Andrey Geshel on what is trusted outsourcing* and how to make it work for business
In the largest companies of the world, including Russian ones, the it service for several years has turned from a subsidiary to a leading one, on which the efficiency and flexibility of all business processes directly depend. And this was achieved when routine tasks were given to the outsourcer and moved to the background.
It would seem that there can be no difficulties in this approach, but for its implementation it is necessary not to make a mistake in choosing an outsourcing partner, which means that you should carefully study the it market. In his interview with Forbes, Andrey Geshel, Director of the service center of the company “jet information systems” — one of the largest in the country, told about what to focus on and what erroneous judgments it is better to start getting rid of.
— When did the role of it departments in companies start to change?
— When it departments ceased to be engaged only in working capacity of the equipment and the software, and passed to work with key indicators of activity of the company. Now the it service is faced with the task of cost optimization and business development, and in such a situation it is no longer possible to spend precious time of specialists to solve routine issues. They should work out and formulate tasks that business can solve with the help of it, offer it the latest technologies with the help of which it will become even more effective. And the implementation of these ideas requires qualified and experienced engineers with a very wide range of knowledge. Therefore, those who are going to be on the crest of the wave, can not do without an outsourcer.
— But many managers are wary of outsourcing. What questions do they most often have?
— CIO (information technology Director), which is focused on solving business problems, is well aware that routine operations should be outsourced. Because he simply does not have time to perform them.
Of course, there are those who believe that it is easier to manage your own it service than an outsourcer. However, it is not. Own it service is a set of experts to each of which the individual approach is necessary. In the case of an outsourcer, you need only clearly defined KPIs (key performance indicators) in the contract, and then monitoring their implementation. In this case, CIO will not have a headache about where to look for specialists, how to develop them, how to keep them-this will become an outsourcer’s problem.
Another issue that often worries managers when it comes to outsourcing is the reliability of the service provider. One of the problems of the Russian market is that the choice of an outsourcer is often entrusted to the procurement Department, which focuses exclusively on cost. But cheap does not mean high quality, right? Today in Russia there are a number of outsourcing companies, which a few years ago thanks to price dumping took a significant market share, and today are on the verge of ruin and provide low-quality services.
Another area of concern for business is security. Many people think that managing their own it Department is more reliable and secure than dealing with an outsourcer. But in practice it turns out that you can punish your own employee in only one way — to dismiss. And in the outsourcing contract there is a whole section devoted to information security and responsibility for its violation. And if examples of data leakage through the fault of insiders in the market quite a lot, about the scandals associated with the security breach the fault of the outsourcer, I’ve never heard of.
The fact is that any outsourcing company is very serious about recruitment. All its employees are thoroughly checked by their own security service. That is why a normal outsourcer is always ready to provide penalties in the contract in case of violation of security requirements by its employees — he is sure that this will not happen.
In our practice, there was a case when one of the customers decided to check the employees of “jet information system” before allowing them to work. We gave him all the data he needed. In the end, it turned out that the customer’s security service is working with data from three years ago. While our own not only checks each new employee before we take him to work, but also constantly monitors data about him in the future. After all, for us outsourcing is the main type of business, and we can not risk our reputation!
— What recommendations could you give on choosing an outsourcer?
— Recommendations are simple. The outsourcer must be known in the market, his reputation must be confirmed by a list of specific customers. In addition, I would check how high-quality services it provides — for example, would ask about it his customers.
The third recommendation is to pay close attention to the contract that the outsourcer is ready to sign. If the contract is not a word about penalties for its poor performance, such an outsourcer can not be trusted. A company that is confident in providing quality services should be ready to sign up for penalties!
And finally, I would look at the qualifications of specialists. For example, our employees are periodically tested by the customer before we sign an agreement with him. This gives him the opportunity to personally assess the level of their training.
In General, if you want to try outsourcing, start with routine and non-business-critical processes, such as administration of test environments. This will allow you to check how competent and business-oriented a particular outsourcer is.
— What processes makes sense to outsource?
— There are several basic approaches. First: “I have already built processes, I know how they work, but I see that I myself perform them inefficiently, and I want the outsourcer to do it for me.”
Second: “I need to solve a problem that I’m facing for the first time.” For example, the company decided to implement SAP system for qualified process management. In order to do this on their own, it is necessary to hire SAP-specialists, which are very expensive. Moreover, if the staff does not have its own SAP-specialists, there is no one to assess their skills. But implementing and maintaining are two different tasks with divergent goal vectors. Functionality and terms of implementation are important during implementation, and reliability and speed of recovery are important during operation.
To solve this problem, it is necessary to calculate the cost of outsourcing, and then compare with how much it will cost to form your own team. And if these figures are comparable (it is comparable, because it is necessary to take into account the risks in the formation of their own team), it is necessary to choose outsourcing. Moreover, outsourcing should be involved at the stage of implementation — the quality of acceptance will increase significantly.
There is a third approach, when a company outsources everything except business processes that determine its competitive advantage. This was done, for example, Summer Bank, which was necessary to ensure a quick start of the business, and then — its systematic development and expansion of the geography of presence, and all this with a minimum number of own it assets. Service center “infosistemy Dzhet” ensured the full operation of the business after three months. During the first year, we built 260 infrastructures in new branches, launched 1,200 sales outlets and 3,200 jobs in more than 400 settlements. Our cooperation continues to this day, and in 2012 the customer chose us as a partner thanks to our long-term expertise, professional team and reputation in the market.
— What are the real risks for business outsourcing carries?
— There is only one risk — it is quite painful to change an outsourcer. Especially if it provides services for several years and knows all the business processes of the customer, all the nuances of its information systems. With the choice of an outsourcer — as with the choice of his wife: it is important not to make a mistake. Therefore, it is necessary to approach this issue very carefully.