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Network World — IT outsourcing is on the rise and for good reason. There are notable benefits associated with it such as gaining greater flexibility in meeting customer demands regionally or nationally, changing fixed costs to variable costs, extending expertise beyond internal resources, improving risk management and so on.
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Consider, for example, field service organizations. According to Aberdeen, these groups average only 60% staff utilization? That’s a lot of inefficiency. Now compare that to using an independent contractor. Since you pay by the job, your efficiency can reach 100% utilization. With a solid business strategy, an efficient method of finding and retaining the best tech talent, and a clearly defined way to measure results, your odds for success with outsourcing are high and your ability to deliver quick and efficient service can become your biggest competitive differentiator.
Whether you use IT contractors today or plan to in the near future, there are tried and true methods that can help you get the best results from your pool of tech talent.
Tip No. 1: Define success.
What business objectives are you looking to achieve with your IT contractors? Do you want to expand your geographic reach, lower operational/administrative costs, extend skill-sets or offer higher quality service with a focused supplier? Once you have clearly defined what your goals and objectives are, it makes it easier to build your contractor network. As corporate speaker/coach Gary Ryan Blair says: “Success in any endeavor does not happen by accident. Rather it’s the result of deliberate decisions, conscious effort, and immense persistence — all directed at specific goals.”
Tip No. 2: Don’t rush; get the right contractor — every time.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Of course you’re going to pick the right contractor for your business. But when you’re in a bind and you need IT help pronto, it’s easy to cut corners and settle for who’s available, rather than who’s the best person for the job, which usually means multiple visits, higher costs and an unhappy customer. This is simply a classic case of doing your homework. Does the IT contractor have the right certifications, experience level or licenses? It’s important to do your due diligence. Surprises are best kept at birthday parties and bat mitzvahs, not on a job site.
Tip No. 3: Match skill-set (and hourly rate) to the job.
You probably have several IT contractors that you rely on today and they all have a stellar track record for getting things done the right way at reasonable hourly rates. But in IT service, you can’t apply a one-size-fits-all (or one individual does any/every job) approach with your contractors. It costs too much and takes your most skilled technicians out of the game. Why have your top tech doing simple OS installations when they could be tackling high-skill, high-value projects for your business? Sure they could do it, but is it really the best use of their time? To get the most value out of your IT contractor network, make sure that you have a broad enough talent pool so you have the flexibility to assign the tech with the most appropriate skills at the most competitive price point for every service job.
Tip No. 4: Communication, communication, communication.
If you want the job done right, it’s important to set expectations and to empower your IT contractors with all of the valuable information that they will need before, during and after a service event. This means that they know the arrival time, the correct job site location, on-site contact information and submit all the required documentation. It’s equally important to have ready access to your contractors when last-minute changes happen such as when the job specifications have been altered or the job is canceled. Ensuring that your contractors are well-informed throughout the service event life cycle can make all the difference between delivering excellent service and mediocre service.
Tip No. 5: Measure performance and provide feedback.
To ensure that you’re getting consistent, quality service, it’s important to track contractor performance over time and provide feedback after every service job. There are endless ways to track a successful service visit, but here are a few of my favorites: customer satisfaction, customer referral, time on site, number of visits needed and punctuality. You’ll need to determine your own metrics that provide the best insight into the performance of your service team — it’s different with every business. Always acknowledge and encourage professional behavior and offer advice where appropriate. If your customer lets you know that your contractors do a top-notch job, relay that information too. Your feedback system and performance tracking will help ensure positive outcomes for subsequent service events.
There is also this one last must-have: Protect your business. Businesses that are serious about delivering quality always ensure that their IT contractors not only carry the necessary industry licenses and are covered by industry-standard insurance, but also ensure that all documentation is verified and current. No excuses. We live in a litigious world and mishaps — accidental or not — happen. If something goes wrong at a job site, are you prepared for a potentially business-ending mistake or perhaps risk your personal financial security? Protect your business.
OnForce is a venture-backed technology company that is the No. 1 source for on-site tech talent in field services throughout the U.S. and Canada.