handing off network security and cloud optimization to vendors and focusing on growing the business in-house. But first, it pays to consider the benefits and drawbacks of IT outsourcing.
Cost savings. Outsourced services are usually cheaper than hiring staff. That’s especially true for companies whose managed service provider helps them use their budget to prevent security threats instead of respond to them, Hadley says.
Around-the-clock coverage. Many outsourcing firms offer 24/7 service, and time zone differences can actually be an advantage. “Imagine an IT manager needs to get a server configured or tested. The manager can request the task right before he or she leaves for the day, and expect the server to be up and running by the time they come into work the next morning,” says Mike Holandez, author of “Service Desk Superhero.”
Filling skills gaps. This is a big one. Because IT emcompasses so many functions — technical support, maintaining hardware, data storage, security—it would be near impossible, or at least very expensive, for one IT department to cover all the bases. Instead of hiring for every role, companies can take advantage of “a deep bench of experts who are best suited for the job,” Hadley says.
Increased competitiveness. Outsourcing helps companies be more efficient and agile. Access to cutting-edge technology can help companies of all sizes overcome budget or time constraints. And it lets IT staff or business owners focus on business goals that might otherwise get back-burnered.
Hidden fees. Think of this as the cable TV rule. The monthly fee sounds pretty good until you start adding in the features you actually want. With IT outsourcing, it pays to make sure the price you’re quoted covers the services you need or the extra charges could add up quickly, Holandez says.
Slow turnaround time. Time zone differences have a downside, too. If the subject matter expert you need to respond to a question lives halfway around the world, they’re probably asleep while you’re working, Holandez says. Even without a time difference, an outsourced contact might not respond as quickly as in-house staff.
Lack of familiarity. An outsourced firm won’t know all the nuances of your company’s technology and business needs. That can lead to making the wrong assumption on a service incident or choosing the wrong solution for an issue, Holandez says. That doesn’t mean you have to accept it. “Find an IT provider who caters to your industry and that shouldn’t be a problem,” Hadley says.
Lack of coordination. Some companies use outsourced IT as a patchwork for their internal team. That scenario can work well, but someone needs to be in charge. “You need an IT leader to make sure the team is being productive and to avoid redundancy,” Hadley says. Consider maintaining a point person in-house to manage the outsourced employees.
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