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The practice of IT outsourcing is now well over 20 years old, and yet, there are still many managers and employers who fail to effectively implement the learning and experience from that period.

Fortunately, there are organizations who exploit the good behaviours and develop best practice in the industry. By developing and demonstrating these behaviours, you will invoke a strong relationship and ensure the success of your tasks.

Those who fail to take heed of the best practice in outsourcing make costly mistakes, both in terms of fiscal and reputationally. Here are some IT outsourcing mistakes to avoid in 2018.

1. Treating Symptoms, not Root Causes
Just like self-medicating, many people treat symptoms and not causes, the same can be found when outsourcing your IT for a variety of reasons.

If you are working with a vendor who keeps pushing a new technology or a service you haven’t asked for, then you must ask why. Instead of simply palming off the suggestions, delve deeper. Are the organization trying to use your project for their own gains or are they on a commission? Or are they genuinely trying to help and make you a success? Always get to the bottom of things before making a decision.

The same principles can be said if your outsource provider is failing or not performing to the required standard. Don’t rush to blame, there may be valid reasons for the issues, which you may inadvertently exacerbate by pointing the finger. After all, the problem might be you setting vague, unclear or unrealistic goals. This is the area where you can define your reputation, are you the sort or manager who will rush in and blame without the facts, or will you be known as the pragmatic and resolute manager who people are keen to work with?.

2. Poor Communication

Directly linked to your reputation and ability to be collaborative is your communication skills. In a digital world where everything is recorded, it is vital to impart your requirements and communications clearly and openly.

All communication must be a closed loop, you must allow your outsourcer to be free to engage with your organization in a blame-free culture where they can admit to mistakes, difficulties or relationship concerns.

Ensure you facilitate communication with your vendor who may be overseas, it is not good management to arrange teleconferences or VTC when it may be the middle of the night where they are located!

3. Bespoke, Non-Compatible Platforms or Software
As tempting as it may be with the offer of lower priced, technologically advanced bespoke platforms and software, don’t. In this scenario, you can quickly find yourself stuck with ‘Vendor Lock-in’.

By inducing vendor lock you will find yourself potentially faced with skyrocketing costs. Becoming completely dependent on one provider for your service will make it expensive and difficult to improve services, change provider or bring things back in-house if required.

When outsourcing you must ensure you use a common platform or software, such as .Net or Java, which could be moved to another provider or brought in-house if required.

4. Cost Over Quality

Any entrepreneur would agree that saving money and obtaining products and services for as low a price as possible is good business. This is true, but not in every case.

When outsourcing, never compromise quality. Do your homework when assessing potential providers. There are many organizations who claim to specialize in outsourced IT services but the truth is often they are not. They will lure you in with low costs and claims of ability is exactly what you are looking for.

You must shop around, those who are actually experts in their fields won’t compromise on their prices, they know the value of their worth. Seek out reviews and previous customer feedback and it will reveal the true picture or an organization.

Take the opportunity to review potential suppliers and look at their website and social media platforms. A quality provider will have a quality website and respectable social media bases.

5. Direct Outsource to Customer Interface
It can be detrimental to your business to allow direct contact between your customer base and your supplier.

You and your internal team will wholly understand the organizational principles and goals with regards to customer service, your outsource will probably not. By having that direct interface you run the risk of poor reputation or inconsistent service to your clients.

All correspondence from your supplier that is destined to a customer must go through your internal teams for vetting.

6. Not Thinking About How You’ll Exit the Relationship Eventually

Unless your outsourcing is for a clearly defined deliverable, it can almost be guaranteed you haven’t even thought about your exit strategy. This is a big mistake, there will come a point where you need to plan what is going to happen to your contract and your outsourcing supplier.

Failure to address this can leave you in a difficult situation, you risk damaging not only your reputation for poor management but your actions could result in people losing their jobs. Prior planning allows your outsourcer to be able to identify when they need to undertake actions to reallocate staff or seek other contracts. They will thank you for the honesty and foresight.

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