Outsourced IT

The IT team at the company I work for is outsourced to another company that provides IT services. This post is brief analysis of the pros and cons that I’ve encountered.

Outsourcing IT allows my company to get cost-efficient service and skills without hiring dedicated employees, but it means that we really don’t have 9-5 service. When something goes down, there’s usually a delay until someone can look into it. Sometimes there will be an IT person on site, but generally if a machine goes down, the right person isn’t around.

There’s also a significant cost to “Emergency Service.” I don’t know what that cost is in dollars, but every time I’ve filed an emergency ticket, I’ve been asked by our accounting department whether or not it’s really an emergency. Now, according to the time and attention people (and I’m not saying that they’re bad people), putting this cost on a work order that’s going to interrupt somebody is actually a good thing. But the real-life effect is that I end up asking myself, “Is this something I can repair in 15 minutes?” So, there’s some set of critical repairs that displace my real work.

Another major consequence of outsourced IT is that the people doing the IT are not using the systems that they maintain everyday. This means that they don’t notice intermittent problems (here today, gone tomorrow) and they can’t react quickly to obvious outages.

These factors have driven a couple changes in the way I approach IT, which I’ll detail in future posts:

  • I am effectively responsible for project management of IT projects; doing the planning, scoping and figuring out the details of how infrastructure projects should be implemented.
  • Individual issues need to be prioritized relative to tasks for longer term projects, or else little progress is made on the long term projects because there are always minor issues to tackle.
  • Automated monitoring is extremely important. Update: Monitoring is unit testing for IT.

On the plus side, we’ve got a decent team of people that are (for the most part) on call. On the minus side, I have to devote some of my time to IT work and I have to do much more of the planning and scoping of IT-related tasks. And there’s a lot of project definition that needs to be done to avoid IT disasters.

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