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Tips on Working with an IT Service Provider

by: Ronald Escanlar

Friday, September 23, 2011 |

How SMBs can Maximize IT Outsourcing

Small companies generally do not have the resources to undertake massive volume orders or major shifts in technological infrastructure. Outsourcing, whether offshore or nearshore, serves as a strategic tool for small companies to maintain profitability and to ensure efficient customer service.

In any business operation, IT infrastructure is an important aspect. Unfortunately, small companies have limited budgets in hiring IT personnel or purchasing IT equipment. Outsourcing enables small companies to hire world-class IT personnel or to use virtual IT equipment at low cost.

However, compared to large, multinational companies, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) generally do not have the skill and know-how in managing outsourcing service providers. Kevin Casey of InformationWeek.com has interviewed TeamLogic IT’s vice president for information technology, Vince Plaza, for an insight into how SMBs can fully take advantage of IT outsourcing.

Do not hesitate to ask questions. Asking questions creates an atmosphere of transparency and accountability. A transparent working relationship ensures that all issues are attended to immediately. At the same time, any possible challenges can be foreseen and resolved. A typical question that may be asked in an outsourced IT relationship may be related to general details such as the software and hardware used by the service provider. Software may refer to the applications and technologies employed to deliver the services – it may even help to understand the different levels of service that an outsourcing agreement covers.

Outline a clear job description for the outsourcing service provider. Not all SMBs have their own IT departments. However, tension may occur in an outsourcing relationship that involves two IT managers – the in-house IT executive and the outsourced IT staff. A clearly outlined role and responsibility for the outsourced IT provider helps to reduce this tension. Plaza said an approach like “call on us when you need us” will place the outsourcing service provider in a supporting role.

Regular meetings ensure that the outsourcing relationship is proactive, instead of being reactive. Internal company meetings are done regularly to address issues and avoid problems – why not do the same with an outsourcing service provider? A proactive outsourcing relationship means that problems are anticipated and avoided, resulting to less downtimes and more operational hours.

Do not sacrifice security. Being an SMB does not equate to having less secure IT resources. Awareness of data security is very important, especially for SMBs that capitalize on a specific product or service. Security policies and procedures that do not require additional equipment and staff can be developed and used.

Be fast in solving problems. Even if an outsourcing relationship is proactive in dealing with challenges, inevitably a problem arises. How many times have you dealt with a project that did not proceed as planned? Speed is critical in solving problems, especially problems that may hamper service delivery.

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