Outsourcing has become extremely popular with the IT function of larger businesses, due to the high acquisition costs of computer hardware and software, coupled with the high management costs of employing support staff. IT services outsourcing are reinforced by a long-term service level agreement (SLA), which defines every aspect of service delivery, including call to fix response times, hardware infrastructure provided and supported, asset utilization and responsibilities of the client. 10 ways to choose your best outsourcing partner are-
1. Communication, Everything is in Communication
Cultural differences apart, the strength and effectiveness of communication channels employed by a company speaks for itself while you take stock on the expectations Vs delivered. It would be a good idea to see what kind of systems the company has employed to enable efficient communication with their customers. Things to look for would be online communication and collaboration systems. Some examples would be basecamp, online conferencing solutions, centralized project commit space and a smooth execution of the same while interaction with you as a customer. Look for openness in communication. The amount of transparency seen at the communication channels also shows a strong process oriented service delivery as well as it shows the strength of communication abilities of the team members. This results in better understanding of the project and gives more time to do the right things.
Also, when dealing with an outsourcing company, the language of choice must be addressed upfront. It is crucial to effectively and clearly communicate the scope and direction of the task/project to a contractor, and this is especially true if you are working with someone for whom your language is not his or her native tongue. Communicating using several channels is advised. This way you can determine ability to communicate both verbally and in writing. Additionally, I recommend requesting an email or phone conversation in which they repeat back to you what you conveyed to them about the project/task to make sure nothing was lost in the translation and they grasp the assignment.
2. Exposure to country specific work/busines culture
I strongly feel that as business continues to expand globally across communities, cultures and countries and brings different people closer, it is absolutely necessary for people to understand, appreciate and respect the religious and cultural differences existing between the two business communities. Understanding the business culture of the country and then learning the skills of proper etiquette, manners and inter cultural communication is a must for industries functioning internationally. Years of exposure with international customers and face to face interaction are very important for both the businesses to sustain the work and deliver with utmost satisfaction to both business parties.
Many vendors put employees through tough training schedule. In addition, cultural differences include religions, modes of dress, social activities, and even the way a question is answered. Most offshore companies have cultural education programs, but executives should not assume that cultural alignment will be insignificant or trivial. Because, such kind of training helps to maintain good relationship with clients.
3. Taking Ownership of the projects and past experience
When I speak about Ownership, I am basically talking about a company’s ability to convert a problem into a solution. To get a trusted partner who you can outsource your IT requirements is a humongous task, and, knowing about the company’s background and the level of ownership that they put into each and every project they handle can be an important criteria of judging their capability. Run a test project, see how they tackle issues and based on your satisfaction level, you can entrust them with your project. Secondly, experience. You need to research well beforehand about the level of experience the outsourced vendor has in the field. You need to ask yourself these specific questions- Have they done this before for similar products or services and for how long? Will they help you make your business/product/service better by being a Trusted Advisor? If the answer to all these questions is ‘Yes’, then you are one step closer to finding the correct option for outsourcing your dream project!
4. Size of the projects the company has handled
Your requirement is your main objective! So, before randomly selecting an outsourced vendor by just looking at the years of experience as the main criteria, you need to hold back and look at your requirement and whether the company you are about to hire has the capability to undertake the project that you have in mind. Look deeply into the portfolio and identify the depth of the projects that have been handled by the service provider. The research that you do on the portfolio does have an added benefit of making you realize the potential of the company and how far they can go to make your needs met. For example, look into the portfolio for the size of the projects that have included IT infrastructure management, helpdesk support, technical support, server management and so on. From this statistics you will be easily able to find the correct match for your outsourced needs!
5. Attention to detail
One of the most important thing to note while outsourcing your dream project is how much the outsourced vendor is ready to provide you with the ability to retain control over IT strategies while you benefit from reduced operating costs and risks without compromising service delivery to end users and their clients. The attention to detail part can be related to the way the service provider handles a project, i.e. Are they able to provide the end customer the same care you had thought up in your mind? If not, then move on and find another provider, as, losing end customers due to poor service will really hurt your business. Attention to detail also comes into power when the service we are talking about is an application to be developed. You have certain aspirations about your dream project and how it should be molded. If a specific provider is careless about such important aspects of project handling and attention to detail, then there is no point wasting your time or budget on them. Choose a service provider who cares about your project as much as you do, choose a provider who understands the dynamics of your project and is capable of providing the required attention that it deserves.
6. Client references
If you have someone who you can trust completely as a client and are willing to take his word for it, then, client reference is the best way to choose a service provider. The advantage that you have here is that, you can see the result the client has achieved in-front of your own eyes! You can ask a client(if he is close enough) for detailed reports about the project that was outsourced, who it was entrusted to, how were the results, how is the application working, how is the after sales support and how was the end impact on their end customers. If such an option is available with you then there is no need for you to look any further as basically you have found the best match for your outsourced project need!
7. Industry Exposure
A huge portion of IT outsourcing failure comes from outsourcing companies having close to nil industry exposure. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by any element of your disaster recovery procedure when faced with a real incident. Mark my words! So, choosing an outsourced partner who is up and ready with a solution any time you face an issue is of utmost importance. A solution to any problem? You may think that is a lot to ask from any provider. You are sadly mistaken, because with the correct mix of industry exposure and experience any technical glitch can be strategically handled. Look for a provider who has had exposure in the industry for a long period and also has successfully handled numerous projects with positive results.
8. Client base and Customer size
We have supported businesses of all sizes. We have global presence and an ever growing client base. Sounds familiar? Almost all IT outsourcing companies offer the same information on their websites, but, to really understand the truth, go behind their back and do an individual research on the company. That is from top to bottom. By doing a background study you will easily be able to know the facts about a company and what actually is the size of the projects handled and client base.
9. Performance based contracts
The advantage of having a vendor contract is they are bound to certain levels of service and quality. An example of this is if your IT function is outsourced and the technician calls in sick, it is the vendor’s responsibility to find someone to replace them and meet your support needs. You should have the freedom to continue or terminate a contract based on the performance of the vendor.
10. Turnkey provider
When choosing your outsourced partner, it is important to review your business targets. If aggressive targets are the need of the hour then you should ensure the provider offers you room to grow. For example it is essential that you know your budget and deadline restrictions to ensure that the provider can meet the project deadlines on budget. Another thing to determine is the key priorities of your businesses, like for example staying within schedule or budget, building your existing brand identity, or training your staff.
Some of the so called cons can be avoided, or at least minimized, if the outsourced workers are viewed as part of the team as opposed to a completely separate entity. Communication and building a relationship of trust and respect are key factors in any successful partnership. It takes time for this type of relationship, and the systems to support it, to evolve. But it will be definitely be well worth your effort!