Outsourcing noise grows

Editor’s Angle

The outsourcing of IT responsibilities has never been an easy proposition for CIOs and network managers, and it doesn’t seem like the scenario is going to get much simpler anytime soon.

The first question that must be asked when it comes to outsourcing, as has been the case for decades, is whether handing off the management of IT is right for a company or not. For many firms, this is still the hardest decision with which to grapple. Can resources that form the veins and blood of an organization be safely entrusted to the care of an outsider?

For some, the question is a no-brainer, such as a firm that knows it is overmatched by the daunting complexity of IT and decides to transfer its computing cranial cramps to a service provider, or for another firm that knows its IT is under control and there is no need to succumb to the services hype machine.

But for many, the process of deciding what to do can take months. For those that decide to keep things in-house, the question of “should I outsource or not?” continues to loom over the enterprise; it becomes a never-ending possibility that must continually be gauged.

For those that do outsource, a host of new complexities immediately face the company brain trust, many of which have sprung up only recently.

For instance, the choice of service provider has become a daunting task in itself. No longer are there but a few outsourcers from which to choose. For every IT function, from e-mail management to overall security responsibilities, there are at least a few options available. The research process, the request-for-proposal process and the haggling-over-final-details process are all time- and cost-consuming endeavours and provide an immediate challenge to today’s typical IT shop.

The question of where to send the outsourced IT functions has also emerged as a pressing question, as the offshore, or foreign-nation, outsourcing option becomes a reality. An IT manager could start a small library with the number of books, papers and articles that have been written on the subject – an indication of just how many aspects there are to consider with going offshore. As illustrated in our feature story on pages 18-19, answers in this area are not easy to come by.

Finally, IT pros must wade through the conflicting opinions on outsourcing presented by vendors and attempt to draw their own conclusions. Hardware vendors, for instance, might frown upon the concept because it could mean that less of their servers, routers, etc. are ultimately sold, thus negatively affecting their revenues. Other, pure-services outfits will do nothing but sing the praises of the outsourced enterprise.

The resulting cacophony can be deafening to an IT manager. The best remedy is to continually take stock of one’s IT objectives and see whether outsourcing offers an edge in realizing them.