One of the biggest misconceptions in manufacturing is that outsourced IT only solves back-office problems. More often, it is seen as a way to establish workflows for avoidable concerns, whether they're routine updates or break-fix employee tickets.
Fortunately, increasing awareness of cloud technologies is shifting the way industries across the board are collaborating with outsourced IT experts. Now, rather than operate on a reactive cycle, companies should seek tailored cloud solutions that improve performance officewide.
Why It Seems IT Outsourcing Is Dwindling
A recent Computer Economics report revealed the cost of this misconception. Between 2017 and 2018, spending on outsourced IT dropped from 11.9 percent to 9.4 percent. In addition to relegating outsourced teams to maintenance roles, companies are hiring more in-house IT teams, making outsourced support seem less critical.
Meanwhile, experts predict that spending on cloud infrastructures will account for nearly $1 trillion of overall IT spending by the year 2020. Together, increased cloud usage and higher spending on in-house tech teams has created a sense that outsourced IT can't offer the same level of assistance across departments. This simply isn't true.
For example, outsourced IT experts can focus on larger-scale security initiatives that prioritize the overall health of your network, as well as identify pain points. After a macro-assessment, these experts can take steps to harden the network, such as working with HR to set access levels based on employee status and tenure.
Shifting focus from security to production, outsourced IT can implement platforms that streamline product development and shipping while boosting overall efficiency. A recent report found that when applied throughout the supply chain, streamlined IT solutions can boost productivity by up to 30 percent and save up to 25 percent in expenses. This layered IT strategy is crucial for building and maintaining vertically integrated, organizationwide benefits.
Building an Adaptable Hybrid IT Team
The adaptability of outsourced IT specialists is just one reason they’re key players on your team. They have skills and familiarity with different platforms and the expertise to recognize which best serve employees in specific departments. They can recognize opportunities for optimization and security pain points for each facet of your business.
If you're looking to implement an IT strategy that optimizes both in-house and outsourced experts, consider the following strategies:
1. Divide efficiency needs by department.
Take time to gauge the efficiency and needs of your organization department by department and bring on outside help if you feel like you need it. You should have a general understanding of your employees’ experience with the technology they currently use. This is especially important if you have mobile or remote employees, whose concerns can’t always be immediately remedied in the office.
2. Take a long-term view of your tech partnership.
The technological partners you seek should have the breadth and width of experience that sets up long-term success, not just immediate efficiency. This necessitates a thorough knowledge of security threats, solutions, regulatory and legal compliance, and specific needs within the manufacturing industry.
3. Allow room for a thorough system review.
Conducting a thorough review of your systems will help you develop a strategic plan to improve both daily workflows and the overarching network posture. This plan should be the foundation as your company implements changes and should include clear timelines and departmental benefits for each upgrade.
4. Let employees learn and buy into new systems.
If you expect employees to adopt a new way of doing things, be sure to support them. Provide additional training and acknowledge the learning curve. If they view outsourced IT as both a source of education and a partnership in which they can be actively involved, they’ll be better able to recognize how a hybrid IT system can serve their unique needs.
About 78 percent of companies that choose to outsource vital IT processes are more than satisfied with the results they see. Rather than phase out cloud technologies, companies should utilize more of them and grow in-house responsibilities to successfully integrate outsourced IT into comprehensive hybrid teams. The benefits will allow your manufacturing operation to run more smoothly and powerfully across departments.
Michael Hadley is the CEO and president of iCorps Technologies.