For companies that lack a fully staffed IT department, whether because of budget constrictions or minimal need, creating a knowledgeable team for an IT project can seem difficult. Outsourcing provides an excellent solution to this issue. Outsourcing work for your IT project allows you to draw from the knowledge of talented professionals on an as-needed basis, giving you the flexibility of bringing in high-level experience without the full-time wage commitment. The potential drawback to this arrangement is the learning curve necessary for outsourced professionals to understand your company’s culture and your goals for the project. Fortunately, by using some common-sense best practices, you can help bring your experts up to speed on your expectations with minimal disruption and lowered risk for costly mistakes. Check out these five best practices in outsourcing project work to ensure your next project runs smoothly.
1. Have a fully developed, detailed project plan in place.
Every project will benefit from a clearly laid-out road map to completion, but this element is especially important when outsourcing your IT work. Not only will this set concrete guidelines for your external professionals to follow, it will also highlight your expectations for each individual’s contribution. This can save you time by answering any anticipated questions from your hired experts and minimize mistakes by providing specific guidance through each phase of the project. A well-crafted plan should include:
- A description of the project
- An overview of the project budget, including billing practices
- Detailed duty and performance expectations
- Concrete deadlines
- Lists of the resources and skills needed for completion
- Internal company contacts
2. Make communication a priority.
IT projects often require highly complex tasks, and there are times when expectations must be altered to match unrecognized limitations. For IT work to proceed smoothly, establishing a solid line of communication between outsourced IT professionals and a liaison within the company is an important step. Anticipate a regular back-and-forth to ensure the company’s needs are being met and the IT experts have the ability to deliver on expectations. If it is a large and complex IT project, it may be beneficial to open this line of communication with someone in the company who has the knowledge and authority to make decisions on how to proceed if there is an issue. This also ensures someone within the company is tasked with checking in regularly to assess whether the project is being completed on schedule and confirm that IT workers have the resources they need to complete their assigned tasks.
3. Make sure your systems are compatible with your expectations.
Investing in IT projects can be a great way to increase the efficiency of your company’s operations and improve the experience of your customers. It’s important, however, to assess whether your base systems have the capability of keeping up with any integrated changes. If you have an IT project planned and are preparing to seek out your IT talent, make sure the systems they must work with are not going to limit what your outsourced IT professionals can provide. If any upgrades or repairs need to be done, it’s best to take care of these issues before bringing in new experts who may not understand the complexities of your internal procedures. Don’t make the mistake of dropping every IT problem into the lap of your outsourced professionals, taking their valuable time away from the project for which they were hired.
4. Choose the right IT projects for outsourcing.
Not every IT project should be outsourced. In fact, outsourced projects should be limited to those that will take time away from you and your employees doing what you do best. In other words, identify the areas of your business that make up the best use of your time. If you find other tasks are hindering the time you can spend on those items, they may be appropriate for outsourcing.
5. Remember that you get what you pay for.
It may be tempting to limit yourself to budget options when looking for IT professionals, but this is likely an area you don’t want to cut corners on. Outsourcing already saves your business the expense of maintaining a full-time IT department and reduces the chance for costly mistakes. A lower-priced option might seem tempting, but you’re likely to get lower-quality results to match. Ideally, you want a company that offers a similar experience to an in-house team but at a lower price than what you would pay to maintain one. Cheaper services may offer less expertise or could cut corners in other ways that can affect the outcome of your IT project.
Outsourcing project management work is a great way to get the experts you need on a budget. By following these best practices, you increase your chances of successful completion and make the entire project a smoother experience for everyone.