Outsourcing IT is fast becoming one of the hottest industries offering business services to Philippines companies. Outsourcing IT operations is a great way to cover your technology bases at a lower cost, and with less stress than trying to handle it yourself. But as any business owner knows, you can’t simply trust your IT needs to just anyone.
Choosing the right vendor is crucial to making sure your business doesn’t miss a beat today, or any time in the future. If you’re considering outsourcing your IT needs but don’t know how, here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
Step 1 – Defining Your IT Needs and Goals
Different companies have different IT needs depending on size and type of business. Before you can even begin looking at various IT vendors you need to know exactly what it is you need. Start by gathering your senior team members for a meeting in which you’ll ask them how IT can best serve them in a perfect world. From those ideas you’ll be able to develop a list of needs and goals from which you can then formulate a plan. Some of the things you should be discussing in this meeting include:
- the specific IT tasks you intend to outsource
- what you expect those tasks to look like at the user end
- the extent of service you wish the vendor to provide for those tasks
- how much you intend to spend on the project
- whether or not it’s important to work with a domestic vendor
Step 2 – Create your Request for Information (RFI)
In order to get potential vendors interested in your project you must first create an RFI document. This document tells IT vendors that you are looking for someone to partner with – it is your “want ad,” so to speak. The RFI is usually posted on your company website, distributed to any IT vendors you are already aware of, published through trade organizations, published in newspapers, and disseminated generally anywhere IT vendors might be looking. It is important that your RFI contain the following information:
- specifics about your company; size, type of business, number of employees, etc.
- overview of your IT needs and goals
- submission guidelines for interested vendors
- where applicable, a vendor submission form
- contact information for vendors who may have questions
Step 3 – Solicitation of Proposals
Soliciting proposals from interested vendors requires the creation of another document known as the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP document is similar to the RFI except that it is much larger in scope. This is the document which lays out the details of the specific work you have available, plus any legal or industry-related requirements. In addition to the information included on the RFI, your RFP document should also include:
- A detailed description of the specific work and/or project; this is known as State of Work (SOW)
- any legal or regulatory requirements the vendor must adhere to
- any industry related standards or protocol the vendor must adhere to
- estimated cost of the project
- submission guidelines and response form
Step 4 – Verify Your Vendors
Verifying your vendors is, for all intents and purposes, creating a short list from among all who have responded. Practicing due diligence in verifying the information provided by each specific vendor is of utmost importance. The verification process should include the following:
- checking certification and licensing claims
- contacting and verifying references
- conducting face-to-face meetings at the vendor’s office (this allows you to see them in action)
- asking for a test project for your business or a verifiable case study of previous work
Step 5 – Draw up Contracts
Once a short list is achieved, have your legal team begin drawing up contracts while you compare the vendors’ side-by-side. Look for ways in which each vendor is similar, as well as their differences. Based upon the similarities and differences determine what’s most important in meeting your needs and goals, then choose a vendor. Once you select a vendor, make sure any specific contractual requirements the vendor has requested are included in the final contract.
Step 6 – Sign the Contracts
The obvious last step is to sign the contracts with your vendor. Make sure that only authorized personnel are involved in the actual signing. Contracts have been known to be voided in some court cases when it’s been determined that one of the parties signing the deal was not legally authorized to do so.
Choosing an IT vendor can be a time-consuming and frustrating affair. But companies who do their due diligence and follow a step-by-step process similar to what you have just read, greatly increase their chances of success in finding a quality IT outsourcing companies. With the IT monkey off your back, your business is free to concentrate on what it does best.