In September we introduced a blog post series on how IT outsourcing can deliver multiple benefits to organizations. These gains can range from lower costs to support for an activity or function to process improvements delivered by an organization that has extensive experience in a given discipline (e.g. data center operations, IT help desk, desktop support) or business unit (e.g. R&D, finance, manufacturing).
As the last month’s post discussed, it’s important to recognize how people in certain disciplines can benefit from IT outsourcing as well. One group that has the most to gain is IT managers whose roles are often made simpler as a result of IT outsourcing.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the key ways in which IT managers benefit most from having one or more IT activities hosted by third-party organizations:
Greater staff flexibility. Many IT managers (and staff, too) spend a considerable amount of time “putting out fires,” to draw upon industry parlance. Due to the economic constraints most companies are facing, many IT organizations are running lean, forcing IT managers to spread their resources thinly across various aspects of IT support. That means IT staffers often have to wear multiple hats (e.g. project management, application or network support, etc.). Outsourcing IT activities that don’t provide a company a competitive advantage (e.g. network maintenance) enable IT managers to focus on more value-added activities and to distribute IT staff more effectively.
It can also work in the other direction. If you pick an outsourcer that is deeply focused in a particular discipline or application set, that provider can provide enormous competitive advantage to the customer company through its knowledge and expertise in a way that an IT generalist can’t. This is especially true for SMBs. They aren’t large enough to hire specialized IT professionals, and end up having generalists to cover a variety of tasks. By comparison, the IT outsourcing team can more deeply specialize its IT professionals and share them across companies.
More time/resources available to deliver business value. Given the choice, most IT managers would prefer to devote more time delivering value to the business, either by brainstorming with business peers on new revenue-generating strategies or by managing IT/business projects that are designed to lower costs, increase the top line, improve productivity, etc. IT outsourcing provides IT managers considerably more opportunity to work more closely with business units and help deliver these types of business benefits.
Streamlined management. One of the misconceptions about IT outsourcing is that it frees IT managers completely from having to manage the activity that has been transferred to a third party. While that’s true to some degree, IT managers still need to manage their relationships and SLAs with their outsourcing providers to ensure that the activities in question are meeting the agreed-upon criteria. Still, outsourcing one or more IT functions to outsourcing providers does release IT managers from having to oversee day-to-day operations for given activities. In addition, there are also fewer resources or staff members IT managers have to directly manage on a daily basis, thus freeing them up to concentrate more on other aspects of their roles and value-added activities.
Plus, companies that opt to outsource IT support for a particular business group are freed from having to manage the bulk of the communication and relationship management with that particular business group.
Staff development. When companies outsource one or more IT activities, more time and attention can be devoted to building the skills needed by their IT teams (e.g. training one or more staffers on PHP, Drupal or other hot development skills that can benefit the enterprise). Providing opportunities for valued IT staffers to enhance their skills can aid IT managers by having more engaged employees who deliver greater value to their organizations.