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In the Trenches: How IT Outsourcing Makes Life Easier for R&D Engineers

Published by SPK Blog Post
on December 5, 2011

Earlier this month we posted the second blog in a series on how IT outsourcing can deliver multiple benefits to organizations. This post will delve into the benefits to R&D Engineers.

Engineers fear disruption to the organization, potential loss of jobs (including their own), power shifts, and the introduction of new technology that’s outside of their control. Though these fears are understandable, the outsourcing of R&D IT support done right can make their lives and careers easier and provide new opportunities.

For starters, well executed R&D IT outsourcing will be a major relief for engineers. For a variety of reasons – overtaxed internal IT departments, lack of dedicated IT resources to the R&D function – many engineers often handle the bulk of R&D IT support on their own, including application fixes, system outages, help desk issues, etc.  Unlike most departments in a company, R&D has the technical expertise to handle their own IT issues.  However, when R&D engineers solve their own IT problems, they adversely impact product development schedules.  If engineers are spending time solving operational problems, they aren’t working on product design.  By outsourcing their IT activities to the right service provider, an R&D group can get efficient operational support and improve the productivity of their design engineers.

As a result, engineers can obtain multiple benefits when one or more IT activities (e.g. application management, compute farm management, lab network management, and desktop support) are outsourced, including:

A Greater Sense of Focus: IT outsourcing enables the R&D department to focus completely on their core activities.  Engineers can focus on engineering — mechanical, electronic, or software — thereby improving their time to market and product quality.   Instead of having to react and respond to IT operational issues, engineers can instead focus on what they’ve been hired to do – design, test and release products.

This is exceptionally important to R&D.  More than any other corporate department, R&D depends very heavily on IT operational tools and systems to get their job done.  If the tools and systems aren’t working flawlessly, engineering productivity is immediately compromised.

Receive Targeted, Streamlined Support: It is very difficult for most internal IT departments to provide the specialized support required by R&D.  In particular, if the product development includes software engineering, there are a myriad of tools and processes in play.  However, an IT service provider that specializes in these tools and processes has the diverse technical skill sets required to support the engineers.   These IT engineers are really engineers — they are IT professionals who understand the ins and outs of R&D and how R&D needs to work.  They can participate in the product development teams.  These IT engineers are DevOps professionals.

Learn New Technologies: When companies outsource IT operations to an IT outsourcing provider that’s well-versed in emerging Engineering tools and technologies, this opens up opportunities for R&D engineers to learn new technologies that can help them to expand professionally.  The IT service provider exerts considerable effort keeping current on Engineering applications, tools and processes.  They can bring this valuable information to the R&D department.

Planning, not Reacting: IT operations are reactive by nature. IT outsourcing with the right provider will bring a proactive approach to managing R&D technology.  The service provider will set up an appropriate monitoring and alerting environment to provide immediate reactive support to outages.  However, the IT service provider can also provide proactive support and direct energy toward value-enhancing activities, such as new technology introductions that improve product development efficiency or quality. This can also make life easier for engineers since those who are accustomed to self-support will no longer have to react to IT crises and can instead focus on R&D efforts.

Good outsourcing means greater predictability.

Engineering has many challenges. IT outsourcing doesn’t have to be one of them – in fact, it can make the life of R&D engineers much easier. A company that’s planning to outsource one or more IT activities can make sure it’s an opportunity for the engineering team to free itself from reactive, self-service IT and instead focus on the challenging business of product design and release.

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