Many IT professionals often disregard the little things that are crucial to a company’s IT operation. Choosing the right service provider and having a comprehensive contracts are some of the things to consider to make the operation a success.
Angus Kidman shares some of his findings from the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations & Data Center Summit, which is also part of his World of Servers series, posted at LifeHacker.com. Here are eight useful guidelines for IT professionals:
Trust trumps outsourcing and insourcing. Majority of firms that outsource IT processes are driven by the premise of saving on operational and labor costs. But sooner or later, they realize that by doing so, customer satisfaction gradually decreased because the results of the outsourcing operation are sub-par. This prompted firms to lose confidence and trust on the providers.
It’s not always about the service level agreements (SLAs). Too much focus on service level agreements can cloud the way IT pros measure the effectiveness of an outsourced operation. SLAs should be used to improve, but not limit the outcome of operations.
Being stubborn when it comes to making decisions. Some IT leaders stick to their initial decisions, even if these compromise the company’s goal of becoming more economical. Some jobs are obviously more expensive to do in-house, which is why executives should deliberate if it would be beneficial to outsource a process or do it internally.
How will you know if you haven’t tried it yet? Not knowing about the entire process can sometimes fuel fear for decision-makers. For instance, cloud technology, which is a fairly new concept in the world of IT, is often set aside because leaders are unfamiliar with it, and immediately think that it will put the entire IT operation at risk due to security issues.
Mistakes can actually be useful. Apart from serving as a guide for future operations, mistakes can be the fuel to the fire by instigating collaborative effort among employees.
Exceptional employees aren’t always looking for the highest salary. There are several things that motivate employees, but it is not always about the money.
Update and innovate. The service offerings of vendors are constantly changing. This gives clients the advantage of knowing the game.
Overstretching your goals. Implement one at a time because you can’t always do everything at once. It will give you a clearer view of what’s happening across your entire operation. Also, sometimes, it is more beneficial to turn down a project and focus on one operation at a time.
In every company, the people are always considered as the backbone that keeps things moving forward. However, poorly managed employees can have a negative impact not only to the company’s growth, but the company’s full existence as well.
CMVLive.com shares four common employee management blunders that companies should avoid.
Redundant positions in the organizational chart. Small businesses tend to hire several people for the same position, with the perception that their turnaround time will be faster. This takes up a huge chunk of the company’s resources, and in most cases, doesn’t contribute anything to the company.
By getting to know more about them, business owners will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their employees better. For instance, a certain copywriter is also proficient in editing images, he/she can fill in as a part-time designer for certain projects, instead of hiring another full-time designer to work on small design projects.
Average is passable. Being unsympathetic to employees who do not add value to the company is another thing to avoid. Executives should want employees who want to grow with them. Some employers fail to take action when employees give unsatisfactory results.
One good way of motivating employees is to start a healthy competition within the department. It also wouldn’t hurt if there are monetary rewards or recognition for those who contribute more.
Goals are not achieved. Exhaustion and lack of sleep were found by a study to be key reasons for failing to achieve goals in the workplace. Employers should make it a point to check and assist employees if they are having troubles in sleeping and getting enough rest.
Lax supervision. Like any other operation, managers should be aware of what’s going on within his/her department. By getting to know more about each employee, it would be easier to resolve issues, offer support, and even let go some people who are not doing their job properly.
PRNewswire.co.uk recently released the highlights of Research and Markets’ "Global Animation Industry: Strategies, Trends and Opportunities 2013" report. It included major movements in the animation industry, particularly the growing development in animation outsourcing.
It stated the rise in online streaming, and cable and satellite TV, which are now more accessible by the audience, and are seen stimulating the demand for diverse shows, including animated entertainment.
The audience demographic was also seen evolving. Major networks and production companies are tapping more mature audiences. Viewers 10 to 15 years ago, the time when traditional animation and cartoons were popular, have also matured. Some of the notable animated series that are targeted to a wider audience (kids to adults) are The Simpsons and King of the Hill.
Some of the countries that participated in the report are the US, Canada, Japan, France, Britain, and Germany. Animation companies also made money in licensing operations and royalties for the production of collectibles and knickknacks based on the animated franchise.
On the other hand, computer games have also transitioned from consoles to animated series for television and movies. Some of which are Pokémon, Power Stone, Monster Farm, and Detective Conan.
Outsourcing animation content to regions such as Asia has become a major trend. The key clients are film and television program producers from North America. The availability of affordable and feasible computer animation platforms, and low-cost labor rates compared to their counterparts in Europe and North America were noted as the key drivers for this growth. The US, Japan, Canada, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Korea were identified as major animation markets, while China and India are emerging as animation outsourcing destinations.
Not all outsourcing partnerships are successful. Some clients, especially the ones that have already done this in the past, know the basic actions to turn a tainting partnership around. However, there will always be a few who are stubborn, anxious, and even unsympathetic when it comes to salvaging whatever is left of their outsourcing operation.
Before it’s too late, business owners need to look out for these bad outsourcing indications shared by Outsourcing-Center.com, and take the suggested methods to recover:
1. Low price doesn’t always equate to good service. Keep your eyes open for service providers that are offering "too good to be true" rates. If the BPO provider you are eyeing said they are able to deliver according to the precise requirements of their clientele, you should be able to see the results yourself. They do not have to oversell their company to you or use other marketing ploys to prove that they are affordable without sacrificing the end product.
Also, look beyond their resources. Since the outsourcing industry is constantly evolving, they should be able to withstand the demand from the market and the sudden changes in the industry.
2. Red flags in cultural differences. When performing due diligence after getting responses from RFPs, don’t forget to ask around about the work ethic and culture of the provider you’re eyeing. Also, if possible, it would be better if you observe the people, infrastructure, and current operations. Your operations might not sync with your provider’s properly, resulting to miscommunication and other issues.
3. Review the sentiments of the stakeholders and decision-makers. Always solicit the opinions of the stakeholders. It would be easier during the integration and transition period if key people are aware and well-informed about what’s about to happen. Moreover, you will know what each department is willing to do and what they need, so if in case an issue emerges, it will be easier for you to trace the cause.
4. Choose an operations manager wisely. An operations manager will act as a referee for the parties involved. He or she will be dedicated in making sure that the operation is running smoothly. He/She could either visit the providers or manage them remotely.
5. Adopting new processes. Clients should be willing enough to entrust the problem-solving process to their providers. This doesn’t mean that they will leave once they’ve informed the provider about the problem, but they should avoid breathing down the necks of their providers since it stunts their freedom to think and use their own techniques. You hired them for a reason so let them do their jobs.
6. Making hasty and irrational moves. Before giving the operation the green light, always review and reassess the plans to integrate before making a move. This will make the transition easier as everything would be well thought out and well-executed. Success doesn’t always happen immediately - it takes a lot of hard work and patience. There’s no point in executing everything at once and getting bad outcomes in the end.
7. Client-provider relationship. Keep in mind that you are involved in an outsourcing partnership. If you lose, the providers lose. If you win, it’s also a triumph for them. You are in this together, which is why there’s no point in pointing fingers should there be a problem in the future. Both parties should own up to mistakes and be more transparent.
Standard and structured pricing models for outsourcing IT services are no longer used these days. Back then, two types were mostly used - pricing based on input, which is mostly used for product development services and application maintenance, and output-based pricing for infrastructure services.
Information technology (IT) outsourcing has diversified over the years, especially with the emergence of cloud technology. Clients now prefer hybrid pricing models that cover various processes and products that they would like to outsource, instead of purchasing an entire IT-suite that restricts their preferences.
A CIO.com article shares a checklist that should be reviewed by IT services clients who are interested in the hybrid pricing model.
1) The pricing model should be based on the requirements of the customer. Service providers often stick with a fixed model or only offer limited types of services. However, clients can dictate their requirements. For instance, their application development and maintenance (ADM) services can be contracted with IT providers that are flexible enough to offer the managed services model and pricing based on additional retail processes.
2) Will your company benefit from the changes? Business owners tend to overlook key factors for outsourcing. They should make sure that once outsourcing changes are implemented, there would be evidence of improvement. A good example is changing IT helpdesk calls to a different platform such as email response, which some clients find too simple as they are looking for real-time assistance.
3) Raise your concerns and identify what you want right from the beginning. Having a good start on things could not only make operations smoother but faster as well. It will also help during the pricing period as clients will only pay for the services that they identified and they could strike a better deal since providers will get a better idea of the entire operation.
4) Consider integration problems. Clients and IT providers have different perspectives on how things are done. Moreover, some clients do not fully understand the actual value of the processes that they are acquiring. Both factors can result to additional overhead costs.
5) Gainsharing is a two-way street. Both parties should anticipate that things can turn sour, and when that happens, they should work together to overcome or address the problem. It will be a long and painstaking process but if the client and provider work together, with the right governance and leadership, it could be a success.
by: Sarah Joson
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Comments (0)
Category: Outsourcing News
Social media is one of the most efficient tools for budding businesses. It can reach a wide audience, can be adjusted according to a company’s marketing strategy, and can be a platform for customer service.
Some businesses do not have to worry about their social media campaigns because they have enough resources to get the job done, but for small and start-up businesses, it eats up a chunk of their valuable time. In fact, a survey done by Business2Community.com showed that 43 percent of small businesses spend more than six hours weekly on social media.
If you are thinking about outsourcing social media marketing, here are three things you should consider:
Social media service providers know what they are doing. These consultants know the ins and outs of the entire social media industry, including the trends and popular innovation that can add value to a marketing campaign. Having the right information would require small businesses to appoint a person internally to manage and do all the research needed for their social media campaigns on top of his/her daily responsibilities. Service providers would be assigned to design and implement a campaign, analyze the target market, maximize the tools, and analyze the results.
They always know when the right time is. Apart from knowing a thing or two about the behavior of users and consumers, consultants know how to capture a wider audience by publishing an engaging and well-thought out content at the right moment.
Hiring a social media service provider is proven to be cost-effective. Majority of consultants offer an all-inclusive package where they can work remotely using their own software and hardware. They will be doing the research and reports depending on the requirements of your social media marketing campaign.
For businesses that are strongly considering managing social media operations in-house, here are the key points:
Real-time updates. Any material that you acquire or develop throughout the day can be immediately passed on to your internal social media marketer. There will be no delays and clients no longer need to worry about business partnerships as they only need to treat their social media marketer like a regular employee.
Internal social media marketers will be an extension of the company. Since the social media marketing marketer will be working for the company instead of with the company, it is relative that he/she would like to bring success to an organization which serves as a representation of himself/herself.
Smooth integration across all internal platforms. Marketing tools such as press releases and informative data can be shared easily if the social media marketer knows how to control all of the online marketing channels simultaneously. This could result to a smoother operation and a wider reach.
Outsourced human resources (HR) processes were unheard of 10 years ago, but one by one, organizations started to take notice of its benefits. The HR outsourcing segment is predicted to grow even more as organizations continue to find ways of reducing costs and combine service providers while improving their core processes.
In a survey done by Global Industry Analysts, a business strategy and market intelligence firm, participated by nearly 300 human resources outsourcing firms, they found that the HRO market has the potential to reach $162 billion by 2015, an increase from $103 billion 2007 and $61 billion in 2002.
However, businesses that are still deciding on whether they should outsource human resources processes or keep it in-house should review these factors when selecting the right human resources outsourcing service provider listed by Business2Community.com.
They should have strong financial credentials. HR outsourcing providers are often assigned to process critical methods such as payroll, payroll taxes, and insurance-related work. To make transactions easier and faster, choose a firm that already has a solid relationship with financial institutions, have a good reputation in accomplishing tasks, and have been doing those kinds of transactions for at least 10 years.
Former clients should be raving about them. If you are going to partner with an HRO firm, it means all of its employees and whoever they’re affiliated with will somehow become associated with your company. So you have to do an in-depth research about the company. Start by asking for references from current and former clients that covers safety, benefits, and regulatory compliance.
Who are their clients? Some HR providers focus on a specific industry and a specific niche while some have a much broader target market. However, it really depends on the needs of your business. If you are looking for people who have a certain skill to effectively work on your processes, then you would need a niche-specific HR firm so that they will understand what is actually going on in your company.
Can they work on local policies and regulations? Many businesses that outsource HR often face law and regulatory challenges. In some cases, HR firms from another region are not aware of some of the business and employee rules and laws, which can lead to problems.
Customizable approach for your business. It will cost you more if you avail a service package with processes that you don’t really need at the moment. Make a list first and deliberate which employment, administration and compliance processes you need and find a suitable vendor that offers flexible HR services.