How to Win the Outsourcing Game
Still reeling from the operational and emotional blow of major layoffs that began during the economy's downward spiral in 2008, many companies have yet to rebuild a fixed IT employee base. (And based on the current economic climate, plans still remain in flux.) Whether they are nursing the slowly healing wound from this downsizing, or are not in a financial position to hire IT employees, more companies are outsourcing local contractors to keep IT projects on track and remain competitive.
Outsourcing may have left a bad taste in the mouths of some small and medium-size businesses that have been stung by the IT outsourcing servicesthey've used to fill their IT voids. Some may have invested in expensive business services offered by behemoth technology companies-turned-consultants. Others may have had poor experiences with deploying call centers off-shored to India. Still others may have contracted ongoing services from third party firms.
"In this scenario, contractors may only be fulfilling 60 percent of field services and spending the other 40 percent of their time waiting on the next job ticket," said Bill Lucchini, COO of Lexington,Mass.-based OnForce, a provider and dispatcher of technology talent via a cloud-based solution. "They may have three free hours today, be completely booked tomorrow, and the next day only have an assignment in the afternoon."
To make outsourcing work and to gain IT stability throughout the enterprise, companies should consider services from local subcontractors. The key to success is getting the best localized expertise — not a contractor from a regional or national company — to fulfill a project. It is also important to pay by the project, not by the hour.
These two methods enable companies to have the best experts in every field at the time you need them. Italso delivers 100 percent utilization of the work force, and insulates the company from variable demands and shortages of work.
"By working with local contractors, companies can employ the services of local partners and invest in getting the job done correctly and efficiently versus paying for commuting time," Lucchini said.
For companies that are still unsure if outsourcing is the best move, the following list of tips can help you determine whether tapping local subcontractors is the right solution for your company:
- Focus on individual expertise. If you work with a larger company, you could get one expert today and another from a different region tomorrow. There is a higher rate of project utilization from a single contractor.
- Understand the future of your company. Hiring and downsizing are two expensive and emotional events for businesses and employees, alike. If there is any uncertainty where your business will be six or 12 months from now, subcontracting versus employing an in-house team may be a better IT strategy to sustain business operations in the short term.
- Have a clear way to measure success. Companies must have clear project structures that can be communicated to the independent contractor. Companies that are not structured in their expectations will only cause inefficient operations and waste capital.
"The economy is causing a shift across all businesses, and SMBs cannot ignore how these trends could impact their IT strategies," Lucchini said. "If they cannot maintain an in-house IT teamand the complexity of systems, SMBs should consider working with a partner that can expertly manage these complexities and keep all systems up and running."