Should I Outsource IT Project Work? (Advantages & Disadvantages)
Business and IT leaders are used to tackling challenging projects of various types and magnitudes. It’s part of what defines you and drives your passion for success. But, good leaders also know when the organization needs help.
When it comes to IT projects, many small and medium-sized businesses don’t have access to all of the IT resources they need. It’s too expensive to hire all of the specialized employees required to care for all the elements of your complex network.
I get it. As vice president of engineering services at Kelser, I work with organizations just like yours every day. I’ve set up countless projects for clients and know from experience the advantages and disadvantages of working with an external provider on IT projects.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the benefits that your organization can achieve with these types of relationships, based on my years of experience. I'll also point out some potential pitfalls, so that you have the information you need to decide for yourself whether or not outsourcing IT project work would be a good solution for you.
What Is IT Project Work?
Most of us know what project work entails, but let's ensure that we are all working from the same point of understanding.
I define IT project work as any IT enhancement that has a specific goal, a definite start and end date, and associated objectives and deliverables. It can include hardware, software, or both and associated services and activities (i.e. budgeting, planning, development, configuration, and installation).
What Are The Advantages Of Outsourcing IT Project Work?
The typical business owner or manager assumes he or she can tackle challenging projects of varying types. This is the nature of most successful and driven people.
However, assuming your small to medium-sized business can properly handle an array of complicated tech challenges is often a mistake.
It can be more prudent to outsource IT project work to an IT support provider.
Here are some of the advantages of outsourcing IT project work:
As long as you do your homework and compare several options, you will get the specific expertise you need for your project. This will maximize the effectiveness of the solution, ensure an accurate budget, and streamline the project timeline.
External IT support providers know the ins and outs of networks, servers, computers, software, the cloud, and beyond.
There are cost advantages associated with just hiring the highly specialized, in-depth IT assistance at significantly lower cost than hiring full-time in-house IT experts. With external IT support, you have the skills you need when you need them.
There are two time-related advantages:
- You’ll start the project with a better understanding of the time required and
- You’ll add to your resources for the project timeline, freeing up your limited internal IT resources to continue doing what they do best and maximizing their time to focus on daily needs.
If your business is like most, you likely do not have a fully staffed IT department. Or perhaps your team lacks the specific technical skills to complete a particularly challenging IT project.
Maybe you have a handful of experts who are skilled in certain technology niches, but struggle in other aspects of this demanding and constantly changing line of work. You may not have enough people to go around or you may have no internal IT staff at all.
Hiring specific resources to handle a specific project amps up your existing on-staff expertise.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Outsourcing IT Project Work?
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t acknowledge that there are disadvantages of outsourcing IT project work. Here are some to consider:
Security of data is always top of mind. When you allow non-employees to work on your IT infrastructure, there is always a security risk.
The thing to remember is that it is in the best interest of the IT provider to keep your data safe: their reputation relies on it. So, while this is a risk, as long as you choose your provider wisely, the risk is minimal.
Any time you hire someone new to do something with your IT, there is an inherent learning curve.
External providers don’t have first-hand experience with your infrastructure, your users, your contractual, compliance, or regulatory requirements. While it may ultimately be more efficient, you will need to invest some time up front to bring the provider up to speed.
What’s The Bottom Line On Outsourcing IT Project Work?
After reading this article, you have a comprehensive understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing IT project work.
You know that it gives you access to expertise, cost savings, and time-related advantages. On the other hand, you understand that it can also present disadvantages such as security risk and an investment of your time to conquer the learning curve.
The truth is that only you can decide if outsourcing IT project work makes sense for your organization.
Based on our 41 years of experience in the business, we know that many organizations achieve great benefits from outsourcing IT project work.
Our customers often say that working with an external IT support provider makes it possible for their internal team to focus on what they were hired to do, while providing access to experts who have the experience and skills to efficiently and successfully plan and implement complex IT projects.