This month we have been looking at the outcomes that come from IT outsourcing, the last two blogs have talked about the potential business outcomes you might expect if you outsource your IT; but what about the IT outcomes? Outcome based outsourcing is the Holy Grail of IT services; achieve a healthy or unhealthy result. Our clients would all agree that if we can tie specific business and IT results to our outsourced agreement everyone would be happier in the end.
The trick is that many IT outsourcers focus on the inputs rather than the outputs. Consider the US healthcare system; today doctors are still incented to perform tests and procedures with few financial rewards tied to the ultimate goal: a healthy patient, I believe the same is true today in many IT companies. Let me give you an example, today many IT companies want to sell you the business owner a “block of hours,” which is a prepaid amount of man hour labor. How does approaching your company IT with a third party and a bunch of man-hours assure you of any type of IT outcome? The truth is it doesn’t, the business owner is lured into thinking he can control his third party IT expense, but they fail to see that the money is going to fixing things, not delivering a great holistic IT outcome. As a result, that block of hours contract wastes money fixing reactive issues as they come up. The great IT outcomes are never realized because all the money goes to fixing the problem of the day and is never placed where it really matters; under the covers deep inside how your network is configured.
As a business owner, ideally you can see the difference between reactive IT support and proactive IT support. Reactive support fixes IT things as they break and proactive support is what an IT outsourced agreement focuses in on, proactively doing the IT best practices that keep your network and IT running at peak efficiency. Lets go back to healthcare, we ultimately have two choices in our life regarding our health: be reactive and wait for an issue or become proactive and focus in and do what we are told are the healthy best practices. You can sit in a lazy boy and drink beer and eat Twinkies and reactively get rushed to the hospital when you inevitably have a heart attack and hope for the best, or you can proactively watch what you eat, exercise and really focus on health lifestyle best practices because you know you will end up with a longer lifespan and a higher quality of life. Believe me, the same is true with your IT, become reactive and lazy or work at becoming proactive and healthy. Yes it’s harder to be proactive, yes its time consuming to do the necessary work, but the IT results are guaranteed.
So if you can take that leap of faith with me and see that becoming proactive with your IT will insure you of a better result; then let me show you how to insure you get that great IT result with an IT outsourcer. The IT best practices are well documented: patch your windows servers and workstations, install anti-virus software make certain it is updating and scanning, quarantine all of the files that anti virus software finds, monitor your server logs, daily monitor your back up software, test file restoration etc. The question is not what we should be doing, it is insuring that not only does it happen but also it happens transparently and with a “Service Level Guarantee.” You should look for an IT outsourcer that can produce a monthly report that shows you how effectively all the best practice work is occurring. And more importantly, when it doesn’t occur, you can ask for your money back!
I think you should be able to go further than that; focus in on the reactive things that often do breakdown and expect a higher level “Service Level Guarantee,” on that type of work. For instance if your cable modem goes off-line, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, your IT outsourcer should be able to notify you the device went off line within 15 minutes of it occurring, the outsourcer should be able to email you what their resolution plan is (for instance calling up Verizon or Comcast and getting a service incident opened and trying to get a dispatch time) and finally the repair and resolution time should be documented and completed in less than some guaranteed period of time. Each of these three steps should have a contract time limit, and they should have a money back guarantee if the time performance is not met. Investigate if your potential IT provider is willing to commit to performance guarantees, beware the small providers who don’t have the staffing to commit to a higher level of deliverables. This is the way, you as an owner, can insure your IT outsource agreement does in fact tie IT outcomes to your payment of money each month.
As a business owner, you can get a much higher level of IT performance out of your company infrastructure if you are willing to commit to proactively applying IT best practices, to insure you achieve the IT best practices, consider outsourcing to an experienced IT outsourcer, once you have found an experienced company, take a look at their contract and see if you can find a written service level guarantee that promises a certain level of performance or your money back. If you shop carefully you can achieve the Holy Grail: you can tie IT outcomes to a performance based IT outsource agreement! If you would like to meet and discuss IT outsourcing click here to set up an appointment. If you are not ready to meet, click here to sign up for a free whitepaper on IT outsourcing: 6 Essential IT Outsourcing Strategies.