CIOs Need To Make Sure They Don’t Do Outsourcing The Wrong Way

When an IT department does outsourcing, it has to be done right
When an IT department does outsourcing, it has to be done right
Image Credit: Vitor Lima

Here we are at the start of the 21st Century and although we all know about the importance of information technology, are we still talking about outsourcing? The answer is yes. Outsourcing is a difficult task for anyone with the CIO job to take on. There are a lot of different variable involved, every company is different, and it is all too easy to go about doing this stuff the wrong way. What we need is some guidance for CIOs so that they do their outsourcing the right way.

Even Today, It’s Easy To Make Mistakes When You Are Outsourcing

If outsourcing was as easy as picking a few things that the IT department is currently doing and then handing them off to another company to have them do it better (and cheaper) then this outsourcing stuff would not be all that hard to do. However, there’s more to it than that. One of the biggest problems that the person in the CIO position has run into has been the simple fact that the company that they chose to outsource their tasks to simply was not up to the task. The company that they were working with did not have either the promised skills or capacity.

There are a number of other issues that can come up when CIOs are considering outsourcing. One of the most common is that an outsourcing project can move too fast. If you outsource things too quickly, then your company won’t have the time needed to hand off the outsourced projects and the outsourcing company won’t have the ability to start up correctly. You also have to be careful to make sure that you are outsourcing the right functions. Many CIOs have outsourced their project management functions only to discover that they really preferred to keep this function closer to home.

What a lot of CIOs have discovered is that outsourcing cannot be “black boxed.” This occurs when a function, like IT helpdesk, is outsourced and the company believes that the customer being served does not care about who is supporting them or where that person is located as long as the issue is resolved. What CIOs are discovering is that this is not correct. It turns out that company’s now want to own the customer relationship from sales person to support person and they want the sales person to know who in support is talking with their customers.

The Right Way For A CIO To Outsource

If we can all agree that there are a number of different ways that CIOs can go about doing outsourcing the wrong way, the question then comes up: what’s the right way to do this stuff? One of the biggest changes that has happened in the past few years is that CIOs have started to become much more demanding when it comes to telling their outsourcing vendors what they expect them to deliver. This means that CIOs have to take the time and fine tune their outsourcing strategies.

The cost savings of outsourcing various IT functions are still undeniable. What this means for a CIO is that you are going to have to create hybrid solutions that work best for your company. Yes, go ahead and still outsource that help desk function. However, once it has been outsourced, take the time to identify who on the outsource team will be supporting which of your customers. Then plug that person into the rest of your onshore team that is already working with that customer. This way you will have one unified team interfacing with your customers.

No, outsourcing might not be the right solution for every IT department. However, for those that it is the right answer, crafting solutions where the outsourced staff can work with the rest of the team seems to provide the greatest benefits. Note that you may have to implement rules that allow the outsources staff to be released from some of the performance metrics that other outsourced staff have to meet so that they can support specific customers.

What All Of This Means For You

No matter how you look at it, outsourcing can be very tricky for any CIO to accomplish. We’ve been doing this for a while and in the past we have made some mistakes. However, we are in the process of learning from those mistakes and we think that we now know how to go about doing this correctly.

Many of the mistakes that CIOs have made with outsourcing in the past have had to do with moving too quickly and picking the wrong company to work with. CIOs are starting to become smarter about outsourcing and now realize that they have to create relationships with the outsourced workers who are performing the tasks. These workers then have to become part of the onshore team that is supporting a given customer.

The good news is that everyone has become smarter about the best way to go about outsourcing IT department tasks. CIOs need to understand that outsourcing does not mean “out of sight, out of mind”. Instead, it simply means that we are going to have to restructure how we put together our IT teams once we start to outsource IT functions. Make sure that you do this the next time that you outsource part of your IT department and then watch what happens!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to get a remote worker to feel as though they are part of a domestic team?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job at your company, you have control over the domain of IT. If you want it to happen in your department, then it’s going to happen. However, if we step outside of your department into finance, or accounting, or sales, your power starts to drop off rather quickly because they don’t have the same view of the importance of information technology. The one thing that you don’t seem to be able to do is to get different departments to work well with your IT department. There has to be a way to solve this problem of silos within the company.