In an age of agility and technology being on the forefront of most organisations’ competitive advantage, companies are focusing on optimising their ICT workforce; asking questions like, do I have all the skills I need? Is everyone productive? How do I scale my employee number to expand and contract with a fluctuating workload or project-based environment? Many companies are resorting to outsourcing their keep-the-light-on business functions and importing expensive specialist technical skills as and when they need them.
We catch up with Ashley Pillay, CEO of Exponant, well known for its Outsourcing business to ask him about the state of ICT outsourcing in South Africa.
Q: Does outsourcing look different in South Africa?
Ashley: For the most part IT outsourcing is similar across the world, but South Africa is still a developing economy, so, it is inevitable that there is a high requirement for IT outsourcing services in this country. Many businesses don’t want to have an in-house IT department or don’t understand everything technical. This is where the IT outsourcing firms play a significant role. The IT outsourcing service providers in South Africa understand the need to go digital.
Q: Why do organisations outsource their IT?
Ashley: Outsourcing can be a great way for businesses and to take care of tedious tasks while also boosting productivity and saving money. By outsourcing technology-related necessities, businesses can focus on more important responsibilities, like sales, customer service and more, without hiring technical resources.
Other reasons for outsourcing include, the reduction and improved control of operating costs, freeing up resources for other projects, to gain access to world class skills, accelerate the benefits of reengineering of capital projects, spread the risks or for non-essential asset transfer.
IT outsourcing differs from many other kinds of outsourcing in that because IT is the backbone of most organisations, it impacts an almost every area of the business from Marketing through Production and even Finances
However, not every area of the business should be outsourced. Handing off the wrong tasks to a third party can hurt your business more than it can help.
- So, which areas in businesses are more suitable for outsourcing?
Ashley: Well let’s start with Infrastructure. With cloud platforms becoming ever more ubiquitous as well as secure, infrastructure as a service can save businesses millions of Rands s in employee costs. Cloud computing also allows businesses to access information anywhere, anytime, using any compatible device.
Constructing your own infrastructure is neither cheap nor easy. It requires a large budget and maintenance by highly skilled IT staff. By outsourcing IaaS, businesses cut their budgets and the cloud service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for running and troubleshooting the systems; users simply have to pay on a per-use or subscription basis.
Then there is website management; along with building a well-crafted site in the first place, it’s important that businesses keep up with their websites, too, which can be an entirely different job. There’s a lot to monitor to ensure that your site stays up to date with the latest tech trends and content changes to keep the SEO effective, so outsourcing these tasks can help you maintain a strong Web presence without getting in the way of other important tasks
Of critical importance in this day and age is cybersecurity. Although many ICT products come with security and protection features including multifactor authorisation, however you still need cybersecurity experts who specialise in anticipating and mitigating threats. These experts provide an extra layer of protection that prevents disasters and quickly resolves security issues.
When your team is spending all of its time developing products and apps, it can be tedious to test every little aspect to make sure it’s perfect. Outsourcing is a great way to keep your products and apps the best they can be without burning out your developers.
Business applications should also be outsourced. App development is not cheap. It may seem like a good idea to create apps that are customised to your business operations and staff, but hiring a developer to build business apps requires a considerable investment of time, money and patience. In the meantime, there are plenty of comprehensive business apps available that can be customised to do just about anything you need to get done.
These are feature-rich applications used by many other businesses, so they are frequently updated with the latest technology to keep your business agile and competitive, and they don’t require the extra costs of hiring developers.
Of course, there are always projects outside your scope of expertise. IT professionals are not experts in all types of technologies. They may be knowledgeable in a particular area, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they can work on a related project without having the requisite training to gain expertise. if a task requires skills and time that your company just doesn’t have in-house, it’s time to outsource.
Anything that can’t be automated should be outsourced. If you have tedious tasks to take care of, taking them on yourself can be too time-consuming, and hiring an in-house employee would likely be a waste of resources. In some cases, you may be able to simply automate those tasks, but if not, you should definitely consider outsourcing.
Q: Before we go, do you have any last thoughts on the subject?
Ashley: Globally, even in these times the growth trajectory for outsourcing is soaring. Personally, I believe that much of this can be directly attributed to the fact that we can do so much more with data these days and we can visualise and measure optimal productivity and how much competitive advantage there is to be had by outsourcing specialised and essential, yet repetitive tasks.
Exponant’s Outsourcing offering
Exponant ensures we provide the kind of next-level service demanded by our customers when providing managed outsourced specialist resources comes into the picture.
We can place a development team on site, to consult with your stakeholders and observe how your workers use existing systems. We can also provide individual developers to supplement your existing team, Business Analysts or Project Managers. This allows for a more integrated development cycle, where code can be deployed and tested in a real environment and can be approved or rejected by the people who will eventually be using it.
Exponant provides highly skilled ICT Resources and services over short- or long-term periods across all ICT categories.