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5 risks of outsourcing your IT infrastructure

Outsourcing IT resources can be hugely beneficial to a company, providing significant cost reductions, more efficient use of time and increased agility. However, companies must assess carefully whether outsourcing is right for them and not simply get caught up in industry trends. Perhaps more pertinently, they must also decide which parts of the organisation will benefit from third-party involvement and which would be better off remaining in-house.

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Organisations that do ultimately decide to go down the outsourcing route will hopefully have weighed up both the potential benefits and the possible risks involved. For any IT leaders worried about making the transition, we’ve listed some of the likely pitfalls below.

Easier said than done

It can be easy to get carried away and decide to outsource as much of your IT resources as you can, particularly when it can save your business money.

However, some IT functions are not easily outsourced and organisations need to know if their third-party vendor of choice has the required expertise to deliver what their customers need. There are a multitude of IT-based tasks carried out by the modern business, ranging from the relatively simple to complex automated operations. An external service provider may be unaware of in-house standards and will need time to become familiar with your systems and networks. Outsourcing your IT isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution.

Lack of control

Although it requires more management, keeping your IT infrastructure internal gives a business full control over all of its data and services.

Although, you may have complete faith in your third-party partner, outsourcing means businesses are not able to carry out updates or software changes whenever they see fit. While it makes sense to outsource a relatively simple feature like email, more critical software may be better served remaining in-house.

Businesses may be particularly protective of sensitive data, but when this information is in the hands of an external company there’s very little they can do to guarantee its safety.

As flexible as it sounds?

While outsourcing can give businesses more fluidity when it comes to upscaling and adopting new technologies, it is important not to take this for granted.

Some outsourced companies will require you to sign up for a set period of time, sometimes as much as a year, so the flexibility provided can be more restricted than originally thought. You may also need to purchase proprietary software in order to work with the external company, making it more difficult switch if you feel like you’re not receiving the level of service you need.

If you end up locked in to a partnership with an inadequate third party supplier, you could end up regretting the decision to outsource your IT business.

Too much cost cutting

There is a risk that as soon as executives see how much money they could save from outsourcing, cost-cutting becomes cutting corners.

IT leaders need to have a clear plan in place for how outsourced services are going to operate in conjunction with internal IT as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Before signing up with an external company, make sure there’s plenty of discussion about how this partnership will work, what level of service guarantees you’ll receive and what security protocols are in place. Outsourcing can provide a fruitful long-term collaboration opportunity, so it’s crucial you take time before making a decision.

Employee morale

Utilising an external company rather than using an in-house team can also negatively affect employee morale. Particularly, if outsourcing means getting rid of existing personnel. If the IT department receives its marching orders, it’s likely that the rest of the staff will soon be wondering when they’ll be on the chopping block, making for an unhealthy atmosphere.

Read more: 5 reasons to outsource your IT

Using third party suppliers also means that employees don’t build up the same level of rapport as they would with on-premise IT staff. External firms may send different engineers each time there’s a problem, making it more difficult to form relationships. While fruitful partnerships can develop as a result of outsourcing, they may need to be worked at.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.