Buyer Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

By 2011, the worldwide information technology market is predicted to surpass $1 trillion dollars.  Hosted applications make up the fastest growing segment of the IT services market, at 15.9 percent per year, followed by business outsourcing, growing at 10.4 percent per year.  Businesses owners are learning that certain operations can be performed more quickly, more efficiently, and for less using a professional that’s not an employee- why hire an entire IT department when an outsourced solution is able to work just as effectively? 

IT consulting can be a complex process to research, mostly because companies vary so widely in the services they need.  A small business in the rural U.S. might not need a multi-million dollar contract with overseas outsourcing firm- they may just want a professional to handle web hosting, web programming, data backup, or server management.  Information technology services fall into a few major categories: First, there are those companies that require a comprehensive IT solution- security concerns, software maintenance, equipment purchases, employee training, and more.  These businesses tend to be larger companies that can afford a “turnkey” solution.  On the opposite end of the spectrum are those companies that just need someone to manage hosted software and act as a maintenance professional when technology problems arise.  Both types of businesses should be able to find the IT services they need with a bit of research.

Who should outsource?

Outsourcing IT isn’t for everyone.  It works best for businesses that have a fairly good idea of their own capabilities and constraints- those that realize they need more expertise, time, or resources than an IT employee or even department would be able to provide.  Here are a few hints that outsourcing might be a good idea:

  • It’s hard for your company to retain or attract the quality of staff that you require.
  • You can’t devote a concrete amount to IT spending in yearly budgets.
  • Your business could benefit from of-the-moment technology, if only you knew how to implement and manage it.
  • The business structure or the business itself is undergoing significant changes (merging with another company, being purchased) that make hiring or structuring departments difficult.
  • You’re looking for help on a per-project, or temporary basis. 

Before you get price or service quotes and compare companies, it’s a smart idea to identify the types of services you’re looking for, as well as any budget, logistics, or security constraints.  This guide outlines the basics of IT outsourcing:  What you can expect, which services are easiest to contract for, how billing and contracts work, and how to protect your business from potential security breaches.

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