The Outsourcing Conundrum

The first round of “outsourcing” was focused around the physical shift of employees from their one country to another for cost savings (moving support staffing from the United States to India for example, or moving manufacturing to China).

The current round of outsourcing doesn’t necessarily have to do with shifting geography, but from shifting responsibility and skill from an organization to a third-party. It could be about using managed services or moving to “the cloud” in some form or another.

The question now doesn’t seem to be “if” an organization should be outsourcing, but “what” and “how much”. If some administrators would have their way, it seems like they would completely and totally outsource their information technology needs to an outside provider in the hope that things would work out.

I can’t help but think going that extreme is nothing less than a huge and glaring mistake.

So if we can’t outsource everything, what things should we be working to keep “in-house” when it comes to technology?

Basically, ask yourself this: what are the goals of the institution? If something is directly involved with the mission or goals of the institution or organization, those things should be kept as close to home as possible.

What are you held accountable for by law? That might be a good place where you DO want to invest some effort into keeping it as close to home as possible. This is another lens through which to look at a pending decision.

Think about what sorts of skills you want your IT workforce to have. What do you need a quick response to? If you are outsourcing major parts of your IT staff and infrastructure, when something happens, you are now bound to that company. Even if you have a good relationship, that company does not care as much about you as you and your own staff do.

Outages happen (even to Google, I can assure you), so try not to look outside every single time but think hard about what outsourcing is going to mean for your organization and talk with your current staff to get their perspective on things. They might have some ideas on how to improve things too.