Choosing to outsource IT is not a decision your business should take lightly. Whatever your reason, whether it’s budget constraints or a need for expertise, make sure you spend time thinking about whether or not outsourced IT is the best decision for your business. If you’ve decided to outsource all or part of your IT department, keep in mind that anytime you give someone else responsibility for an aspect of your business, there are risks involved. This article will help guide you through the decision process of outsourcing IT.
When you begin to look into hiring an outside IT services firm, you’ll first need to sit down and develop a comprehensive list of what your business is looking for and expects from the firm you hire. Hiring an agency that has worked with companies such as yours in terms of size and industry is great way to start seeing who has the experience available that will help your business. Focus on the present and the future as you map out what you’re looking for.
- Current IT issues. Make sure you have a list of current needs ready to present the different vendors. By explaining the areas you see room for improvement or fixes, fee expectations and timelines, you can attain more accurate estimates and company protocols.
- Future goals. Having a clear understanding of the direction your company intends to go and the capabilities you need to get there is important. While you may not afford or even need certain expertise now, finding an IT company that grows with yours is a great way to save and implement new strategies when it’s time.
Many businesses who have bad experiences with outsourcing their IT departments find that they are trapped in their contracts, aren’t having their expectations met, or aren’t able to reach out to their hired agency as easily. Make sure the IT services company you choose to hire is flexible in the following areas:
- Availability. Bugs, glitches and tech miscommunications happen. Getting a quick response or fix from your team could mean a difference in sales and customer satisfaction. Make sure you can get in touch with your outsourced team easily.
- Versatility. This is where your future goals come in mind. Knowing a company’s versatility and flexibility in employees can help you determine whether or not these IT firms will be able to meet all your expectations now and in the future.
- Contractual. You don’t want to sign a contract without first taking a test drive, especially when it comes to IT. See if you can have a trial period before signing up for a year-long commitment. Make sure the contract includes everything you discuss, from fees to timelines and expectations.
Some concerns that come from outsourcing are the risks involved with data and confidential information as well as time tracking. Depending on the IT agency you choose to go with, you may be at risk of overpricing, loss of data or worse. Take the necessary steps to ensure your business reduces their network security risks.
- If you’ve had to purchase proprietary software, you may feel like you can’t go anywhere else or take back your network. Make sure your IT services company can work with the programs and software you currently have in place.
- Get referrals and recommendations. Ask other businesses in your industry who outsource for referrals. When speaking with any companies you consider, ask for a full client list and businesses you can call for recommendations. Note: A full client list is important so you can hear from both the dissatisfied and satisfied customers!
- Make sure you discuss how your information will be backed up. You don’t want a loss of data or a security breach. Either back up in-house or with the firm, but make sure if something happens you’ll be able to mend the situation quickly.
When your business decides it is time to hire an IT services company, make sure you have clear expectations in place and are ready to present the information to vendors. Outsourcing IT can save your business time and money while providing access to greater expertise you might not otherwise have. Make sure you choose an IT services firm that has experience in your industry as well as high customer satisfaction and that they are able to grow with your company.
About the Author: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as outsourcing and internet services. She is a web content writer for www.business.com.