Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 2nd 2013 Contents BG22 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 2013 • WEEK ONE
The hype around cloud-com-
puting, a surfeit of service
provider options, and the
ever-present target of reduc-
ing costs and improving effi-
ciencies, are all spurring on
a trend in the world of corporate information
technology (IT). It is the move to outsourcing
IT functions, popularly referred to as managed
With managed IT services, key areas of an
organisation s IT infrastructure and service
delivery capacity are outsourced to an external
vendor, as opposed to being fulfilled by in-
house staff or in-house resources. Under this
arrangement, a managed services provider,
or MSP, either takes over a certain area of
an organisation s IT function full time or acts
as a part-time support resource.
Managed services is not a new concept. It
bears close resemblance to the outsourcing
craze of at the turn of the century. What is
different this time is the way providers are
being empowered by web and mobile tech-
nology to structure and present their offerings.
Still, for all the hype, managed services may
not be the solution to every organisations IT
resource constrained needs. However, they
do present a particularly appealing model
small to medium-sized enterprises.
In-house IT staff easily get bogged down
dealing with important but mundane and
These activities can take up precious time
that could be better spent performing more
higher-value duties like capacity planning,
overseeing strategic initiatives that bring
greater value to the enterprise.
MSPs offer to help by taking specific IT
burdens off of their clients and freeing them
to focus on running their business. Still, the
decision to move to managed IT services can
be far from straight forward. There are pros
and cons taking your organisation down the
managed services road.
More focused IT teams: An MSP can take
over the routine daily tasks and allow internal
IT departments to be more efficient and
Managed spending: MSPs allow IT depart-
ments to pay only for what they need. This
can free up vital funds for other projects and
Access to knowledge: Organisations may
not always have the budget or full-time
demand for an experienced professional in a
given area. An MSP can provide access to
knowledge on an on-demand basis and can
also help augment internal capacity.
While the benefits of moving an IT service
to an external services provider can be great,
it can come at a price. There are many success
stories; but there are also many tales of fail-
ures. Some potential drawbacks include:
Internal resistance: IT professionals can
be quite territorial. If not carefully managed,
an MSP can be received as a threat and inter-
nal IT staff can put up passive or active resist-
ance to surrendering control to a third party.
Increased administrative burden: An MSP
can inadvertently shift the internal burden
from technical services to administrative
responsibilities. Small organisations in par-
ticular may have challenges staying on top
of the administrative requirements involved
in maintaining an MSP arrangement.
Proper vetting: MSP can come in all shapes,
sizes, price-ranges and delivery capacity. The
industry is still evolving and, if you are not
careful, it is as possible to land a MSPs as
it is to secure a good one. The onus is on the
IT department to do due diligence. It will be
worth your while.
Down time, lost money, and unhappy cus-
tomers can all be the scars of a failed managed
For executives contemplating outsourcing
IT services, there are some key considerations
to make when formulating an outsource strat-
1. Start by looking within. Gaining a
business view of internal IT services can pro-
vides invaluable insight into how IT is sup-
porting the company and what opportunities
available for outsourcing.
2. Engage the team. Both business and
IT leadership should be involved from the
onset when developing an outsource strategy.
Synchronising the bottom-line and the tech-
nical vantage points can be the critical factor
in determining where investments should be
made, and in assessing if and where out-
sourcing makes sense.
3. To thy own self be true. Be sure to
match hard figures about IT spend and IT
savings against the more subjective factor of
users and other IT stakeholders opinions.
An honest, objective assessment of where IT
is succeeding and where it is failing within
the organisation must be sought and heeded.
4. Understand the value proposition.
How deeply will they have to be involved in
our business? Which areas will they be
responsible for servicing? How exactly will
having them on board free up staff, save
costs, or improve efficiencies? What will the
service really cost in terms of administrative
overheads, business risks, loss of operational
control, and development of internal capacity?
5. Extension of your business. At the
end of the day the outsourcing arrangement
has to service your needs. Finding a vendor
who has both the technical competence as
well as the cultural fit is essential to the ulti-
mate success of any outsourcing arrangement.
Look for a service provider that is proactive
and that can help you understand the realities
of your business processes and potential.
Always remember, however, that every
solution has the potential to create a new set
of problems. An MSP does involve ceding a
certain level of control to an external entity.
Therefore, executives and IT managers should
first take an objective, considered look at
their resources, needs and goals.
That is the best platform for making an
informed decision about whether or not mov-
ing to managed IT services is best for your
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge
officer of Congress WBN (www.congress-
wbn.org), a values-based international non-
profit. He is also executive director of
BrightPath Foundation, an education-tech-
nology non-profit (www.brightpathfounda-
Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding or at:
facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via
e-mail at technologymatters@brightpath-
Five key considerations for business
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