Talk first, then outsource

It’s harder to execute than it is to communicate, but one analyst says that the practice of acquiring the right out-sourcing service boils down to one childish bargain.

“You show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” said Rich Evans, vice-president of enterprise data centre strategies at Meta Group. Far too many

companies suffer economic and organ-izational loss because they were not clear in exactly what they want out-sourced, resulting in redundancies in service or neglected service, he added.

To avoid such a nightmare, Evans urged firms to communicate what they want from an outsourcer as effectively as possible.

“Pull [your network map] out and say ‘Look, here is how I do my changes to the network,'” he said. “You tell me when you are making changes so we don’t step on each other.'”

Evans was presenting to a group of Meta clients in Toronto, where he spoke about outsourcing, service and support, enterprise data and media, and asset centres.

Mark Scott, CEO of N-Able Technologies, an Ottawa-based software vendor and service provider, agreed that communication is the key to finding the right fit.

“If you are going to get into the business of having someone look after your technology, probably one of the most important parts of your business, it would make sense to have pretty good communication right up front as to what your requirements are and if that specific service provider can provide it,” he said.

One resounding message came through in Evans’ presentation. Last year was a time of big changes in attitude toward out-sourcing, with customers realizing that while start-up companies may have been inexpensive and trendy, reliability may have been sacrificed. He added that just months ago, small vendors became legitimate providers. But now, many customers who jumped in with small start-ups have turned back to more tried and true companies.

“Customers go back to the big guys like IBM because they know that IBM knows what’s going on,” he said. “They know they understand the processes.”

While Scott said that it doesn’t hurt to do some research into companies before making a deal, because “just about anyone can get into this business,” a provider doesn’t have to be IBM to be successful either. All it takes is a little local support.

However, he added that it can be expensive to go with more famed companies. “They are more comfortable sticking to a local market.”