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How to Strategically Outsource Your SME’s IT Processes

by Matt Kingswood, Head of Managed Services, ITS

Outsourcing IT support services saves time and money for many businesses. This is particularly the case for SMEs whose internal staff don’t have the time or skills to managed complicated office technology — especially considering the rate at which technology changes.

To gain the most value from managed services, however, you need to prioritise your business-critical IT processes. These processes could include providing on-site employee technical support, managing security concerns for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, or configuring your network.

The different levels of service

Once you know which IT functions you want to outsource, you can begin pricing vendors to see what you can accomplish within your budget.

As you consider the options, you’ll notice that vendors typically offer three support categories: break-fix, proactive, and fully managed. Be aware that as the level of support increases, so does the price tag. Go into your search knowing which option is best for your organisation and don’t be persuaded to pay for services you won’t fully utilise.

In this article, you’ll learn what to expect from each type of support so you can decide which is right for you.

BREAK-FIX: BASIC SUPPORT FOR THE BUDGET CONSCIOUS

If your business isn’t heavily dependent on IT and simply needs a helping hand when a computer or network breaks, break-fix support is a good fit for you.

With this type of service, an IT engineer will diagnose and fix problems remotely, whether via telephone or online remote computer access. For more complicated issues, the engineer might tackle the problem on-site.

Break-fix services are based on a pay-as-you-go model, so you won’t spend your budget on unused or underutilised services. The downside is you might experience slower response times and lower quality service. In addition, this reactive approach to IT can become inefficient, particularly if the same problems reoccur.

PROACTIVE: PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE FOR THE IT DEPENDENT

When your business relies heavily on IT (if you run business-critical apps or use cloud services, for example), you need a higher level of support than break-fix.

Proactive support helps you avoid problems by monitoring the health of your computers and networks. The third-party support team will immediately address areas of concern, such as low disk space. Unlike break-fix support, technicians are equipped to respond quickly and provide better support.

By resolving issues in advance, you can minimise the likelihood of outages. Unfortunately, if you don’t choose the right service provider, the costs could be inordinate for the level of support you receive.

FULLY MANAGED: IT DEPARTMENTS FOR THE IT AVERSE

Sometimes break-fix and proactive solutions aren’t enough, particularly if your company is IT dependent but doesn’t want to manage the resource requirements for an in-house IT department. In this case, you can replace the function of an internal IT team with fully managed support.

The service provider will not only oversee your day-to-day technology maintenance needs but also look for recurring problems and ways to strengthen your IT infrastructure. Plus, you’ll benefit from the provider’s knowledge of industry trends and experience with new technologies.

Managed services give you premium service levels and quick response times — and a price tag to match. Because this top-tier service requires a hefty investment, it’s crucial that you work with a trustworthy provider that will act according to the strategic direction you provide.

Choosing the right provider

Regardless of which support tier you decide on, you need to work with the right service provider. First, consider the company’s years of experience and read current customer testimonials.

If the vendor makes it past your initial investigation, examine the company’s service level agreements to see how quickly the service provider will address your needs. If possible, have the vendor demonstrate typical response times so you can evaluate the service quality.

When reviewing contracts, bear in mind that new equipment and upgrades are not always covered. Also, not all vendors support BYOD equipment, so if that’s a priority for your business, look for a service provider that can support these devices.

Additionally, make sure the provider can support all your critical applications and is available during your business hours. To prevent voiding your hardware warranties, verify that the engineers are fully qualified to repair equipment from an array of manufacturers.

Being mindful of these considerations can help ensure you have a positive experience with the company you choose to manage your IT environment.

Things to remember

Outsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all solution for IT problems within your organisation. Randomly allocating lower priority IT processes to a third party or automatically subscribing to a top-tier service level you don’t need won’t give you the results you’re looking for.

But approaching outsourcing as a strategic decision can unlock business potential that might not otherwise be possible for your business.

When you outsource priority processes, you can help your business stay ahead of the curve. Your employees will be able to focus on their day-to-day jobs rather than on fixing IT issues, and your company will benefit from the IT support provider’s expertise. Now that’s value.

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ITS is part of the US Reynolds and Reynolds company which has a strong heritage in data backup and recovery services. In his position, Matt is responsible for developing Managed IT services within the UK and is currently focused on the next generation of cloud and recovery products. Find out more.


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