Outsourcing is one of those subjects that many SMEs often think about, but don’t seriously consider. It’s time to change that.
The pace of technology, the fragility of the economy and the growth of legislation all conspire to stop managers concentrating on what they’re paid to do. As soon as managers and business owners recognise IT services as an enabler rather than a ‘necessary evil’ – focus can be placed exclusively on growing the business rather than worrying about IT – henceforth outsourcing your IT management to a specialist IT services provider is the solution.
There are three primary reasons to choose outsourcing: saving money (Finance), horses for courses (HR), and Cloud computing (IT).
Lower operational and labour costs
When IT is outsourced, companies pay only for what they need and what they use. This applies both to staff and to infrastructure. Where staff is concerned, it is increasingly expensive to buy in all of the expertise that is needed: hardware maintenance support for different systems, user software support capabilities, specialist expertise to monitor legal and organisational regulations and conformance to those requirements, and so on. It’s far cheaper to use the combined expertise of an IT services provider.
It’s similar with the IT infrastructure. Firstly you pay only for what you use. Secondly you benefit from the economy of scale that the provider can deliver and thirdly, you save on capital costs. Quite simply, outsourcing your IT Wisconsin vCISO to a specialist IT services provider will dramatically improve the bottom line of your 2013 balance sheet.
Horses for courses
This overlaps with lower costs, but delivers greater expertise. Few SMEs even try to employ all of the separate experts they really need. For example, with cyber security threats increasingly targeting smaller companies (largely because the criminals have recognised that they are the least well protected), all SMEs really need a chief information security officer (CISO) – but few can afford one. Instead, the whole security threat is relegated to the IT department; which already has enough pressure to maintain and improve the automation of business processes.
Compliance is another problem that will only get worse. There are already many data regulations that must, by law, be followed. This requires specialist knowledge of both the external regulations and the internal systems – and deserves a compliance officer. Indeed, the current draft EU Data Protection Regulation actually mandates that SMEs have a Data Protection Officer. Again, outside of large corporations, few companies can cost-justify separate experts, and consequently delegate the responsibility on a part-time basis to other functions within the company.
The result is that none of these essential areas are adequately covered. It gets worse, however, because the time spent on the additional requirements takes time away from the prime function of the business: being profitable and boosting profits.
The value of outsourcing is that it provides much greater people-expertise at a much lower cost, while simultaneously releasing the client’s own staff to concentrate on their real job.
Cloud computing for SMEs
All Cloud computing is a form of outsourcing, and the advantages are well known (see, for example, the EU’s document Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe). But just as the advantages are well known, the potential disadvantages (especially within security and compliance) are also known; for example the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) recently warned that Cloud computing, “presents many challenges in particular as to the appropriate level of data protection offered to data processed therein.”
But there is a difference between the public Cloud and a private Cloud, and none of the problems associated with the former are relevant to the latter.