Continuing on with a series of blogs on UC and managed services, Elizabeth Klingseisen is back with a blog discussing critical success factors for outsourcing.
Three factors are crucial in making outsourcing a success: smart sourcing, due diligence and strategic risk partnerships.
With pressure still on both the top and bottom line, IT professionals are finding it harder than ever to walk the tightrope of operational efficiency versus building for growth. But despite continuing economic challenges, the world of IT innovation has proved fertile ground over the past few years with growing momentum and maturity around solutions such as cloud computing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) and unified communications.
To easily access these solutions, an increasing number of organizations are looking towards outsourcing and out-tasking. Out-tasking is popular with IT departments, because it is able to make an immediate and tangible impact on cost reduction. Whereas many other technology promises wander into the murky waters of 'productivity gains', out-tasking elements of service provision and technology change (at an agreed, recurring cost) does stand out as a true, measurable beacon for cost reduction and transparency.
But it's not just about cost. Outsourcing and out-tasking also offers significant strategic advantage by helping organizations fund their technology transformation, access the right skills and keep the core of their operation agile. While there are many factors involved making outsourcing a success, experience has shown three factors – smart sourcing, diligence and 'risk collaboration' – can make the difference between success and failure.
- 1. Smart-sourcing
Smart-sourcing means looking beyond single IT outsourcing agreements towards out-tasking either 'towers' within your IT enterprise (i.e., communications) or functions within general operations where it makes most sense (i.e., service desks or network monitoring). Out-tasking offers key fundamental advantages over outsourcing; it allows you to test the validity of your business case on a lower risk basis and retain a stronger mix of strategic and operational control in your operation.
- 2. Be diligent in your diligence
An understanding of what you have in your network, where it is and exactly how much it costs to support can be difficult to pinpoint with accuracy. It's important to test the claim of a provider that claims to magically achieve a full understanding of what you may have struggled to achieve. What is their process for diligence and auditing? What is the typical cycle? What are the timeframes for different site profiles? What tools do they use? And most importantly – what happens when their findings are not accurate or are vastly different to yours? Who validates and how? The bottom line here is that if you get the audit wrong, you'll run into challenges further down-stream.
- 3. Collaborating on risk
This is where the difference between providers really starts to materialize. Within this strategic partnership you are considering, there are some key questions to consider. Who's responsible for system uptime? Do you have an explicit plan for demarcation of responsibility and resolution? But so much more importantly, when things do go wrong, what is the providers answer beyond 'service credits'? What will they do to ensure system recovery and where have they done it before? And lastly, what is your provider prepared to put into contract to underscore their commitment to de-risking your continuity and quality of service?
Elizabeth Klingseisen is director, managed services marketing at Siemens Enterprise Communications.