Outsourcing 101 – What To Look For
Ok, so you’ve made the big decision that it’s time to outsource your IT/support desk work. That’s taking a big leap of faith, and you’re probably feeling like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff getting ready to jump. Your brain is busy with questions: Is it going to work? Is this a huge mistake? Where do I start?
Let’s break this down to some of the critical areas you need to focus on to make sure this solution works well for your company.
Competency. Make sure the company you hire has the right background for your needs. Check their credentials and references. Look for negative reviews about the company and how they responded. Ask for testimonials and if possible call those people to discuss their experiences. Vetting a company before you hire them will make sure it’s a good fit for both of you.
Communications. This can make or break outsourcing. When you don’t have the ability to walk into someone’s office to see how a project is going, there is a lot of trust on the line and it is critical that the person working remotely can communicate clearly and with the urgency required. Ask yourself questions like “How well did this company respond in our initial stages of discussion?” “Did they promptly answer my questions clearly?” “Do they understand my primary business objectives and support needs?”
Availability. It’s critical that the company you retain can provide coverage for your geographical area and the hours you need them. If you’re on the East coast and the company you hire is on the West coast, there is a three hour time difference, so your noon is only 9am for them. If you need coverage that starts at 6am or runs late into the evening, make sure the company you’re considering is staffed to handle that.
Cultural fit. Whether you have consciously identified your company culture, you have one, and employees who don’t fit that culture can quickly become toxic to your team. The same applies to any company that you outsource to. You need to identify the fundamental points of your culture and determine if the company is in alignment with your values. If they’re not, save yourself the headache and look for another company that is.
Response times. Whether you’re handling support issues internally or outsourcing, your customers demand fast response to their questions. Make sure the company you are working with has a policy in place for response times, and that there is a measurable way to track this. You’re looking for consistent and timely delivery at all times.
Dedicated account manager. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a question and then to be transferred person to person until the right person is finally identified to handle your inquiry. You need a dedicated account manager assigned to your company so you always have a point of contact person. It’s equally important to have a solid system in place for logging internal support tickets and managing the follow up on those.
By addressing these key issues early on in your process, you’ll maximize the chances that the company you outsource to will be a solid solution for your support needs.