The road to IT sourcing nirvana is full of potholes, not to mention the ravines on either side, should you stray from the straight and narrow.
Some well-chosen safety barriers are a good idea, especially for CIOs who don’t yet have strategies in place to work with external providers, either when putting an agreement in place or on a continuing basis thereafter.
Outsourcing IT is often done with the goals of making an enterprise more competitive, reducing operational costs, accessing suitable skillsets, or a combination of these items. The key aspect to keep in mind is that both the enterprise looking to outsource and provider offering its outsourced services must fit together.
The enterprise should not have to bend itself out of shape to accommodate a service provider, or vice versa. While there is often some flexibility, anything that forces either party to “act out of character” is likely to strain or break the relationship.
Four basic steps to getting IT outsourcing right are then:
- Make the business goals of the enterprise clear. Not only that, connect them to the services to be provided and make sure the services and the relationship can adapt to future changes in business objectives.
- Set reasonable expectations about the outsourcing. Getting something for nothing is typically an unreasonable expectation. Getting outsourcing for a lower price than using internal resources may also be an unreasonable expectation, depending on circumstances.
- Make a sensible and suitable contract. Contracts have to suit both parties from the beginning and should avoid unexpected expenses afterwards.
- Actively manage the IT outsourcing. “Set it and forget it” is a risky policy at best and a disaster at worst. While outsourcing is designed to offload IT effort, a designated member of the enterprise must be responsible for regular communications, assessment, and (if necessary) remediation concerning the outsourcing provider.
While you may still strike a few potholes as you go your IT outsourcing route, these four steps should at least help you to avoid plunging into any abyss of serious IT outsourcing failure.