Why Outsourcing Anxiety Is Misplaced


Outsourcing is often seen as a threat by an internal IT department but this anxiety is misplaced. On any given day, an IT department’s schedule will include a rather hefty chunk of day-to-day ‘housekeeping’ – tasks that are fairly mundane but necessary, not to mention time-consuming.

And lets not forget maintenance of existing infrastructure and systems usually represents at least 80% of an IT department’s workload. In the meantime, most IT departments are also being asked to address new business requirements without any additional staff.

Using an outsourcer will often take some of the day-to-day tasks off your desk more quickly and cheaply than getting them done yourself. ‘So far, so good’ you may think; but perhaps there is also a slight nagging worry that by doing this, you could also be doing yourself out of a job.

This fear is not an entirely irrational one: if so much of your time is occupied with maintaining a happy, system-steady state, but that role no longer needs to be provided in-house (by your team), it’s easy to conclude your days at your current workplace might be numbered.

This is very often a key concern for some employees and as such their skills, time and energy are often being drained just ensuring that a standard level of service and uptime is maintained. Too often the default option for many organisations would be for them to expand their internal IT team in order to cope. While such an expansion would certainly have relieved the pressurised team, the better option is to outsource.

So outsourcing IT functions such as website hosting needs to be seen as a business decision, not a means of reducing headcount. In fact, as is often the case, by removing the burdensome task of adapting and managing unreliable legacy systems, IT teams are able to focus its energy on growth plans and for up-skilling existing workers.

And here lies outsourcing’s key benefit for in-house employees, whatever specific role they may hold. For less experienced staff, there is an increased opportunity to tackle more challenging, strategic work early in their career, and to gain desirable skills in the process. For senior managers and CIOs, the redeployment of manpower behind higher-value work equates to more value to the business.

Whichever way you look at it, your work becomes more rewarding and valuable and is far more likely to be acknowledged by the senior management team. As for the business as a whole, freeing up the time of in-house employees means that their comprehensive knowledge of the goals and infrastructure of the business can be put to good use without calling in the services of expensive consultants.

Furthermore, up-skilling and focusing on more interesting work generally leads to higher staff morale and lower employee turnover, providing businesses with yet another opportunity to save money, and to improve efficiencies and work place culture.

Ultimately, with the UK suffering from a skills shortage in the IT industry, it makes much more sense for businesses to focus existing IT staff on higher-value strategic work that maximises their knowledge of the company’s IT systems and their understanding of the business, and to leave the more mundane work to those outside your organisation.

A growing use of outsourcing will not lead to the end of the IT department, but rather will help drive changes that should result in a happier, more productive and more appreciated working unit. I think that’s good news for all concerned, most especially the in-house IT professional.

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Michel Robert is an expert in business development and marketing with particular expertise in the IT solutions sector. He has worked in senior roles across Europe and the US and has more than seven years’ experience in the IT industry. Before joining Claranet UK, Michel was the Solution Director at Dimension Data, a global IT services and solution provider. Michel was responsible for the business development and marketing of Dimension Data’s technology solutions portfolio across Europe, and had particular success in growing the company’s presence in the UK. Michel has also worked in senior consulting and marketing positions for Forward in London (now part of WPP Group), a contract publishing company specialising in direct customer communications, and The Rouse Company, a North American property development company. Michel joined Claranet UK as Managing Director in July 2007, where he uses his experience to drive the development of Claranet's business IT services and solutions offering in the UK.