03 Apr 2018

Strategic outsourcing: Ask questions, do your homework

When IT outsourcing began to really gather steam some 20 years ago, the business case revolved around the ability for organisations to offload onerous, often-manual, non-mission critical activities to a third party, thereby essentially saving on labour costs.

But as today’s technology landscape has shifted to one defined by digital technologies like mobile, the cloud and big data, the business of outsourcing has evolved to be more about helping organisations not only manage complexity, but to drive innovation and improved business outcomes.

As digital technologies, platforms and tools continue to evolve, companies need to be more agile in their response to new trends and market developments if they are to satisfy more demanding and fickle customers, and to maintain their competitiveness in more crowded markets.

For example, many companies are seeking help to design and build mobile applications for driving better engagement and higher sales to customers, along with apps that need to be deployed – as well as tweaked and revised – in real time. Likewise, networking and communications, as well as compute and storage, all need to be made with moving parts to respond to changing conditions and challenges.

Partnering for success

Just as technology is now a key component of any organisation’s business strategy, the choice of technology outsourcing partner needs to be treated seriously.
Whereas the role of technology outsourcers used to be simply taking control of largely perfunctory and onerous tasks and then receding quietly into the background, today’s most effective outsourcers take an active role as strategic partners – to help drive innovation, growth and success for their customers.
An effective outsourcing partner will leverage its relationships with key vendors gaining customers access to specialist expertise, not to mention better prices and other benefits.
But it’s important that companies conduct their own checks to confirm whether their provider actually has all of the requisite certifications and partner accreditations.
Any service provider can claim to be a top-tier outsourcer, but there are a few tangible things to look out for to determine whether your outsourcing partner is suitably mature and has a proper framework to give your business the attention and support it needs.

 

  1. Do they provide a fully supported 24/7 service desk with tiered support levels?
  2. Have they invested in a best in class ticket management system?
  3. Is their support structure aligned with any industry proven frameworks such as ITL?
  4. Do they employ mature problem management processes where they are tracking related service issues that can give them indications of a bigger problem across a number of users?
  5. Do they have mature change management processes in place, whereby proposed changes go through the necessary approval procedures with full notification to all stakeholders, with minimal disruption of existing operations?
  6. How tight are the support Service Level Agreements (SLAs)? Do they match the responsiveness that your teams and systems need to work to their full potential?
  7. Are there defined processes if an SLA is breached and how well do they support your team?
  8. How many of the service team’s processes are automatic, saving time and resources for all parties involved?

All of these attributes speak to the challenges of managing far more dispersed, mobile and data-heavy technology ecosystems that need to be able to quickly adapt and evolve to new market conditions.

Digital grunt-work

Helping to illustrate how the outsourcing industry has changed over the past 20 years, is the transition from the notion of ‘labour’ as being largely hands-on and manual, to now being largely about so-called ‘digital’ labour.

The spectacular and ever-growing volumes of data being generated by organisations, their customers and ‘digital-things’ is creating opportunities to better understand processes, thinking and motivations right across the business value chain.

And as enterprises look to reap the cost savings and other benefits accruing from automation, they are increasingly looking for help from their outsourcing partners.

Automation not only provides increased efficiencies, but also brings proactive capabilities to deal with issues before they become business-impacting events, which adds significant value to enterprises beyond the typical cost reduction opportunities.

Service providers with the right technologies and data science skills can help achieve these insights a lot faster and for less cost due to better economies of scale.

Enduring orthodoxies

Which is not to say that the original tenets of IT outsourcing have gone out the window. IT managers should still value their outsourcing partner for releasing them from the more onerous and repetitive IT functions, freeing them up to be more creative and innovative in creating real business value.

But as the need for speed continues to guide businesses’ digital strategies, having an outsourcing partner that understands your company, its processes and operations can be an invaluable asset.

Operating in Australia for more than 20 years, Brennan IT has supported many organisations on their journeys towards driving business value and success pairing the latest technologies with the best engineering talent.

Call us today to find out how outsourcing to Brennan IT lets you spend less time putting out fires and more time growing your business, while gaining a valued partner to help with strategy and planning for the future.

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