IT Outsourcing: Things to Consider

IT Outsourcing Things to Consider

Outsourcing operations can simplify information technology (IT) work, help save energy, cooling, and space costs, and offer greater flexibility. In Western Europe, especially in England and France, it is common for companies to use the outsourcing Ukraine option considering that the Eastern European country is known to have reliable human resources in the IT field.

How IT outsourcing begins

Measuring the success of a service outsourcing initiative is important so that problems are detected and resolved, either by changing providers or returning some functions to be performed internally as needed.

For companies that are not in the technology business, outsourcing data center IT operations can be seen as the ideal change. The decision to source colocation, managed hosting, or cloud providers reduces costly equipment and facility investment, allowing businesses to turn IT services into recurring expense operations that are easier to budget for and scale as needed.

Outsourcing also shifts IT burdens to other vendors and allows internal employees greater flexibility to focus on long-term IT projects that can lead to measurable business improvement. We have seen an improvement in the performance of some of our partner companies just a few months after they took outsourcing to Romania.

Understand SLAs

All IT outsourcing providers will establish an SLA (service level agreement) prior to engagement. In addition to defining the services to be provided, a service level agreement typically describes the methods for accessing support and resolution of escalating issues, as well as the prescribed recourse if the terms of the SLA are not met, including the cancellation. It is important to realize that the purpose of a provider’s service agreement is to set expectations and protect the provider, not the customer.

Although most SLAs consist of legal language, providers include definitions, terms, and conditions that reflect their unique services or operating model. Business leaders, legal staff, and IT administrators need to read and fully understand a service-level agreement before proceeding.

When reviewing an SLA, availability should be the area of greatest concern. Suppose a company relies on an IT outsourcing provider to deliver a 50 Mbps broadband service that helps the business sell its products. The company can expect 50 Mbps as a minimum guarantee with no downtime and receive full compensation for lost sales due to interrupted service. The SLA probably states that the provider will make a “best effort” to deliver the bandwidth, but does not guarantee it. Service can only be guaranteed for 99.9% of the useful time, with additional allowances for maintenance and unforeseen interruptions.

IT outsourcing providers base their business model on a series of standardized services, so they generally focus on prices and optional services. For example, a customer who plans to purchase an established service package will be able to negotiate more attractive prices.

A typical provider may offer several different service levels, alternatives (such as enhanced technical support), and options (such as ancillary services) that are covered by the same SLA document. However, the price may be issued for a separate fee. For example, the monitoring and reporting service may not be provided with the basic services, but as a complementary service available for an additional fee.

Support and escalation options

When those services are provided by an independent company, the IT outsourcing provider becomes a vital partner. As in any relationship, problems can and will arise, so a successful relationship requires a clear understanding of how problems will be resolved. Unfortunately, this is the area where outsourcing providers and enterprise clients leave a lot to be desired.

Understand what support options are available and communicate this to your internal IT staff. Support options are usually outlined in the vendor’s SLA, but study the various avenues of support, including phone, email, a help desk system, community support and forums, and even social media.

Take the time to test all support options and evaluate each response for time and usefulness. For example, consider how it will affect your business if you don’t receive a response after waiting two hours even though your service level agreement describes a 30-minute response time. A quick response without any action advice can be just as problematic.

Now, know the support ladder path. If a level one technician’s response is unsatisfactory or fails to resolve the issue, you must understand how to escalate the incident to a higher-level engineer or personnel to resolve the issue. It may be impractical to test this before establishing a relationship, but it is worth discussing with the provider.

Also look for proactive communications support from your provider, such as reminders of scheduled maintenance windows or quick responses to unexpected service outages. Open communication is one of the best ways for IT outsourcing providers to instill trust in their clients. In addition to preventing unnecessary service calls.

In the end, monitor the performance of your outsourcing agreement

After purchasing an outsourcing service provider, you should periodically reevaluate the provider and your outsourcing work as a whole. Look for performance monitoring and reporting as integral parts of an outsourcing agreement. Make sure that the planned measures have to do with the needs of your business. For example, some providers offer simple monthly service summaries, while others offer real-time performance measures through a web portal. Also, evaluate the level of detail in any reports – especially exceptions and problem reports. It is rare for an IT provider to allow complete transparency into their infrastructure, but reporting should be consistent with the user experience.


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