You did it.

You decided that maintaining your company’s technology was not one of your core competencies, and that rather than fussing with it internally like you have been, you’re going to outsource that responsibility to another company.

Your business partners referred you to a few outsourced IT firms that you have met with and vetted, and you feel confident that you’ve found the right match.

So… now what?
 

What to expect when you’re outsourcing

Moving from a fully-insourced model to a fully-outsourced model for your IT systems and support is a big transition. You’ll probably feel the difference most in these areas:

  • Response time. When you insource, your IT support sounds a lot like, “Hey Bob, can you come take a look at this?” Many outsourced providers offer 24/7/365 remote support, but connecting with that support will take more effort on your part – you pick up the phone, you call, you wait to be connected to an engineer, you explain your problem to them as best you can, and they either walk you through a fix or take remote control of your machine to solve the problem that way. This arrangement is generally effective, but if you’re used to the “Hey Bob “approach, it can feel like a dip in responsiveness.
  • System shake-up. In many cases, internal teams will take the build-your-own-network approach to technology management; they’ll implement home-grown solutions and procedures which may or may not be aligned with industry best practices. When your new outsourced team dives in, often times they’ll resurface with a set of initial recommendations on how they’d like to change your systems. Their goal here is to streamline your technology operations, and to set you up with equipment that is more mainstream (and therefore more supportable). This makes their and your life easier by improving your performance, efficiency, and security.
  • Breadth. By design, outsourcing means that you have an entire company at your disposal. While Bob may not have been so great with Macs, there’s a very high probability that at least one person within your outsourced team will have Mac expertise. We sometimes see companies bend their technology (and their expectations) to fit the skillset of their IT staff, which can result in stagnation and, in severe cases, feeling as if you’re boxed in or even held hostage. These limitations are lifted when you outsource.

 

How to set your IT partnership up for success

The relationship will be different, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be wildly successful. Here are the guidelines your outsourced team hopes you’ll follow:

  1. Don’t be nice. If you’re unhappy with something, tell your provider. Whether it’s trouble with your technology itself, a bad interaction you had with your Account Manager, consistently poor response time, or a lack of measurable ROI from your engagement, your provider can only take action to solve a problem when they know the problem exists. Being “nice” and letting it slide could lead to a snowball effect, and could prevent you from getting your money’s worth.
  2. Talk to them! To take the first point one step further, your outsourced team wants to understand more than just your technology – they want to understand your business, your culture, and your people; while they aren’t your full-time employee, they’d love to be able to interact with you as if they were. They’ll do their part to try to immerse yourself in your company, but whatever you have to offer will only strengthen your partnership and open the door to more informed, more thoughtful guidance for your IT and your business.
  3. Talk to your people, too. Like I said earlier, this transition is big. To make sure your staff is comfortable with the new dynamic, let them know what they should expect, and get their feedback as far as what questions or concerns they may have. If you have this input in advance, your IT firm can incorporate it into their orientation meeting with your staff to help get everyone onto the same page. The more transparency you have across your partnership the better (for everyone involved).

 
It is your outsourced team’s responsibility, of course, to be receptive to your feedback, and to be patient and empathetic as your employees adjust to this new support model.

Your transition won’t be without its bumps, but with the right expectations and the right approach, no bump will be insurmountable.
 

 
As originally published in the American City Business Journals

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