Monday, January 19, 2009

Reasons to outsource your IT department?

My searches picked up a blog about reasons to outsource your IT department. I don’t have a problem with the not-so-surprising revelation that the writer of the blog supplies out-sourcing services (Heck … I blog and I also provide consulting services… its all part of marketing yourself) but I was disappointed in the level of arguments he provided:
  1. Cut Employee Costs – OK so you can retrench your full-time IT staff but who do you then use to liaise with the external service provider? You either completely trust your new external IT department to look after your own organization’s bottom line or you allocate one of your other managers to deal with them. If that manager is not fully IT-literate (remember you’ve just sacked all of your regular IT staff) then how do you verify what the service provider wants to do?

    You want us to pay $10,000 to replace all of the server magnetos and then reboot the network cables… well, I guess you guys are the experts.

    This strategy might work if you are a small (<10 employee) company and you have a great long-term relationship with a trusted supplier but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as the first engagement you have with a new service provider. You need to maintain sufficient internal IT staff to “keep the bastards honest”.

  2. Benefit from Expanded Knowledge Base- C'mon now - you don’t need to outsource your entire IT department in order to gain knowledge from external consultants. Remember that all service providers (myself included) want to sell you a service and its quite OK to pick our brains for free now and again. Of course, if you do it too often without tossing the occasional chocolate frog the other way then you’ll destroy a beautiful relationship, but in this era of Wikis and on-line discussion Forums there’s no need to stay locked in your own technical tower. Cruise the internet for a while and tell the consultants they can either play the game your way or you’ll go and talk to their competition.

  3. Buying in Bulk Really Does Save - Using terminology like “…you don’t have to overpay an underproductive employee” is an unwarranted slur against your staff for their personal work habits and your management ability in not keeping them productive. Surely there are better ways to get your point across than descending to that kind of marketing.

  4. Remote Technology Cuts Time and Expense – Wow! These guys are really getting stuck into the negative marketing tactics. Suggesting that your own IT employees are incapable of using remote access technology is insulting to them and to you.

  5. After-Hours Accessibility- I’ve never met a system administrator that saw their job as nine to five on Monday to Friday. So if your IT person works on Saturday then give them Monday off. That’s not rocket science.

Bonus: Supplement your IT- Now you’re talking! This should have been your headline with all that guff about outsourcing as your secondary point. It does make sense for a business to have a friendly IT person at the end of a phone ready to and help when needed, but why buy the cow when all you want is the occasional steak?

P.S. “Bastard” is quite acceptable terminology in Australia eg “You lucky bastard”, “Where has that bastard gone” or “Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”. I realize that some UK readers may have a problem with the word but this is an Australian blog and when in Rome …


Gavin Bollard said...

Actually, I think one of the biggest reasons to not trash your existing IT department is the fact that outsourcing companies are there to service your "here and now" needs.

They usually don't know diddly-squat (can we use that word on an aussie blog?) about IT Strategy.

For example; they'll happily service your current Domino platform (on say Release 4.5) without even mentioning that we're up to 8.5. Onboard staff however will usually hassle the business to keep themselves on a "supported" platform and version.

Christian Tillmanns said...

Im with you here.
There are several mistakes one can make when trying to outsource.
You should only outsource when your companie runs very good. Not in a crisis. Studies have shown, that desperately trying to save money normaly ends up with higher IT cost. A lot of good reasons there.
My own experience shows, that outsourcing Domino does not make sense. It just runs. And with Foundations you can have the best of the two world, your own stuff and outside staff.