What is IT support and what are the benefits that a company can derive from it?
What is the IT industry? Service, help, support and safeguarding
information technology / IT outsourcing
IT is nothing but an abbreviation of “information technology”. This is a combination of fields of information technology and telecommunications, including the manufacture and maintenance of computer hardware, software, and all activities related to the processing, transmission, storage and securing of information. Success in the IT industry has two factors: the requirement that a person must fulfill, and the skills that they possess. Completing a degree in computer science is today only one of many routes to gaining experience in the field of information technology. The practical application of this knowledge, experience, and the ability to filter information all count to a great extent.
Companies offering IT support on the basis of offshore outsourcing / use of external resources are constantly trying to increase their skills and the comprehensiveness of the services provided. It is worth remembering that hardware support itself is not complicated, but servicing, installation and software configuration, as well as numerous updates and network integration at a given location are often quite complex tasks. Examples of services provided by IT support include data and password recovery, hard disk formatting, updating systems, integrating e-mail systems, the installation of operating systems and drivers (for example, for printers and scanners), and the removal of viruses and malware. Today's technological progress forces employers to enlist the help of professionals in the computer industry, thus avoiding unnecessary problems, ensuring that equipment purchased is correctly and optimally operational, and making work easier and faster than by the use of traditional methods of transmitting information.
Offshore outsourcing and offshore outsourcing services
(use of external resources and external foreign resources)
American Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said: "If there is something cannot be done more productively, cheaper and better than the competitors, there is no point in doing it and we should hire someone to do the work who does it better than we do”. This strategy had a big influence on the later development of the industry, the economy and market globalisation. The term outsourcing was first used in 1979 and described the actions of the British automotive industry. The British bought German plans to implement them in their own country. You could call this offshore outsourcing services or the use of external foreign resources. Initially, outsourcing was the strategy of supply companies. Businesses, mainly car makers, assumed that it was better and more cost-effective to give up production, for example, of some essential parts of the car at the expense of acquiring them from other companies. By using this principle in his business, Ford not only largely fueled and mechanised the US economy (he also introduced the first car production line), but also established the Ford Motor Company, one of the most recognised commercial brands in the world.
By the end of the twentieth century, the term outsourcing had begun to be used to describe the operational principles of placing all business activities of a company with external firms, namely offshore outsourcing. Modern outsourcing is the basis of good governance, which involves placing with another company those tasks that are not related to the main activities of a business in order to focus human resources in particular on areas that yield a competitive advantage. This solution greatly facilitates and speeds up work, and increases the efficiency of the eventual effects of planned projects. Hiring a company for IT support is now much more cost effective than creating a new, specialised department.
In 2004, outsourcing began to become especially popular, due to increasing globalisation. The world economy began to rely on companies that relocate their headquarters abroad, offshore outsourcing services, or international corporations with branches in many countries, for example, BP, and Samsung. It is worth mentioning that even at that time, the impact of this strategy on unemployment and economic growth was beginning to be analysed. Perhaps it was also one of the main factors that forced the above mentioned Kongo Gumi company to file for bankruptcy.
Why outsourcing is effective? All the pros and cons
In 2002, the American internet portal Information Week conducted a study among a group of 700 companies, on the effectiveness and usefulness of the strategy of using external resources. Around 60% of respondents indicated that the primary objective of outsourcing was to generate savings. Other objectives mentioned included:
• Gaining share capital
• Making significant cost reductions
• Better control of expenses
• Transfer of resources for other purposes (often those that yield a competitive advantage to the brand)
• Distributing investment risk
• Acquisition of new resources (often human)
• Better distribution of strengths and work (greater efficiency)
• Obtaining products and services at better value
• Dealing with activities difficult to perform and subsequently control
Outsourcing is most often connected with service industries. These include, for example, gastronomy. However, such a strategy is usually also applied to information technology (IT support, which consists of the protection and processing of data, or maintenance and repair) accounting, marketing (advertising) and logistics (control of shipping, leasing).
The introduction of such a business management system is also associated with many risks. According to the research of the American analytical-advisory company Gartner, more than 50% of cooperation contracts on the use of external resources of a partner company or companies are subject to renegotiation. The most common reason given for the ineffectiveness of this management model is the absence of planned cost reductions within a given time. If you assume that the ability to do make such reductions is a basic goal, this criticism is quite justified. Worse is when the implementation of outsourced activities runs less efficiently than a company’s own performance. You should also consider the quality of services provided by the contractor. Other risks include:
• Inefficient cooperation with the service contractor
• Disputes with clients that may lead to their needs not being satisfied, thus affecting the reputation of the company
• Increased costs (particularly painful)
• A negative public reaction related to job cuts
Staff implementing outsourcing often commit many errors that prove decisive in the failure of this strategy. The most common are haste in drawing up contracts, lack of good interaction between the two parties to the contract, managing only the desire to reduce costs, failure to pay attention to personnel and the correct management of human resources, and non-compliance with the principle of SLA (Service Level Agreement, the agreed level of performance, which determines the level of service between the customer and the service provider), which is particularly important in the case of provision of services. In this case, a directory describing the tasks performed is recommended. This allows IT operations to be segregated, and services provided to be handled better. The result is a kind of dependency tree, which, starting from the root (at the bottom), looks as follows: network infrastructure, applications (support services), and the most important services provided to the company at the top.
The implementation of outsourcing, based on the example of the IT industry
Economists point to as many as 12 stages in the implementation of the outsourcing process. For the purposes of this text, we draw from this list five. These include: clarifying objectives and requirements, planning the process, identifying potential partners, establishing contact with them, and the subsequent signing and implementation of the agreement. In the case of the services of an IT company, it is important to be especially clear on what is required. This may be the tailoring and maintenance of equipment (productive servers and computers) to meet the needs of the business, the installation of appropriate software, or special protection of personal data and often confidential information, which is particularly important for network security in banks and law firms. Prior determination of needs will lead to a more suitable and explicit agreement, and thus ultimate satisfaction with services and cooperation and the successful development of the company to allow it to reach a stable position on an uncertain market.
Benefits of IT support
It is worth stressing that one computer scientist without much experience will not always be able to ensure speed, stability and security for even the smallest company. The money that we invest in improving their skills or in creating an entire IT department can have differing results. With external support, from experienced firms up to date with technological advances, companies can often reduce expenses by half. Outsourcing employees / workers from external companies, working for the company on the basis of a contract that should assume some level of services offered, will be much more qualified and better versed in the requirements for what needs to be accomplished. The benefits that companies derive from this solution are best seen in the costs incurred. You can save on many levels: the cost of production, extraction of raw materials, personnel, energy used, accounting, and tax systems. In addition, there is usually only a short wait for orders to be fulfilled (assistance in the IT industry is often available 24/7), they are carried out efficiently, either remotely or by delivering replacement equipment to the customer in the event of breakdown, enabling continuous problem-free operation. Contact with a company that provides IT services often allows an enterprise to keep pace with technological developments, and thus facilitating and accelerating their activity.