22 June 2023

Build Back Better – making strategic moves with IT outsourcing

Build Back Better – making strategic moves with IT outsourcing

Organisations are working hard to find new ways to grow in a post-COVID world. Part of this process involves refocusing their IT strategy – and IT outsourcing can play a critical role in this endeavour.

There have always been organisations that are resistant to change. These businesses feel that the processes in place do the job, and because they are adequate to achieve their goals, the methods stayed put.

In a post-COVID world, some businesses still operate this way because it’s easier, cheaper, or more convenient. Continuing with the status quo doesn’t interrupt their efficient systems or risk resources on potentially unprofitable projects.

However, these organisations are rare. While many companies pre-COVID operated in stable markets, industries, and economies, they still built out long-term IT strategies that helped them manage change.

Post covid market introducing new challenges

  • Distributed teams with work-anywhere methodologies are the new normal.
  • IT strategy to move beyond video meetings, focus on embedding cloud-first computing in daily operations.
  • Quality IT management and support needed to drive value, mitigate IT risks.
  • High demand for ICT talent is helping to drive the Great IT Resignation.
  • New projects + IT staff shortages mean skill gaps inhibit progress

At the same time, organisations found that the value added by IT plays a crucial role in daily operations. And yes, you’ve heard it before, but we’ll repeat it – remote work is here to stay. Not for every organisation or industry, but the drivers behind decentralised offices and work-from-home (WFH) arrangements make sense from a business perspective.

The need to build back better

  • Geographic distribution requires a re-think of the IT strategy roadmap
  • IT strategy to move beyond video meetings to focus on embedding cloud-first computing in daily operations
  • Cloud apps, UCaaS for better collaboration and communication

While supporting remote work is a significant part of this shift, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Innovation and collaboration have become integral goals of normal business operations. And these goals depend, in turn, on the systems that support an organisation’s ability to interact.

If the capacity is lacking, stakeholders may resort to risky workarounds to get the job done. These reactions alone are good reasons to consider digital transformation projects to ensure information security.

The increasing pace of digitisation sees less and less reliance on analogue work while helping to meet stakeholder demands for low-to-no-touch solutions. At the same time, digitisation is helping to drive more resilient business practices that aim to enhance business continuity and efficiency.

But this shouldn’t come at the cost of quality.

Why ‘best fit’ beats ‘first to market’

The organisations that can pursue these digitisation projects efficiently will gain substantial and lasting advantages over those that don’t. Most industries that can are already moving to cloud-first environments supported by UCaaS solutions. It’s not a rare occurrence. So what makes the digital difference between building back better and keeping up with the crowd?

In these circumstances, IT strategy has a significant role in shaping the desirability and efficiencies of many organisations – not just the profitability – offering the means to save time, reduce costs, and reduce dependence on human involvement.

Because of the cyclical nature of IT strategy, one action can impact on other areas of operations. Which means it pays to find out in advance what those impacts might be, and to plan accordingly

In short, COVID-19 has not only shown us that every business needs IT to enable innovation and collaboration, but that the IT must be fit for purpose in order to be efficient.

Unsurprisingly, this is easier said than done. For many, the core strengths stem from their core capabilities – which are not often focused on IT.

Building back by refocusing IT helps mitigate risks

Given that organisations are now facing a strategic reality that rewards geographic flexibility and zero-touch solutions – and that IT is one of the best ways to facilitate these strategic moves – it’s a clear win to build up an organisation’s IT capability.

Quality IT supports smooth business operations and helps protect against cyber threats, talent loss, slow responsiveness, missed opportunities, high staff turnover, and lower profits.

Just as IT supports almost every facet of organisational interaction, it’s equally important to ensure that your IT capabilities are up to scratch. If you don’t have the staff, you need to find them – fast.

Yet as experience tells us, recruitment is not always so simple.

Managing the great IT resignation

  • A large number of ICT professionals are changing jobs.
  • Employers are struggling to find and retain staff.
  • Costly to recruit, pay, train, and onboard new team members.
  • Smaller internal teams are more prone to disruption than large MSPs with the scale to cope.

Take a quick look at your colleagues – whether online or in the office. How many of them are new? How many do you know are thinking of leaving?

A recent report investigated the impacts of COVID-19 on Australian markets. Involving over 1,200 working Australians during the survey period 25 November to 13 December 2021, the survey found that 21% of Australians have changed jobs within the last year. That’s just over one in five.

If your organisation has in-house IT, that number jumps up to 28% – or nearly one in three. The next bracket (1-2 years) sees only 10%.

This means it’s open season for IT professionals

Another survey focused on Australian ICT professionals looking for work or considering changing roles in the next two years. It asked 750 professionals to rate how they viewed factors that drive them to apply for a job. The top three responses included salary, work-life balance, and the opportunity to develop a career.

The economic shutdowns and enforced stay-at-home orders meant that many people in IT had the time and space to examine what they wanted from their employment arrangements. And nearly one in three found it lacking.

This leaves organisations looking to strengthen their IT capabilities in a bit of a bind. They not only need to keep their skilled staff (if they have them) but they also need to grow IT capacity. All while the very people  they need to attract are becoming increasingly in demand across every industry.

IT outsourcing steps into the ring

In IT, the decision to outsource is primarily the result of significant disruption. Given the need to build back better after the lockdowns of 2020 and beyond, these disruptions may include key personnel loss, technical upgrades, growing compliance needs, and the need for additional flexibility. Not to mention the usual business adjustments to market pressures.

Types of IT outsourcing

  • Internal staffing
  • Fully supported IT
  • Hybrid

IT outsourcing can free management time to focus on responding to changing market conditions, business strategy, and practical execution. It can also help focus internal IT staff on critical business systems that add value.

In the wake of the uncertainty caused by extended lockdowns, future business requirements and current working arrangements need careful attention to ensure business continuity. There’s no telling what will happen. But with IT outsourcing, you can start to refocus your IT strategy on building back a better organisation that can withstand change, adapt, and even thrive.

What kind of businesses build back better with IT outsourcing?

The Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) is responsible for delivering programs that support professional athletes, with training and facilities that help them compete at the highest levels. See how they used their time during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2021 to rebuild their ICT infrastructure. By partnering with First Focus, WAIS now has a cloud-first IT environment that enhances collaboration and innovation – both inside the organisation and with external stakeholders.

Case Study: Western Australian Institute of Sport

Are there cases where IT outsourcing does not work with strategic planning?

IT outsourcing is not meant to be a strategic cure-all. It helps to fill knowledge gaps, enhance capabilities, and improve efficiencies.

However, this does not mean that outsourcing is immediately better.

When in-house resources continually provide value. While you may find value in transitioning to a strategic co-managed IT arrangement, these solutions only work if you work to retain the people and technologies that deliver value.

When money is not an issue, then there’s a chance that adding IT outsourcing to the mix can disrupt existing efficiencies that provide value. The potential costs saved by moving internal IT tasks to an external provider can result in lowered performance due to transitional disruptions in service or the loss of key personnel.

In these cases, it is usually better to keep IT at least partially in house.