To lock in or not to lock in: Should you choose a long term IT outsourcing support contract?
This is a question the Leap Consulting team is often asked. In fact, to be frank, it isn’t exactly the question. More often it’s something like: ‘Why on earth should I tie into a long term IT consultant or support contract with a company I’ve only recently heard of?’ And, to be honest, we agree with the sentiment expressed, and want to ensure you get outsourcing value within your IT services.
There’s an old saying ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ – you know exactly what that means. Getting into a long-term, binding relationship can be, well, unpleasant. At Leap Consulting, we far prefer an approach characterised by taking gradual, progressive steps – and that most certainly extends to considering whether, and to what degree, you might want an outsourced IT arrangement.
We often happily recommend a cautious course of action to many businesses in WA and beyond. Our preferred approach is to work through three stages with a new client.
For starters, we’ll engage in a small way, perhaps by taking and working with one or two key elements of your IT function. As this progresses, and we begin to understand each other much better, other elements can be added; it is also an ideal opportunity for us to demonstrate our ability to add value, which builds confidence in our broader service portfolio.
From there, it’s a logical step to lock in the security of a full year contract. At the end of this period, both parties should be on the same wavelength to such an extent that a longer term agreement, of perhaps three years, comes with the assurance that your IT requirements can be outsourced with complete confidence.
As the partnership beds in and grows, there are a range of considerations to bear in mind, starting with the value of ‘outside eyes’ contributing to your organisation. Fresh views can deliver worthwhile insights and advantages which might be missed in a ‘wood for the trees’ situation for those working inside the company. Other considerations include:
1) Know the limits (if any) on the services offered.
As important as it is to know what outsourced IT will deliver for your business, it’s equally essential to appreciate what it will not achieve. Judge delivery against promises made. If the SLA says support is offered every moment of every day throughout the year, is it delivered on those occasions when truly needed?
2) Evaluate accreditations against delivery.
Accreditation from vendors is important, but more valuable by far is how those translate into actions at the coal face. Simply being a member of an association or society, for example, means little unless it is backed up by rigorous standards of behaviour. You’ll want to assess the technology used by any outsourced IT provider to deliver on the contract. Does the service provider invest in, and fully understand, the latest and best ways of helping your business run smoothly, or in speedy problem solving where necessary?
As time passes, and you increasingly appreciate the standard of the service offered, it becomes easier to consider a longer-term bespoke support contract. That’s further supported as relationships of trust and mutual value creation form between your personnel and the IT consultants providing support and other services.
While every situation has its own variables, our advice is not to rush into it. Choose a service provider which is confident that it can deliver incremental value and which is capable of proving itself without immediately seeking to tie you into a long-term contract. While there isn’t anything wrong with such an arrangement, it’s best to be sure of what you can expect and who you are dealing with before inking the dotted line.
To discuss how we can work with your company or organisation, feel free to give us a call at 1300 532 748 for an obligation-free initial consultation with an experienced member of the Leap Consulting team.