Companies are under pressure to cut costs while laying the foundations for future business growth. IT outsourcing is the answer, but choosing the right sourcing strategy is not easy when senior managers are demanding increasing business flexibility.
A middle route to IT outsourcing, which leaves all options open, is managed services. These can deliver savings and business efficiencies without robbing a company of its core expertise.
In turbulent times, managing means making hard choices in core areas of the business. Following two extremely tough years for the general economy and the IT industry alike, chief executives are calling on managers to focus on cost-cutting and performance improvements to increase business efficiency.
IT directors are under increasing pressure to find ways to reduce operational costs, achieve productivity gains and increase business flexibility. But this has to be done without committing the business to an inflexible IT strategy or taking any risks.
The quickest and most effective way to maximise the value of staff and assets, and free up resources to concentrate on growing the business, is to enlist the help of third parties.
When it comes to IT, the clear vote-winning strategy of the moment is outsourcing, but managed services are the safe way to test outsourcing waters without getting too wet.
Typically, managed services cater for the operational aspects of IT - one of the key areas of the business that is ripe for savings.
According to Butler Group, up to one third of an IT budget disappears down the black hole that is IT operations, but this area typically consists of bread-and-butter jobs that tie up valuable internal resources.
Such tasks can easily be done more cheaply and more effectively by an experienced third party. Using a managed services provider can not only reduce the cost of IT operations, but can enhance the level of service the resources provide.
Indeed, by enlisting a managed service provider a company can solve its skills shortage and save on infrastructure management and support, while maintaining confidence that its managed service provider is equipped to deal with complex heterogeneous IT environments.
A managed IT service is the equivalent to hedging your bets. It can solve a firm's skills shortage and save on infrastructure management and support, without constraining the IT strategy. And if it shows potential, it could become a stepping stone to full-blown outsourcing.
Difficult times need not mean resorting to drastic measures. Managed services deliver the necessary efficiencies that chief executives demand, while freeing up in-house resources to work on preparing the business for the future - without any lock-in to a particular service provider or IT strategy.
Mark Simmonds is managing director of AnixGroup.
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