Outsourcing for productivity
Turning to outside vendors for various IT needs can also reduce your headaches
Back in 2010, right after the great recession ended, I was a guest speaker at several networking meetings for unemployed workers around the state, put on by New Hampshire Employment Security. I would usually start my talks by letting them know how “I, too, was basically unemployed, almost daily because I work for myself.” And, “Another thing you learn when you work for yourself… you learn your boss can be a real idiot!”
This usually got a laugh and their attention. I would imagine now, with unemployment rates below 2.5%, these meetings must be poorly attended. Companies are hiring! “Help wanted” signs are everywhere. In industries such as IT, there’s a shortage of workers. But don’t be discouraged, IT can be simple to outsource if you follow a few rules.
Diversify your vendors
The first step is to put your IT needs into the correct boxes. Placing needs in the wrong boxes can be a bad move. IT boxes are web development, web support, digital marketing, cybersecurity, email hosting, cloud storage and software development. The reason you need to keep your boxes correct is because there are so many skills and talents possessed by different people and companies the logical thing to do is to diversify your vendors. The best example: Your cybersecurity person should not be building your website. Your website support should not be called to help with cloud storage that needs to meet certain standards in your industry.
The right fit?
Some of your outsourced help can be one-person operations or companies with plenty of employees. How do you choose? A small operation affords you that single point of contact. A large operation can offer you more resources. But if your single point of contact is unavailable when you need them, you will be frustrated. With a larger organization you may find a disconnect between your point of contact and the team that implements your work.
Be sure you check references. These days, Google Reviews should be present for any company no matter the size. Trust online reviews over a few references provided by the contractor/company.
Don’t sign a long-term contract. Sign for a year at most with an opt-out clause such as 30 or 60 days notice. Part as friends if you must cancel. Burning bridges is not always the best idea, especially when resources are scarce.
Hold your team accountable
I have owned rental real estate since 2003. Back then, as a young twentysomething, I was sold when the gurus would talk about “passive income.” Years later, I can tell you with experience, there is no “passive income” in rental real estate! The same holds true with outsourcing.
Outsourcing various IT tasks is not passive. Sorry, the excuse that “I don’t know this stuff” is not an excuse! You have to be hands-on with your team. Expect to communicate. Expect to engage and be open about your company’s needs. Expect to get your questions answered. Be ready to sign off on any piece of digital marketing. You have the responsibility to hold your team accountable. Your team has a fiduciary obligation to you. If there is a breakdown somewhere, be ready to take responsibility before you blame your vendor.
Turning to outside vendors for various IT needs can increase your productivity and decrease your headaches (and costs) when done right.
Like anything, plan to spend the time, especially in the beginning to set the right internal and external expectations.
Michael Dolpies operates two businesses in New Hampshire – CyberspaceToYourPlace.com, a web development, hosting and online marketing company, and Twelve 31 Events, a catering company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.