So you’ve decided to outsource IT to an external service provider in order to focus on your core activities while also optimizing costs. So far, so good. But before you plunge head first into an outsourcing arrangement, here are a few things worth considering to make the transition smoother.
Chances are, your company is already running internal projects combining IT and business functions that, if managed well, can prepare your staff for collaboration with an IT outsourcing partner that might otherwise be overwhelming at first. Tick off these 7 boxes, based on Forrester’s Services Sourcing Playbook research, and you’re good to go.
1. Efficient project management
The ability to estimate the scope of projects, and to make sure they’re carried out on time and on budget is important enough in-house, but once you choose to outsource IT, it becomes absolutely essential. So run a reality check on your staff’s project management skills and make amends if necessary before committing to an outsourcing deal. Otherwise all the savings granted by an external IT specialist will be eaten up by extra rounds and needless delays.
2. Seamless communication and collaboration
It just takes the right technology. In your current projects involving IT and business, do parties use real-time communication, workflow and content-sharing platforms? Collaboration processes bogged down by massive email threads and too many conference calls create enough confusion and delay within the organization but even more so when you add an external player to the mix.
3. Precisely defined requirements
Right at the start, the project requirement is a critical element of the software development cycle. If your business is employing a standardized requirement template and review process, getting on the same page with an outsourcing partner will be much easier.
4. Standardized processes
A major challenge when you outsource IT is integrating the outsourcer into various processes across the organization. The more siloed and fragmented these processes, the longer the initiation will take, with higher odds of error. The same applies for software development processes in particular: better results are granted if all involved parties adhere to the same consistent model.
Does your company have development and maintenance standards in place? If not, this could be the right time to set them up. If yes, you’re one step closer to an efficient IT outsourcing collaboration.
5. Well-documented project agreements
It’s not uncommon for companies to have service-level agreements establish trust and responsibility between IT and business sides of internal projects, making sure both parties meet their obligations and fulfill their commitments. If working based on precisely defined and mutually respected agreements is part of your corporate culture, then it’ll be fairly simple for you to outsource IT.
6. Instant testing and feedback
In IT outsourcing arrangements, prompt feedback is critical, even in case of singular projects, but even more so in the framework of a continuous delivery solution. In your company, is there a formal sign-off procedure between business and IT sides once an internal project is completed? Are users involved in acceptance testing as part of this finalization process? If not, there’s room for improvement: delays in the feedback loop mean you’ll be paying outsourced developers to idle while they wait for users’ response to their code.
7. A vendor management plan
Do you know who will be in charge of overseeing your IT outsourcing partner’s activity? A vendor management function is essential, especially if you’re planning to cooperate with multiple service providers in the long run. Make sure you have an actionable plan before you commit to an IT outsourcing arrangement.
That’s about it, in our view. Anything you want to add to, take away from or specify in the checklist? Let us know in the comments below.
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