Vikki Durden, Head of Operations at UK IT Service investigates the benefits of outsourcing work in the wake of COVID-19.
The Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on UK businesses. The resulting economic shutdown means many businesses are operating in the red, while many others are on the brink of closure.
As businesses gradually adapt to the ‘new normal’, survival and success will boil down to improving efficiency and streamlining budgets. With IT investment dubbed a key priority for businesses, the benefits of outsourcing services to dedicated specialists can’t be overlooked.
A scalable solution
It’s widely acknowledged that outsourcing grants businesses greater flexibility. It allows them to tackle tasks when necessary, while simultaneously affording them control over their resources.
This is no more relevant than in the IT department. It’s common for internal IT teams to be inundated with work projects one week, before experiencing periods of downtime shortly after.
The inconsistent nature of IT demand often means it’s both efficient and cost-effective to allocate only the necessary resources needed at any given time, rather than footing the bill year-round.
Working with external providers offers this flexibility. It gives businesses access to IT support when needed and frees up capital in periods of downtime.
It also dramatically levels the playing field for small businesses who, with access to the skills and resources of an entire team of career IT professionals, can pitch for larger, more complex projects.
Outsourcing for the long-term
There is a common misconception among businesses, that outsourcing is just a quick fix, for simple tasks like patching bugs.
However, more businesses are beginning to realise it’s not just a stopgap. So much so, it’s estimated nearly a third of small to medium-sized businesses now outsource work.
Not only does establishing long-term partnerships give a boost to SMEs competing with established corporations, but it facilitates a level of growth that would otherwise require significant investment to fulfil in-house.
Now, SMEs are forming relationships with third-party providers, in which they act as an extension to their team, affording them the time and trust to get to know the intricacies of the businesses like an employee would.
This means, instead of simply being brought in to put out fires, IT service providers can work with a business on progressive tasks – like building out their entire IT infrastructure and providing ongoing maintenance support – to help them achieve their long-term goals.
For many SMEs, this level of progression would not be possible alone, with budgets limiting the potential to grow their internal teams.
A cost-effective solution
Having an in-house IT team has its benefits in speed and reliability, but it can be costly.
To access the brightest IT talent, employers need to invest significantly – covering wages, benefits and additional overheads – and it’s simply unaffordable for many SMEs, especially in current circumstances.
However, when it comes to outsourcing, businesses are able to scale resources up or down to meet demand – so they’re only ever paying when additional support is needed.
It’s a model that facilitates and encourages growth. High-volume projects are no longer a pipe dream for SMEs, with outsourcing opportunities giving them access to the specialist knowledge and labour-power of a team of IT managers.
Once demand eases up, they don’t have to worry about the costs of keeping these IT professionals on the books.
Productivity is vital to business success. However, a lack of direction – without clear roles and defined employee responsibilities – is a stumbling block to productivity.
For SMEs, the unfortunate reality is that employees often experience blurred lines between their responsibilities – jumping on ad-hoc tasks to meet demand and letting their main responsibilities fall by the wayside. It is this constant juggling act that holds many businesses back.
Outsourcing allows businesses to tap into a wider resource pool of specialist skills they may not have within the organisation – easing the pressure on in-house teams, who can focus on their main responsibilities.
For example, a common area of concern for SMEs is cybersecurity, and at a time when attacks are soaring, it’s becoming an urgent issue for businesses to address.
External IT providers can take on specialist projects, like managing cybersecurity, to keep the business secure and compliant, freeing employees up to focus on handling and growing their departments.
Plus, it provides important peace of mind for employers that each task is being managed by dedicated specialists, giving them the greatest chance for success.
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