Updated: Nov 22
Technological change has been the backbone of the ability of large businesses to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, and management teams continue to carefully assess their technology investments. Added to that, the tightening economy has many businesses reassessing their partnerships with service providers, including technology advisors and outsourced partners. But what criteria can companies use to assess whether the assistance they are getting is worth the money they are spending? Leon Hendricks, CEO and founder of DLK Group, suggests five key questions to ask about your outsourced partner:
Do they have a solid track record with existing customers? Are they known for consistent, excellent service delivery and continuous renewal? Existing good relationships with clients indicate that your potential outsourced partner takes time to understand a business and its needs, rather than imposing a cookie-cutter approach to solving problems. This alone can make the difference between an adequate solution and an optimal solution for your company.
Do they care about their people? Having scarce tech skills makes people very mobile, meaning technologists tend to go where they feel comfortable and fit in. If your potential outsourced partner can retain team members over the long term, this bodes well. It also means that your company isn’t the testing ground for new team dynamics on the part of the outsourced company. After all, your partner should be helping to resolve your internal IT skills pressures, not adding to them. Look further than just who the company employs, though. Many people with scarce skills prefer to consult rather than take a permanent position, and you want your partner to have long standing relationships with their consultants too.
Do they comply with regulations and laws? With compliance being a key business driver of using an outsourced partner, their compliance should also be above reproach. This is particularly important in highly regulated industries such as finance and telecommunications, where an outsourced partner’s missteps can reflect badly on the company’s compliance record. Ask the ‘rude’ questions. Are they open to due diligence checks? Are they in good standing with SARS and their banks? Is their BEE certification up-to-date? What about their company documentation, shareholders’ agreements and key-person insurance? Are their HR policies fair and legal?
Do they give back in some way? It is common cause that South Africa can only function if its corporate citizens continue to help to rebuild after not only the pandemic and recent natural disasters, but also to overcome the lingering legacies of apartheid. Does your outsourced partner have a social conscience? Are they contributing in some way to the communities they serve or come from? Does it go further than merely painting kindergartens once a year on Mandela Day?
Do you have product partners in common? An outsourced partner who provides support, advice and resourcing that facilitates digital transformation must, by definition, have existing technology product partnerships. But are they with the same big vendors that you have relationships with, or will your outsourced partner have to upskill its teams to service your business? Have they worked with technologies that you have already deployed and can they hit the ground running? This can make a significant difference to turnaround times on projects, which are likely to also impact your bottom line.
These questions seem deceptively simple, but provide strong guidance on the business value you can gain from an outsourced partner, Hendricks concludes.