For all its usefulness and cost-saving potential, IT outsourcing is still surrounded by all manner of myths, legends and cautionary tales. Here we debunk seven of the common myths to show how outsourcing can help your business use IT to achieve more with less.
1. Outsourced means abroad
The rush for outsourced services in many sectors meant that many jobs were shipped to locations abroad where employment costs are much lower. The language barrier and perceived poor performance of these foreign services leave many people and businesses wary of using outsourcing themselves.
‘Initially a lot of people did view the overseas call centres as taking British jobs and didn’t like it, but the fact they often do not get a good service is the issue now.’ Claudia Hathaway, Call Centre Focus.
‘Dealing with staff outside the UK emerged as the number one annoyance for the British when they contact call centres and encounter a problem.’ Institute of Customer Service.
But outsourcing simply means making someone else responsible for operating aspects of your business. And that service provider could still be located in the UK, immediately avoiding language issues.
2. Outsourcing costs more in the long-term
Over the course of an outsourcing agreement, it is perfectly possible that businesses will spend many thousands of pounds maintaining their IT services. However to suggest that the contract costs more than employing in-house staff to perform the same duties is incorrect.
Even employing a single member of staff to control IT staff will cost tens of thousands of pounds each year in salary, employer National Insurance contributions, plus a workplace pension and training. If your IT systems are more complicated, you will need more staff, meaning even greater expenditure. Using outsourced IT support services you get all the benefits of a complete team of IT experts without the associated employment costs.
3. Outsourced means ‘locked in’
The fear of being unable to leave an IT support services agreement makes many businesses wary of signing up. The assumption is that once IT support has been devolved, it is then impossible to claw back IT services in the event of a problem.
However when negotiating a support contract, your business can always discuss the potential for leaving and ensure that caveats allow for such a move. Support contracts are there to benefit your business as well as the provider’s, so you always have the right to include such exit clauses.
4. Outsourced means out of your control
There is a common confusion between responsibility and control when it comes to outsourcing, with many businesses assuming that they cede control of their IT to the service provider. The truth is that although your IT support provider can suggest strategies and improvements, your business retains overall decision-making control regarding how your business uses and implements computer services. In the meantime, your service provider will support your strategy, rather than define it.
‘Strategic alliances do not need to be financial alliances but can mean suppliers and their clients planning together.’ BG Srinivas, head of European services at Infosys.
5. Outsourced means out-of-sight, out-of-mind
Because outsourced IT support is often performed remotely, it is easy to think that the service provider is doing nothing in between reports of issues. However a good IT support service provider will be spending time proactively maintaining systems to ensure that they are running in peak condition.
If in doubt, ask your service provider for activity reports that show the behind-the-scenes work taking place. You may be surprised that the out-of-sight approach is often a good thing, as engineers work to prevent issues that may otherwise require them to come onsite to fix, entailing disruption and downtime.
6. Outsourcing is ‘all or nothing’
Sometimes businesses only need to outsource a small portion of their IT support, such as smaller remote offices. Rather than obtain support for all of their IT, these companies prefer to pick and choose the service they need. As long as outsourcing of certain IT tasks supports your wider IT strategy, there is no reason not to adopt a piecemeal approach to contracted-out services.
The good news is that there is no reason that an IT support provider cannot accommodate such a request. If a provider is unwilling to take on aspects of your IT system and software support, they are probably not the right partner for you.
7. Outsourcing is just for big businesses
Often, outsourcing contracts are discussed in terms of millions of pounds, suggesting that outsourcing is a luxury affordable by only the largest of businesses. The fact remains however that any business can benefit from outsourcing regardless of their size.
Small businesses will find guaranteed IT support is far cheaper than trying to resolve computer issues in-house. Larger businesses can make similar savings, often spending less than it would cost to hire one dedicated member of IT staff. At the same time, businesses benefit from an IT system that runs well and is customised to meet their operational demands, providing further added value to any support contract.
There are all manner of myths surrounding IT outsourcing that have sprung out of poor experiences, badly managed contracts or even ignorance. However, you should remember that:
· Outsourcing does not mean offshoring – you can outsource IT support to British-based businesses.
· Outsourcing IT costs less than maintaining systems in-house when contracts are negotiated properly.
· Well-negotiated contracts provide your business with escape clauses in the event of irreconcilable differences.
· Your business sets the IT strategy, not the service provider.
· Ask IT support providers for evidence of their behind-the-scenes activity to keep tabs on proactive maintenance tasks.
· Outsourcing can be done on a piecemeal basis with great success.
· Outsourcing works for business of all sizes.
To find out more about outsourcing IT, visit the Ubertas website.