Six reasons why a co-managed model is best for offshore IT infrastructure support
It’s time to stop deluding yourselves, executive IT buyers and sell-side managers. A co-managed model – not staffing, not fully managed or outsourced services – is the most suitable structure for offshoring IT infrastructure support. The highly critical and sensitive, yet cost- and value-driven nature of IT infrastructure dictates it.
First, let’s get on the same page about what we mean by IT infrastructure support (it is almost embarrassing to define something so basic to many of you). It is the management, maintenance, and optimisation of already-in-production hardware, software, and network resources and services of an enterprise IT environment. To get into the weeds of it: application support, storage engineering, Wintel engineering, voice and network operations, database engineering, Unix engineering, eCommerce system management, service request management, change and release management, problem management, and incident management, to name a few (or slew).
Now let’s look at the nature of IT infrastructure services. The nature – and challenge – of outsourcing IT infrastructure support is that, on one hand, it is necessary. Thus, it needs to:
- support your business goals, whether it’s reduced cost or better support coverage; and
- add value, through the expertise and process improvements usually reserved to fully managed outsource services.
On the other hand, IT infrastructure is so highly sensitive that you need to maintain control of it. And so unique to your enterprise that only a flexible, custom solution – not a vanilla, cookie-cutter one – would work.
The six reasons working for a co-managed offshore IT infrastructure support revolve around enjoying the best of both the managed-service and staff-augmentation worlds.
1. Loads of business value
You get to maintain in-house control of seductive IT engineering projects – the kind that would make your in-house infra geeks feel like jocks – while your offshore infrastructure support provider takes care of day-to-day BAU (business as usual) operations. With managed services or staff augmentation, it is all or nothing.
And as this happens, your engineers get their weekends and off-hours back, you further their careers by exposing them to high-value projects, and you get to provide better IT support coverage to the business. In short, you become an IT management rock star.
2. Flexible service workflow design
You have the flexibility to design your own service workflow whatever your situation may be – whether it’s high-volume service requests and change releases, high level of support for onshore core hours, or 24×7 problem and incident management. In a managed service, you most likely have to follow your provider’s service workflow design.
3. Self-directing expertise
You benefit from the expertise of end-to-end ITIL-cycle service delivery, not just – as in a staffing model – a point-for-point, head-for-head access to technical skills that you still have to direct and supervise.
4. Value, not hours
Your infrastructure support provider will be focused on continuous improvements, not padding billable hours (as in staffing).
5. Effectively involved offshore provider management
You get a highly engaged program management team from your provider, because a co-managed model necessitates it. In a staffing model, the only management engagement from your provider comes during SOW, PO, or MSA renewal and/or renegotiation. In a managed service, there could be too meddlesome provider management intervention, as each (many times minuscule) change in scope could have a pricing implication.
6. Your own engineered pace
Finally, you get to direct the speed with which the IT infrastructure support offshoring engagement grows – a crucial point considering the sensitivity of your infrastructure and your comfort level in handing over control. In staffing, you can go only as fast as your provider’s recruitment. In a fully managed or outsourced model, the pace may have already been set upon contract-signing of a multi-year engagement.
For something that lies in that sweet intersection of enterprise technical criticality and business value, offshore IT infrastructure support does not lend itself to full-blown managed service nor to a pure-play staff augmentation model. So in a sense, offshore IT infrastructure support is kind of like revenge: it is best served “co” (-managed, that is).
About the Author
Jay Manahan heads Business Development for a Manila-based IT services and business process outsourcing provider. After 20 years in the IT, BPO, and management consulting industries, he has found he enjoys working the most with successful yet still ambitious IT and outsourcing leaders who challenge the status quo in a humorous, self-aware manner. His Twitter handle is @consultjmanahan.