Outsourcing has some negative, some might say sinister, undertones.
The bad PR around IT outsourcing stems from the idea of asset-stripping corporate accountants who care less about nurturing the culture within a team, or the quality of its product, than feeling great about moving figures around on a balance sheet.
That’s part of the reason for writing this blog. IT outsourcing represents a host of valuable opportunities for IT leaders, not just a way of saving cost or accounting for it in a different way. Despite this, some still regard it as a threat to their work, or even their personal livelihoods.
So here are three reasons why IT outsourcing shouldn’t just be a cost-cutting consideration.
1. The value that IT processes create is worthy of investment
Many IT leaders and line-of-business managers alike make the mistake of pigeon-holing outsourcing as a means to save money. The number one result of this is to overlook the potential of new IT perspectives and skills to drive value into the business.
The thinking here is that outsourcing the task of - for example - making sure all the plants in the office are watered, is alright because it’s so simple. Moreover, if it goes wrong then there isn’t a big impact. Deciding to outsource a significant IT project - on the other hand - is much more complicated to do, and can have big ramifications if something goes wrong.
Taking too conservative an approach to your IT strategy might eliminate the risks of failure, but will ensure it fails to take full advantage of available IT potential.
2. A pure cost-cutting mentality will always risk compromising quality
The ‘service provider’ that waters your plants earned their gig by resolving to meet minimum standards at a lower cost than any other reputable provider. Apply this to IT - or any other business function - and it stands to reason that the only way to reduce costs further is to reduce quality.
Thinking about outsourcing opportunities with a cost-cutting mindset is going to take the quality and strategic value of your IT in the opposite direction. It means being more likely to miss expertise that might make the difference to your business. And the IT leader suspicious of single-minded accountants is more likely to start acting like one.
3. Failing to outsource can mean failing to focus
All organisations can boil down their purpose to a simple sentence, like the bakery that says “We’re all about making great bread every day.” It reflects the importance of focusing on a core competency. The bakery doesn’t exist in order to perfect its supply chain management software, or be really good at running a fleet of company cars for its executives. It does whatever it takes to make its mission a reality.
IT outsourcing can be employed as both a strategic and a tactical weapon to make an organisation better at what it does. If you believe in technology as a business enabler, then harnessing outsourcing for the right reasons, at the right time, for the right purpose, can be a very fast and effective way of bringing about positive change.
IT outsourcing represents more than the chance to save money. Getting external parties involved in an IT project - in full or in part - could be your next worthwhile investment in the value you need. And if that represents a fresh perspective, just think of the new opportunities it might bring too.
As IT becomes more dynamic in response to business demands, and businesses place digital transformation at the heart of their futures, IT outsourcing will have many different roles to play.