Outsourcing, not 'body shopping', enables business
By Jaroslav Cerny, CEO of RDB Consulting.
Outsourcing has become commonplace. It has become an integral part of many successful businesses, with surveys and analyst reports regularly pointing to outsourced solutions as responsible for growth and profitability. This, says Jaroslav Cerny, CEO of RDB Consulting, is mainly the result of the cost savings and resultant efficiency that outsourced solutions provide.
However, there's a big difference between a "body shop" that supplies technicians to get a business through a tough time, and one that is a long-term IT partner. "Cost-cutting is important for businesses in today's tough economic climate, so the question of whether or not to outsource services remains particularly relevant. However, this decision needs to evaluate the balance between short-term gains and long-term efficiencies," says Cerny.
This is especially true in the field of database administration, where specialised skills are both the argument for and against an outsourced approach. "The question you have to ask is what more you would get from an outsourced service that you wouldn't necessarily get from a full-time resource. There are various value-adds outsourcers provide that in-house resources often don't have the time or capacity to offer," Cerny points out.
He adds that while short-term outsourcing allows companies to bring in an expert for a defined period of time to perform a specific task or project, this approach doesn't meet longer-term needs. Flexibility is therefore key, and "body shopping" is ultimately unproductive for any business that is looking to use its technology to enable business growth.
"It's becoming harder than ever to separate technology and business strategy. Where a service sits should be a strategic decision designed to support the business, not a reaction to one need," says Cerny.
The right outsourced solution is different for every company, he adds, and provides access to high-end specialist skills that it wouldn't necessarily have access to in-house. Some businesses have in-house staff to handle daily activities, but may need outside help to undertake new projects that don't warrant another full-time employee, or for failover purposes, while others may need a full outsourced service solution. There, therefore, needs to be a planned approach to ensure a customised model that meets a company's needs.
"Signing the contract is just the start, but too often, the client and the provider view it as the end, not starting point. How well you manage the entire process - from before the contract is signed, to managing service level agreements (SLAs) - makes the difference between outsourcing success and failure. Some companies go with the lowest bidder without understanding what effect it will have on the business," Cerny says. "It is as critical to have access to a pool of skilled, dedicated and experienced resources as it is to have the right relationships with the business, and the right model."
Frequent and clear communication between the provider and the client help maintain the momentum and consistency of any project, but it's the way specialist skills and expertise are delivered that ensures superior service, he adds. "This is the main reason why companies appoint us. Whether it's having a resource shadow someone at a company to ensure uptime, or the provision of a full-service solution, we provide skills, not bodies. Our pool of specialist resources provides access to economies of scale and a flexible approach, which means we deliver on both quality and cost."