Nov 13 2017

4 Ways Outsourcing Can Help Improve Local Agency IT Operations

Moving certain IT operations to vendors can provide agencies with the right mix of security, scalability, reliability and flexibility that they need to innovate.

Many state and local government leaders, already under pressure to maintain their own IT services in a tight budget environment, are increasingly looking to outsource a portion of their IT operations.

Outsourcing IT services provides organizations with the ability to stay current as technology evolves. Because managed services providers work with a broad base of customers, they can leverage their size and scale by either investing in new technologies or upgrading existing technologies. Better yet, they can implement new techniques more rapidly than an in-house team.

Smaller IT teams in agencies can often be tasked with dealing with hundreds of different technologies, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the IT team to maintain subject matter expertise on every technology in the organization. But outsourced-service providers can typically afford to have multiple staff members master each technology, allowing the provider to maintain technical proficiency.

In Cary, N.C., for example, new IT leadership focused on outsourcing several IT operations in order to streamline operations and free up staff time from dealing with more than 100 disparate systems.

Here are four ways that outsourcing IT operations can improve government proficiency and free up time to focus on larger projects and digital transformation as opposed to simply keeping the lights on.

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1. Vendors Can Provide Fortified Security

Security is often a primary driver for outsourcing technology. All too often, organizations find themselves operating with critical security vulnerabilities left unpatched. For example, an attacker may compromise a specific service, and only in the wake of the breach does the organization realize the state of disrepair that exists.

IT leaders then find themselves faced with an unpalatable situation in which they are rapidly hiring staff to modernize and support the damaged infrastructure on an emergency basis. Outsourcing offers an appealing alternative because organizations can hire a provider to manage the service on their behalf, avoiding missteps or emergency measures.

2.  Outsourced IT Offers More Cost-Effective Scalability

Organizations can turn to outsourcing to improve the scalability of their services. IT leaders shouldn’t plan capacity solely to meet the needs that exist within their organizations today, but rather they should position themselves to meet future needs. When an agency maintains its own in-house services, it often purchases capacity that sits unused in anticipation of future demand.

But organizations that outsource services to scalable providers may gain access to burst capacity. This allows them to meet periods of peak demand. It also allows them to incrementally add capacity and to meet ongoing business requirements without a significant capital investment.

3. Improve System Reliability and Reduce Downtime

As with security and scalability, an outside IT provider can often improve the reliability of IT services. By dedicating significant financial resources and entire teams of technologists to each managed service, the provider can realize uptime levels that simply aren’t financially feasible for an agency operating a service in a single data center.

Today’s agencies are no longer 9-to-5 operations — they now serve customers and users working from home during off-hours and from around the world. Citizens expect IT services to be available on a 24/7/365 basis. This new reality requires the around-the-clock staffing that IT service providers already offer.

4. Increase IT and Team Flexibility

Outsourced IT services give organizations the flexibility they need to reallocate their own IT staff to higher-priority initiatives. By outsourcing commodity services to providers, state and local CIOs may focus their own teams on delivering value directly related to improving citizen services and service delivery.

Through outsourcing, agencies and departments may increase the currency of their technology, improve security, enable scalability, bolster reliability and increase their availability to work on mission-critical activities.

Learn how to assess the financial impact of managed services by reading the CDW white paper, "Outsourced Services: Determining a Return on Investment."

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