Monday, June 26, 2006

Offshore visits pay dividends

IT outsourcing is on the agenda of most large enterprises. Firms have to decide which IT functions to outsource and which to retain in-house, and they also have to decide whether to use a service provider in the UK or one based further afield.

Before signing any outsourcing deal, firms need to identify and manage security risks, said Kelly Kavanagh, senior analyst at research firm Gartner. He pointed out that offshore outsourcing requires even greater care in several areas, including the degree of control over customer data.

Kavanagh added that to deal with these issues, IT staff should be involved in the outsourcing process from the earliest stages. This means that they should be included in operations management, as well as the strategic planning phase.

Firms should audit prospective service providers to ensure policies and controls meet the required standards, said Kim Rajah, vice-president of European operations at outsourcing specialist Cognizant.

But companies will still keep certain key IT personnel, he added: "Firms will look for hybrid IT managers who know IT and the business, and project management skills will also be required in-house."

Businesses requiring a high level of security may be attracted by a new scheme called Outsource2NewZealand, designed to encourage UK firms to outsource high-level, business-critical systems to New Zealand. The scheme includes a coalition of 20 vendors, supported by the New Zealand government and managed by the IT Association of New Zealand (Itanz).

Outsource2NewZealand members said they were not interested in competing with mainstream outsourcing companies in India, China or Eastern Europe, but instead would offer top-end, niche solutions. "We are pitching our skills at a much higher level," , executive director of Itanz. He added that New Zealand should be a good choice for data privacy. "Our regulations and laws are [comparable] to those in the UK. New Zealand is a very safe destination for outsourcing."
For details read here