Circle Opinion

How to find the right IT outsourcing partner

Daniel Oosthuizen
Brian Robertson

Looking to work with an IT outsourcing provider? Finding the right partner to deliver your requirements can be a tricky and time-consuming process. But, done right, a successful outsourcing relationship can bring long-term strategic benefits to your business. We asked our experts to share their top tips on how to find the right IT outsourcing partner.

Evaluate capabilities

Having the right expertise is the obvious and most essential criterion, so defining your requirements and expectations is the best way to start your search.

When it comes to narrowing down your vendor choices, it’s important to consider the maturity of an organisation as well as technical capabilities. “The risk of working with a small, specialised provider is that they may struggle to keep a handle on your project,” warns Brian Robertson, Resource Manager at CACI. Inversely, a larger organisation may have the expertise, but not the personal approach you’re looking for in a partner. “Always look for a provider that demonstrates a desire to get to the root of your business’s challenges and can outline potential solutions,” Brian advises.

Find evidence of experience

Typically, working with an outsourcing provider that has accumulated experience over many years is a safe bet; however, Daniel Oosthuizen, Senior Vice President of CACI Network Services, recommends ensuring that your prospective outsourcing provider has experience that is relevant to your business, “When you bring in an outsourcing partner, you want them to hit the ground running, not spending weeks and months onboarding them into your world.” Daniel adds, “This becomes more apparent if you work in a regulated industry, such as banking or financial services, where it’s essential that your provider can guarantee compliance with regulatory obligations as well as your internal policies.”

So, how can you trust a provider has the experience you’re looking for? Of course the provider’s website, case studies, and testimonials are a good place to start, but Daniel recommends interrogating a vendor’s credentials directly, “A successful outsourcing relationship hinges on trust, so it’s important to get a sense of a vendor’s credibility early on. For example, can they demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your sector? Can they share any details about whom they currently partner with? And can they confidently talk you through projects they’ve completed that are similar to yours?”

Consider cultural compatibility

“When it comes to building a strong, strategic and successful outsourcing partnership, there’s no greater foundation than mutual respect and understanding,” says Brian. Evaluating a potential provider’s approach and attitudes against your business’s culture and core values is another critical step in your vetting process. As Daniel says, “If you share the same values, it will be much easier to implement a seamless relationship between your business and your outsourcing partner, making day-to-day management, communication and even conflict resolution more effective and efficient”.

While checking a company’s website can give you some insight into your prospective provider’s values, it’s also worth finding out how long they’ve held partnerships with other clients, as that can indicate whether they can maintain partnerships for the long-term.

However, Daniel says, “The best way to test if a provider has partnership potential is to go and meet them. Get a feel for the team atmosphere, how they approach conversations about your challenges, and how their values translate in their outsourcing relationships.” Brian adds, “Your vision and values are what drive your business forward, so it’s essential that these components are aligned with your outsourcing provider to gain maximum value from the relationship.”

Assess process and tools

Once you’ve determined a potential outsourcing provider’s level of experience and expertise, it’s important to gain an understanding of how they will design and deliver a solution to meet your business’s needs. “It’s always worth investigating what tech and tools an outsourcing provider has at their disposal and whether they are limited by manufacturer agreements. For example, at CACI, our vendor-agnostic approach means we’re not tied to a particular manufacturer, giving us the flexibility to find the right solution to meet our clients’ needs,” Daniel explains

Speaking of flexibility, determining the agility of your potential outsourcing provider’s approach should play a role in your selection process. “There’s always potential for things to change, particularly when delivering a transformation project over several years,” says Brian, adding “that’s why it’s so important to find a partner that can easily scale their solutions up or down, ensuring that you’ve always got the support you need to succeed.”

Determine quality standards

Determining the quality of a new outsourcing partner’s work before you’ve worked with them can be difficult, but there are some clues that can indicate whether a vendor’s quality standards are in line with your expectations, says Daniel, “A good outsourcing partner will be committed to adding value at every step of your project, so get details on their method and frequency of capturing feedback, whether the goals they set are realistic and achievable, and how they manage resource allocation on projects.”

Brian also recommends quizzing outsourcing providers about their recruitment and hiring process to ensure that you’ll be gaining access to reliable and skilled experts, “It’s easy for an outsourcing provider to say they have the best people, so it’s important to probe a little deeper. How experienced are their experts? How are they ensuring their talent is keeping up to date? What is their process for vetting new candidates? All these questions will help to gain an insight into an outsourcing provider’s quality bar – and whether it’s up to your standard.”

Assess value for money

For most IT leaders, cost is one of the most decisive factors when engaging any service; however,
when looking for an IT outsourcing partner, it’s critical to consider more than just a provider’s pricing model. “Contractual comprehensiveness and flexibility should always be taken into account,” says, Brian. “A contract that is vague can result in ‘scope creep’ and unexpected costs, while a rigid contract can tie businesses into a partnership that’s not adding value.” He adds, “Ultimately, it comes down to attitude, a good outsourcing provider can quickly become a great business partner when they go the extra mile.”

Daniel agrees and advises that IT leaders take a holistic view when weighing up potential outsourcing partners, “Look beyond your initial project, or resource requirements and consider where your business is heading and whether your shortlisted providers can bring in the skills and services you need. After all, a truly successful outsourcing partnership is one that can be relied on for the long haul.”

Looking for an outsourcing partner to help with your network operations? Contact our expert team today.

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Daniel Oosthuizen
Brian Robertson