It's no secret that a key to the success of your IT leadership strategy hinges on how you use the resources at your disposal. A central component to any effective IT strategy is determining which projects your highly-skilled engineers should work on, and which projects or tasks can be outsourced to an outside specialist.
Often IT managers hesitate in making these crucial decisions, even when they intuitively understand the benefits of outsourcing. Entering into a relationship with an outside vendor might seem overwhelming at first. Because of this, some managers over-complicate the task, which can lead to wasted time and effort.
However, by answering a single question and following a simple path, you can put your efforts back on track and quickly determine when an outsourcing strategy may work best for your organization.
The Question: Can you clearly document your desired outcomes, or are there external factors inhibiting this ability?
Your department might already have a strategic plan that addresses all your IT components in detail. If this is the case, you're able to document what resources are required to achieve your outcomes. You’re also able to determine what successfully attaining your objectives looks like.
However, if you aren’t to the point where you can precisely document desired outcomes, your first step is to determine why. In some cases, the department might be in the midst of a research and development phase where outcomes are not yet clearly etched in stone. Or, the department might be in the process of restructuring, making it difficult to ascertain long-term goals and create a written plan.
If your answer is: I can clearly define outcomes…
If you can clearly define your outcomes, you should pursue a "do something for me" strategy, which is where you transfer responsibility to an outsourcer and hold them accountable to your objectives.
This shared understanding of objectives provides your outsource provider with your detailed game plan, outlining for them the exact deliverable you want accomplished. In this scenario, you must accept your focus is on what gets done, not how it gets done. How something is accomplished is now the responsibility of your provider.
If you engage in a "do something for me" relationship and spend your time focusing on how it gets done, you risk increasing costs, extending time frames, and impacting scope.
If your answer is: There are external factors inhibiting me from clearly defining outcomes…
If you cannot clearly define your outcomes, you should pursue a "help me" strategy. In this strategy, you retain full accountability for producing your outcome, transferring responsibility to an outsourcer on a task-by-task basis.
Your top question to ask when evaluating "help me" outsource providers should be, "What skill sets does this organization have and do they align with what I need?"
Although you've outsourced tasks in this scenario, it doesn’t mean you've abdicated responsibility for producing your outcome. A "help me" relationship means your focus will be on both what gets done and how it gets done.
Take the time now to figure out which type of outsourcing relationship best fits your needs and you'll save time, money, and resources. Equally important: you'll also free up time and energy to focus on innovation, creating, and efficiency.