Selecting your outsourcing IT partner


Considerations when selecting an IT outsourced partner
Outsourcing is gaining popularity, largely due to its effective ‘pay as you go’ model. This is especially appealing in light of the current global economic downturn with ICT managers having to keep tight control of their budgets.

The outsource IT model offers access to skills, resources and experience that would not otherwise be available to many organisations’ because of the financial outlay that is required in building these specialised proficiencies in-house. However, negotiating the minefield of outsourcing providers and outsourced IT offerings – and selecting the one that will work best with your organisation – can be challenging.
Taking certain key criteria into consideration when assessing an outsourced IT
service can be advantageous. These include a review of the following:


One of the fundamentals in selecting your partner to outsource IT is to ensure that all technical staff is appropriately certified according to their level of experience and position. To outsource IT to an outsourced partner with a varied level of staffing that can be matched to the appropriate task, ensures that your business has access to skilled staff without a significant capital outlay. This also provides ‘peace of mind’ as you can rest assured that the staffs working on your project are competent.


Not all businesses use the same operating systems (OS), and multiple types of OS’ are often used simultaneously. It is therefore important for an Outsource IT partner to have a good working knowledge of multiple OS’.


If working in a database environment for example, it is necessary for the outsourced IT partner to be knowledgeable regarding the different types of relational databases. The benefit of the outsourced IT company having a broader knowledge base is that it can significantly reduce implementation time and support various platforms.


Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are fairly standard, and you should insist on one that includes clearly laid out details, such as mean-time-to-respond, mean-time-to-repair and escalation procedures all the way to the top level.


This should be combined with an Operations Level Agreement, (OLA) – a contract that specifies how the SLA is executed; something which is often not included as a standard procedure. This should be done before engagement between the client and the outsourcer. Clear roles of responsibility should be established and measurables put in place. In addition, rates for work required over and above the scope of the contract should be agreed upon scaling from Junior Engineers up to Principal Consultants, depending on the level of expertise required. This eliminates nasty surprises down the line and prevents your outsource IT partner from holding you to ransom at a future date.


  • Industry standard tools are often recommended with relational database or OS outsource IT contracts, but they usually come with a hefty price tag which is transferred onto the client. During times when budgets are lean, an in-house developed solution offered as part of the entire package (a value-add), can deliver the same basic functionality of industry standard tools without the severe dent to your budget. However it is important to bear in mind that a simple monitoring tool might not feature the same ‘bells and whistles’ as an industry standard tool such as a sophisticated graphical user interface
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