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What Is Technical Support

Outsourcing?




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As companies closely examine new technologies and business models to further reduce costs and support growth, most will take a long look at technical support outsourcing some of their in-house job functions from employees within the company to an outside company, or vendor.

Since the early 1990’s, technical support outsourcing has emerged as an increasingly common and popular strategic approach that uses external resources to conduct and perform activities and functions which are necessary for the company’s successful operation – but not intimately tied to its core business.

The choice to outsource may be driven by a desire to reduce costs or free up management to focus more intently on business development and growth. It could also emerge as a result of skills shortages for certain departments or support areas. Sometimes highly skilled resources necessary for support were not fully utilized. Other times, those skills were not available on the job market. For example, information security specialists are very difficult to recruit and retain. Except for very large companies, this is a common dilemma regarding proper management of the Information Technology (IT) Department. Administering operational departments also requires significant management time.

These drivers would influence what activities and jobs the company would choose to outsource. Services vendors can offer significant advantages other than merely lower costs. These many advantages include:

  • A greater depth of high-level skills to address infrequent needs.
  • A “deeper bench” than most companies can support, allowing for scalability to meet surges or slow-downs in business.
  • Specialization and resulting efficiencies in the services offered.

After a preliminary study of exactly what and where to outsource, management would then need to ascertain, understand and implement the outsourcing model that works best for them.

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  • Full outsourcing refers to moving the functions of an entire group or department to one outside, independent firm that offers more depth in required resources and skills.
  • Partial outsourcing is a combination of internal staff and external support that provides ongoing, targeted support, all via a cost-effective model. For example, sales support and server administration might be outsourced, while internal staff retains responsibility for the onsite infrastructure.
  • Multi-sourcing describes the results of a company outsourcing different parts of the work to multiple vendors. This is one option to consider, but is highly complex and complicated to manage and can be less cost-effective due to the leverage that can be gained with one vendor.
Whichever model a company chooses, an important consideration is always the physical location of the vendor.
  • Off-shoring refers to sending these functions to a remote location, sometimes halfway around the world, usually for cost considerations.
  • On-shoring is defined as keeping the functions within the country where the company previously performed the work.
  • Nearshoring is a fairly new term and business model. Some companies have found success in outsourcing to nearby countries, where they share a border, language or time zones. In these arrangements, there may be fewer cultural, legal or political differences.

During the technical support outsourcing planning, there are many other considerations that must be factored in. Companies can solicit bids from services vendors, or they may choose to work with an outsourcing consultant to identify a vendor best suited for their needs. A consultant can help find the right services company, and also guide the company through the transition and help set expectations. Vendor references are critical, particularly when there is a significant geographical distance, and oversight is more difficult.

Technical support outsourcing has matured significantly over the past two decades, with enhanced business models, new technologies and improved communications all across the web. Businesses looking to use this valuable tool will find an array of options and advantages in today’s market.

At Be Different Solutions, our engineers and staff are all based in one of our two offices in the United States or Europe. Regardless of their location, all our people are highly qualified, motivated and ethical. With us, you can always depend on rapid delivery of quality support responses.

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References:

Bhatia, Rakesh. 2013, Alternate Outsourcing Models Gain Popularity. CIO Insight. http://www.cioinsight.com/it-services/outsourcing/alternate-outsourcing-models-gain-popularity-2/

Overby, Stephanie. Outsourcing Definitions and Solutions. CIO Insight. http://www.cio.com/article/40380/Outsourcing_Definition_and_Solutions