Outsourcing means opportunity

The news comes down from the executive suite that the organization is outsourcing some or all of its information technology (IT) functions. Reaction to this news runs the complete spectrum from “I’m going to lose my job,” to “Wow, look at all these new opportunities.” As a true IT professional, what does it mean to you?

Outsourcing is a time of massive change for all parties involved. For the IT professional this creates numerous opportunities to demonstrate leadership and help both the divesting organization and the outsourcing company provide value to their customers and ownership.

IT professionals are, by definition, change agents. In times of great change organizations should be able to rely on their IT professionals to make the transition as smooth as possible. The bottom line target for all involved: no deterioration of service to the users of the computer systems during or after the transition. The IT professional is well positioned to ensure this kind of smooth transition through careful planning and attention to detail where technology transfers may be occurring.

These opportunities form a wide spectrum such as learning new technologies, gaining exposure to other businesses and business processes and general opportunities for career advancement.

Take, for instance, the area of new and emerging methodologies, standards and best practices such as ITIL, ISO 20000, ISO 9001, COBIT or SOA. Many organizations would willingly adopt these but may be delayed or deterred by the cost and process impact of doing so. Outsourcing companies tend to be large IT organizations, with national and international presence who have already adopted these practices to ensure they remain the leading players in the industry. These kinds of companies invest heavily in their IT professionals’ education to ensure the right skills are available wherever they are needed. They have adopted and use industry best practices as a matter of course.

Significantly, for IT professionals moving to the outsourcing company there can be financial benefits, especially in terms of bonus structures. Many organizations do not pay bonuses, and many of those that do focus their schemes on the performance of the organization as a whole.

Many of the outsourcing companies, because of the diverse geographic market, have performance bonuses at a regional or location level as opposed to corporation-wide.

This means that bonuses are more directly related to personal and local team performance.

As with all major change there can be a down side. If an application maintenance and support (AMS) function is outsourced, the retained IT professionals may need to continue working with older technology and lose touch with the next cool thing. In addition, many IT professionals view AMS as less desirable than development, ignoring the benefits of AMS experience such as the ability to multitask, balance your workload, and write good, structured, maintainable code.

And remember, if your résumé indicates you have been successful in one of the large outsourcing companies, it can add to your credibility when seeking future employment.

The worst-case scenario may mean the IT professional is “released” as a result of remote outsourcing or the terms of the outsourcing agreement.

So overall, outsourcing provides a wide range of opportunities to IT professionals. They can provide the leadership to ensure smooth transition and improved performance for the outsourced organization in the future, while building their own skills and career.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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