Co-Sourcing for Success

Selective outsourcing lets businesses focus on what they do best and leaves putting out tech fires to experts

A few misconceptions that exist around outsourcing can prevent small- and mid-sized businesses from taking advantage of the benefits it can bring.

First, too often business owners confuse having extensive service with expensive service, and think outsourcing sounds a lot like off-shoring. The reality is outsourcing lets businesses focus on the core of what they do, while external experts can focus on the day-to-day of patching software and managing IT infrastructure.

Still, it's not surprising that many small businesses are skittish when it comes to outsourcing. Yet, through paid consultants, many already participate in outsourcing, although not calling it that. This typical LANguy- for-hire is often involved in all aspects of a small business' IT, from toner to telecom. Still, he or she is just one person - who has only so many hours in a day and only so much time to learn what's new.

To get the most out of technology investments and of outsourcing opportunities, small- and mid-sized business owners should look closely at where they could free themselves up through external assistance. At Primus, we call this co-sourcing. Although we have a full line of virtual and managed services, each business' individual needs are unique. Some need to make sure their hardware is running, others need operating systems managed, and others want their phone systems outsourced.

When employing a co-sourcing approach, outsourced services are provided à la carte, which works especially well for small and medium businesses where internal technical expertise can be slim. Often small business IT staff find themselves pulled in every direction; they must be a Jackof- all-Trades, and so master of none.

Co-sourcing offers a few key advantages:

It's predictable. Often the smaller a business is the less predictable are its operating hours. An Engineering firm might be working on a project until 11 p.m., until a server goes down and they cannot provide the design to their clients. At that time the LANguy- for-hire could be out at a movie, not picking up his phone. When co-sourcing services, the experts are always available.

It's not complicated. Co-sourcing allows smaller businesses access to enterprise-grade technology in the bite-sized chunks they require. By co-sourcing, a business doesn't need to buy cheaper or smaller tech; they can purchase exactly what they need.

It's future proof. Because both co-sourcing and outsourcing allow a business to buy only the technology it needs, it can similarly be prepared for growth. It can purchase a slice of the enterprise technology it needs for its four-person shop today, and add to it as staff and performance needs grow. The alternative is to forecast and try to buy technology that supports where the owner thinks the business will be in three to five years - usually accompanied by a large capital outlay.

It saves money. In addition to not being forced to pre-spend on currently unnecessary IT, co-sourcing saves money in times of crisis. Overtime for IT staff or hired consultants is not required when something goes awry off-hours. As well, loss of business from downtime is prevented through redundancy. Disasters are not just tornados, fires and hurricanes; they are anything that causes a business to lose access to its crucial IT applications.

It's not just for data anymore. Twenty-first century service providers don't only offer storage and data services. At Primus, for example, we offer hosted IP-based PBX services. Just like data services, this allows smaller businesses to have the features of phone systems typically found only in large enterprises, but at the smaller scale required for their businesses.

Whether turning to an outsourcer for virtual servers, managed services or hosted IP telephony, co-sourcing can give small businesses a share of big business features at a cost and scale they can handle.

Jeff Lorenz
Vice-President of Sales and Marketing
Primus Telecommunications Canada 

This advertorial originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Backbone Magazine.