Companies are increasingly outsourcing the management of information technology (IT) for reasons that include concern for cost and quality, lagging IT performance, supplier pressure, access to special technical and application skills, and other financial factors. The outsourcing solution is acceptable to large and small firms alike because strategic alliances are now more common and the IT environment is changing rapidly.
Although the mix of factors raising the possibility of outsourcing varies widely from one company to another, there are a series of themes that explain most of the pressures to outsource. First of all, general managers' concerns about cost and quality drive outsourcing. The same issues such as getting existing services for a reduced price at acceptable quality standard came up repeatedly. Second, failure to meet service standards can force management to find other ways of achieving reliability. Finding a company in which cumulative IT management neglect eventually culminated in an out-of-control situation from which the current IT department could not recover is not unusual.
Management can see outsourcing as a way to fix a broken department. Third, a firm under intense cost or competitive pressures, which does not see IT as its core competence, may find outsourcing a way to delegate time-consuming, messy problems so it can focus scarce management time and energy on other differentiators. Next, several financial issues can make outsourcing appealing. One is the opportunity to liquidate the firm's intangible IT asset, thus strengthening the balance sheet and avoiding a stream of irregular capital investments in the future. Also, outsourcing can turn a largely fixed-cost business into one with variable costs. This is particularly important for firms whose activities vary widely in volume from one year to another or which face significant downsizing.
Outsourcing has identified numerous potential benefits. Financial benefits from outsourcing included rapid funding...