Some departments are easy to outsource. Accounting is accounting no matter where you go. There are a few particulars with how your pay bands are set up and such, but from a practical standpoint, the basic functionality is largely the same from one company to the next. The same cannot be said of IT.
You may have custom applications that have been built over a number of years that simply do not exist anywhere outside the confines of your company. If that is the case, then it may be all but impossible for you to fully outsource your IT, though you may be able to shed major parts of it. If you’re serious about doing so, here’s what you need to be on the lookout for:
Before you outsource, you need to have a firm handle on exactly what IT functionality you’re moving off site. Are you just farming your data storage out “into the Cloud?” If so, then you’ll be looking for a very different company than say, if you’re outsourcing your help desk. The very first order of business then, is to understand what’s staying in house, and what isn’t, and to find a company with a solid reputation for meeting those particular needs.
The owners of small and medium sized business tend to travel in the same circles. If you’ve got friends in the industry you meet with regularly, find out what they’re doing with regards to outsourcing IT, and get some solid recommendations. There’s little value in leaping into untested waters if you can get a good recommendation from someone who has already made the leap, and if your fellow business owner is seeing good results with a certain company, then there’s little downside to your following suit. Just as individuals trust their friends to give them good recommendations, so too should you trust your business friends in that regard.
It’s not enough to simply get a recommendation or maybe find a brand name you recognize that handles the IT functions you’re looking to outsource. In addition to that, you need to be doing some basic legwork. That means finding out a bit about the management team that will be doing the work for you. Here, LinkedIn is your best friend, as the managers and most of those who work under them will probably be there. Find out about them, read up on them. Once you start the ball rolling, it’s not impossible to change its direction, but it gets progressively more difficult, the more momentum it gains.
Face to Face Meetings
Don’t be content to just look at the paper CV of the people you’re outsourcing to. You wouldn’t, in most cases, hire an employee strictly on the basis of a casual recommendation and a glance at his resume. You’d want to interview that person to find out if there was a match. To see firsthand what that person knew and didn’t know. To assess them face to face. It should be no different when selecting a company to outsource to. You’re handing a critical piece of your business off to the company you select. That’s important enough to warrant a formal interview, in fact you will probably want to have a series of getting to know you meetings to make sure that the fit is good on both sides.
After all is said and done, most of the time it is much easier to actually simply hire IT rather than outsource it, especially when you need someone in your office at those special times when an entire network fails to work. Having someone in your timezone on your side never hurts the customer support side of things.