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So how do you secure all benefits of this outsourcing wave without getting dragged into undertow? The key is strategic, selective outsourcing. According to Corey Ferengul, VP of IT research firm META Group, an increasing number of companies are choosing to outsource non-core IT tasks. Common responsibilities going to third-party providers include Web hosting, call centers, data storage, and database administration.
"There's a learning curve and a life cycle to outsourcing," said Caldwell, "and it can be expensive finding right vendor, as well as going through transitions of taking your operations to that vendor." Stable, yet customizable IT functions provide an excellent training ground for outsourcing. Any function with known benchmarks for performance and results, as well as available, reliable outsourcing partners is a good place to start.
Ultimately you may want to outsource your entire IT department, but first you need to get a handle on managing an outsourced process. Some companies may discover they don't need to incur risks and organizational chaos of switching to total IT outsourcing. By nimbly carving out and outsourcing small pieces of IT function that deliver most cost and quality benefit, companies may find they are already receiving maximum savings at minimal risk. However, they will have done some carefully planned and executed experimentation before making that decision.
Gertrude Ederle once said of sea "I never feel alone when I'm out there." The channel became her ally as she swam her way to England in record time. By starting on a small, strategic scale, you'll turn IT outsourcing into your ally rather than a cold, tumultuous, foreboding sea.
Jenne Wason works with The Pythian Group, a leading database administration firm.