The 3 Simple Rules of Outsourcing IT Services

For many companies considering outsourcing IT services to new partners or re-establishing relationships with existing ones, the biggest challenge is tackling the so-called outsourcer mentality of providers which concentrates heavily on pricing and short-term technical goals. Changing the nature of outsourcing IT services obviously depends on both parties; here are 3 steps that you as a client can take to facilitate that transformation.

  1. Lay Your Cards on the Table.

It all starts with open and honest communication, says Larry Bonfante, CIO of the United States Tennis Association. Talk to your potential partners about your company, your short and long term goals and how IT can contribute to accomplishing them. Explain to them how your team is set up and how you expect their staff and resources to supplement yours.

Instead of focusing only on service delivery, discuss addressing business priorities. It can be difficult to move vendors out of the mindset of lowest cost as deal-maker (which is quite understandable given the notorious price-sensitivity of most clients in the past). Bonfante suggests emphasizing your main priorities, whether it’s innovation, expansion or other business needs. Be explicit about your vendor selection criteria and their relative importance to you.

This way, everyone can be on the same page as to what you expect from outsourcing IT services. Nevertheless, Bonfante warns, change happens slowly, or in some cases, not at all. Which makes the next rule inevitable:

  1. Define Clear Roles and Objectives.

Especially when you’re outsourcing IT services to multiple vendors, it is necessary to have an advocate who single-handedly and consistently communicates with them on your company’s behalf, advises Raj Datt, CIO of Aricent Group. When setting up the framework for collaboration, it is equally important to assign clear roles and responsibilities; to pin down who’s accountable and who needs to be informed or consulted about a given process. In addition, precisely documenting goals and expectations yields better results every time.

It’s also a good idea to have a contingency plan at hand should things go pear-shaped in outsourcing IT services, Datt adds. This can help to make the transition less bumpy if it comes to ending a relationship. But in order to avoid this scenario:

  1. Establish Mutual Commitment.

It’s a cliché but it’s true: trust is the cornerstone of fruitful partnerships. In order to bring that extra quality to outsourcing IT services, Datt says it’s vital to create a mutually beneficial collaboration in which both parties have a vested interest. Once both buyer and vendor understand how they can contribute to each other’s success, it’s easier to find compromise, to stay agile and to quickly and efficiently solve any problems that might arise.

In your experience, is there anything else that’s essential in outsourcing IT services?