If you’re a new business owner or manager, you may wonder whether you should outsource certain services or hire full-time employees for those roles. Unfortunately, there’s no right answer. Each company must determine the best solution to meet its own goals.
While you’re in decision-making mode, remember that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can have some full-time staffers plus an outsourced team to help out when needed. You can also bring on an outsourced team for a time to “test” what it would be like to have them there permanently. This strategy can work particularly well when outsourcing software development and IT.
To use this strategy successfully, consider the following tips.
Establish Goals and Criteria
Before hiring an outsourced IT staff, or an outsourced staff of any kind, be sure you have in mind what you hope they will accomplish for your company. Determine what “holes” you need to fill and start from there. Also, consider tasks or important initiatives that you may need help with in the near future and as you continue to grow.
Write down each goal along with what the outcomes should look like and your expectations for how the work gets done. For example, does the staff need to be onsite or can they work remotely? Are there certain hours you want the staff to be available? Are there certain systems they must be familiar with? What is your budget?
Reach out to other stakeholders within your company to gather their thoughts and input. Don’t forget to also talk to those who would work most closely with the team as they will probably have some valuable insights as well.
Do Your Research
Now that you know what you’re looking for, you can search for an appropriate outsourcing service. Keep in mind that there is a wide variety of IT outsourcing companies in operation. They vary in size, specialization, approach, location, and cost. Start narrowing down the characteristics of the type of company you’d like to hire.
You might be surprised that some types of providers you may not have initially considered could be a good fit. For example, when you outsource to a company in another country, you can often get some of the same benefits, such as competent service and great communication skills, at a lower price. Any time zone difference may well be worth the savings.
Inquire as to whether each firm you’re considering would provide permanent staff if you end up deciding that’s the direction you want to take. Some agencies allow clients to hire their staff if the outsourced arrangement is a good fit. Others provide ongoing outsourced services that might also suit your needs. This consideration will be important later when you evaluate the current arrangement.
Conduct Thorough Training
To make sure your outsourced IT team has the best chance of meeting your expectations, take the time to train them thoroughly on your systems and projects. Or, if you don’t have an IT person on staff who can “speak their language,” train them thoroughly on your company’s goals and mission. Then ask for them to consult with you on things like hardware maintenance, security, and software development.
After training, give helpful guidance and instruction to correct anything that isn’t going the way you’d like.
Once your outsourced team has been working with you for a time, you can start to check whether they’re meeting your expectations. Let them know you’ll be doing this and tell them their goals for each passing week, month, quarter, or year. At this point, you can refer to the list you made early in the process.
You’ll also want to think about whether it makes sense for your company to have a permanent IT team based on this experience. Ask yourself and other stakeholders questions like:
- Are we better off now than when the outsourced team started?
- Have we met many of our goals?
- Do we have enough work to keep them busy?
- If we were to hire a permanent staff, what would be the comparative cost?
Make the Switch
If you decide to hire a permanent, full-time IT team, decide whether you want to keep the outsourced team that’s already in place, assuming the outsourcing agency allows this type of transition. Other options include hiring a new team as full-time employees or using a combination of the two approaches.
Remember that you’ll have to go through the training process again if you hire an entirely new crew. However, since you already did it once, you should find the process easier and smoother.
Outsourced IT services offer a high degree of flexibility that allows you to use different combinations of workers that best meet your company’s needs. When you’re first starting out, outsourcing an IT crew can give you a feel for what it would be like to hire one full-time. The key to a good result in this arrangement is to know what you want to achieve and to give the team what it needs to succeed.