Outsourcing as a Solution for Overworked, Understaffed IT Departments
3 min read
With web technology dominating many areas of business today, companies are finding it difficult to continue supporting their office with their internal IT staff. As the technological side of a business grows, companies need to decide whether they want to expand their current IT department or consider outsourcing their IT needs to another company. Increasingly, many companies are moving towards outsourced IT labor as a cost-effective and efficient solution.
The IT Requirements of Companies Are Growing Rapidly
Companies in all sectors are now relying more on web applications , cloud-based platforms, mobile apps and other forms of advanced technology to manage their daily business. Even small companies are inundated with technology in the form of sales acquisition suites, customer relationship management products and enterprise resource planning solutions. This has extended into all industries and has led to the proliferation of overworked and understaffed IT teams.
While previously companies could operate with a single IT professional or even without an IT professional, many businesses today would be lost without constant support for their web applications. They need a SQL Server DBA one day and an ASP.Net web application expert the next day. IT personnel find themselves constantly in demand and a lack of adequate personnel can quickly lead to issues with a company's efficiency and productivity.
Where Outsourced IT Labor Fits In
IT departments can be outsourced with minimal difficulty on the company's part. Traditionally, outsourcing is done when a company contracts with an outside IT firm. The outsourcing company will usually bill hourly based on how long requested tasks take to complete. Other IT companies may work on a retainer basis or on a fixed price project basis. However fixed price projects usually require an exceptionally detailed project specification detailing exactly what is to be built. This in itself can be a lengthy task and is often done on an hourly basis prior to the fixed price quote. You can liken this to the time you will spend with a building architect defining the rooms, materials and methods of construction prior to having the builder give you a quote for a house. A house can’t be quoted without a blueprint. The same goes for a software application (see: How Planning a Software Project is Like Building a House).
IT outsourcing companies usually have staff located in countries that have lower rates of pay but high standards for education and technical proficiency. The staff in the outsourcing company will usually connect remotely to computers, servers and clients to provide support. Use of GoToMeeting and Skype for communication and project meetings is common. Some IT outsourcing companies operate domestically and have physical locations and points of contact for their clients. This scenario gives the best of both worlds. That is, American innovation and project oversight combined with lower overseas billing rates for the majority of the labor gives the client an exceptional level of quality and value at an unbeatable price.
Why Outsourcing Can Be Preferable to IT Expansion
Companies choose outsourcing over expansion of their internal IT department for a variety of reasons. Outsourcing to an outside IT company allows a business to immediately tap into an extensive selection of staff members that have specialty expertise in different areas. Businesses may need a SQL Server expert one day and a mobile UI professional the next, and these might not be skill sets that can be found within a single dedicated IT professional. Just like the medical profession there is now a proliferation of IT specialties.
Outsourcing is usually much less expensive than a dedicated IT department because the business only needs to pay for the time the outsourced professional actually spends on their work. Moreover, outsourcing usually allows a business to leverage less expensive rates found in the global economy. Outsourcing has also become more popular as the level of technology has increased, such that outsourced professionals in other areas of the world can now perform virtually all of the tasks that in-house professionals can.
Companies that employ outsourcing find that the solution is extremely scalable. When launching products or testing new systems, the company can hire more labor through their outsourcing team. They can scale up to meet a tight deadline then scale back to do ongoing maintenance. The day-to-day operations of the company can be rendered extremely affordable because the client will only need to have the outsourced company working as needed rather than actively servicing their account.
When IT Outsourcing is the Answer
IT outsourcing is usually beneficial when a company's IT requirements can be met by remote workers and when the company has unique or very specific IT needs. The better defined the project is the more suitable it is for an outsourced team. Companies that have highly variable IT needs will find that outsourcing offers them the support they require along with reduced costs. Outsourcing can also be beneficial for companies that are expecting expansion and need a scalable and cost-effective solution.
So in your evaluation of how to get from point A to point B in reaching your organization’s goals, give outsourcing a serious consideration. It just may be the difference between getting that software system you need today versus waiting until next year. Ask the question “What’s the value of having it now versus waiting and how will that affect your bottom line?”