Is it Safe to Outsource IT?
How do you choose a reliable doctor? Surgeon? Dentist? IT professional? What criteria do you look for? How do you know they will perform safe procedures and provide effective services?
David Cochrane is the president of 30A.it, an information technology management company that offers a wide variety of services to small to medium businesses, and he feels that business owners really need to be aware of pertinent information with regard to outsourcing IT or not.
Now more than ever before it is imperative that companies equip themselves with efficient computer systems and reliable information technology (IT) infrastructures. Many businesses, both large and small, are choosing to outsource their IT needs to vendors and specialty firms. Of course, the term “outsource” can come with different implications. Some businesses might outsource specific areas of their technological needs, including computer system setup, server updating, software development and installation, technical support, and security monitoring. No matter what the specific project might entail, outsourcing can be an extremely efficient way to address a business’s technological needs, while freeing up resources within the company. On the other hand, outsourcing can also come with its own set of drawbacks, particularly when it comes to quality of service and information security.
When an outside company is called to address a business’s computer-related needs, the IT professionals in question are generally granted a fair amount of access to key company systems and information. Often times, outsourcing contracts are awarded to vendors who offer their services at the lowest costs. These “budget companies” tend to underpay their employees in an attempt to keep their costs down, which often creates an atmosphere of employee contempt. Consequently, outsourced employees might not always find themselves motivated to provide the highest levels of service, and in many situations might skimp on their responsibilities or simply perform the bare minimum. Underpriced services also often signify that they don’t have the knowledge or expertise and those technicians are learning on your job, and wasting a lot of time. For underpriced jobs David and team recommends hedging your business costs by asking for a fixed price contract.
From an information security standpoint, the use of outsourced vendors (especially those “budget” vendors) can often put a business in a precarious situation. Dissatisfied employees can easily take their frustrations out on their unsuspecting clients by selling or exposing confidential company information to which they are granted access as part of their work. Additionally, outsourced company employees can often find a way to gain long-term access to their clients’ systems, even after their contracts have been fulfilled or expired. This can expose businesses of any size to virus infiltration and data theft many years after the contracted work has taken place.
Given the risks involved in relying on outsiders for computer-related needs, is it really safe for a company to outsource its IT? David Cochrane is the president of both 30A.it and Fluent Business Solutions, Inc., national IT management firms that serve small to medium businesses across the country, and according to him, it is perfectly safe for a company to outsource its IT provided that it chooses a truly reliable vendor for the job. Of course, sometimes the notion of finding that dependable IT company is easier said than done. A good way to get a sense of a company’s track record is to ask for references and check up on the status of licenses. By talking to company representatives, and learning about employee qualifications, business owners can help themselves arrive at wise decisions when it comes to choosing IT vendors. And while a business owner shouldn’t feel that he has no choice but to go with the most expensive IT company around, he shouldn’t be so quick to grant that contract to the lowest player on the market either. David’s companies require technicians to carry technology certifications, and all employees are given through background checks. It doesn’t stop there. Internally, as an IT company measures must be put into place to give access based on technician roles and responsibilities. It’s good to make sure your outsourced IT has a policy whereby technicians are only given the information deemed necessary to complete the task at hand. For instance, an entry level technician providing desktop support should not be given access to high level customer passwords and configurations.
Cochrane also likes to emphasize the fact that outsourced IT can often times be better than an in-house solution. From an experience standpoint, companies that dedicate themselves to keeping up with the latest and greatest on the technological front can often times offer more value then a set of in-house IT employees. Additionally, an IT company such as 30A.it is bound to have its reputation on the line every time it accepts a contract. While some lower cost, unlicensed vendors or firms have little to lose by alienating customers, Cochrane’s philosophy is that his company’s services are only as good as the quality inherent in the 30A.it name. Despite its already solid reputation in the field, 30A.it is constantly striving to prove itself, a fact that should give business owners peace of mind despite the uncertainties of outsourcing.
Any business owner (small, medium, or otherwise) should carefully research before awarding a contract and leaving the technology project company in another person’s hands. Doctors or surgeons might technically get the job done, but will your procedure be done with precision, accuracy, and without long-term detrimental effects? When it comes to choosing a professional, you get what you pay for, so make sure you choose wisely.
30A.it allows its clients to focus on what they do best while we focus on assuring their technology solutions are reliable, secure and efficient.
Author: David Cochrane
Microsoft Certified Professional, CompTIA Network+
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