Even if a job’s worth doing, it’s sometimes better not to do it yourself. Over-worked, under-resourced IT departments are sometimes better off outsourcing some technology tasks to so that they can concentrate on important ones that bring real business benefit. Here are five technologies that many find better to offload to the experts.
Asset lifecycle management
Buying, installing, managing and eventually replacing equipment can be a time suck for IT departments, offering little return. Outsourcing the entire equipment lifecycle to a third party can bring several benefits that go beyond the logistical ones.
One of these benefits is financial. Outsourced asset lifecycle management offers economies of scale, because larger equipment suppliers may have more financial leverage than small businesses. It can also provide extra procurement options such as leasing, which can shift less predictable capital expenses to fixed costs.
Finally, asset lifecycle services can reduce the support burden on IT departments if they include a break/fix/replace support replacement as part of the arrangement.
Just because a task is important doesn’t make it strategic. Cybersecurity is a good example. It’s a cost centre; something that has to be done properly but won’t generate revenue. It also encompasses a complex set of rapidly-evolving problems that most businesses can’t keep up with on their own.
No wonder then, that according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 30% of businesses and 27% of charities outsource one or more aspects of their cybersecurity. Companies can outsource not only obvious tasks like malware scanning and spam protection, but also other functions like intrusion prevention, vulnerability scanning and two-factor authentication.
There are many ways to outsource the hosting of IT equipment. Some companies choose to keep their own servers, perhaps because of sunk costs or the peace of mind that comes with owning their own infrastructure. They can outsource the facilities that house their equipment by putting them in a colocation data centre.
Others go all-in on hosting by not owning their own equipment at all., instead paying to use others’ with varying levels of control. Dedicated or managed hosting provides a dedicated physical server, either on-premises or off-site. Cloud-based hosting spreads virtual resources across multiple physical servers. This comes in three forms:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This provides control at the command-line level.
- Platform as a Service (Iaas). This offers access to services like databases and application components while keeping command-line access hidden.
- Software as a Service (IaaS) . This is good for companies that just want to access software applications online but don’t need to alter the software or control the servers.
Companies with complex network operations can enlist third-party expertise to avoid performance and reliability problems. Outsourcing network management and monitoring enables you to run your business without worrying about traffic drop-outs and security issues. This is useful for companies with complex infrastructures, remotely-connected offices, and for users of demanding, low-latency applications like VoIP telephony.
Managing the administrative tasks that go with email can be a royal headache. Allocating and adjusting inbox sizes, quarantining spam and maintaining uptime can tie up resource-constrained IT departments for little return.
Outsourcing email management to a dedicated provider will generally improve reliability and reduce equipment and staff costs. It can also bring additional services that may not have been easily achievable before such as long-term email archiving.
How can you decide which tasks to outsource from your own IT department? Look at what you can do best in-house, and which supports the goals laid out by your board of directors. Developing a new custom manufacturing system to halve costs and double output might be something that only your team can do. Giving away some of these other more generic tasks can free you to up to pursue the ones that really matter to your company.