Outsourcing: A Leveraged Alternative
IT professionals in firms are faced with a near constant expectation to do more with less. In our discussions with firms, we see many common strategic objectives for 2019, including better security, data integrity, collaboration, improved processes, optimal standards, mobility and accessibility, innovation, communication, talent development and operational excellence. It’s a tall order, but one that can be possible through outsourcing.
Outsourcing comes in many forms but brings its own set of opportunities and challenges. My goal in this article is to deconstruct an outsourcing technology strategy that leverages new technology paradigms, as well as explore advantages to be gained and identify pitfalls to avoid.
The multitasking myth
In Quality Software Management: Systems Thinking, author Gerald Weinberg proposed a rule of thumb to calculate the waste caused by switching between projects, or multitasking.
Numerous studies have shown that multitasking is simply not possible (unless you can engage both hemispheres of your brain – a feat possible only to those with severe mental issues or savants).
According to Weinberg’s estimates, you lose 20% of your time each time you add a project to the mix. By the time you add a third project to the mix, nearly half of your time is wasted in switching tasks. In fact, the people who pride themselves on multitasking are usually the worst at it!
Now take another look at that list of strategic objectives from the first paragraph. If your IT team is trying to focus on 10 goals at once, how successful will they be? They might be putting effort in a lot of areas, but chances are they’re not real progress on any of them.
Output vs. workload
If we can’t work on all areas simultaneously, some teams inevitably try to accomplish everything by working more. Again, we’ll run into a roadblock.
Scott Maxwell, founder of the venture capital firm OpenView Venture Partners, realized something in his own company. At OpenView, working long hours, nights and weekends was the norm. The company pushed its people to work harder and harder to get more productivity, but found the more they pushed, the faster people got burnt out, demoralized and quit.
Maxwell realized that above a certain threshold, working more hours actually stopped producing more output. He created the Maxwell curve, demonstrating that peak productivity actually falls at just under 40 hours a week.
As a result, he Maxwell started sending people home early. It took a while to convince his team of ambitious people that he was serious, but he sent a strong message: working late isn’t a sign of commitment – it’s a sign of failure.
The curve is different for different people, and it can even vary for the same person at different times in their life. But we all have a peak number of productive hours per week. When you work too many hours, you start getting distracted, making mistakes and bad decisions. You actually create more work for yourself and others.
The outsourcing alternative
The good news is we live in a time of unprecedented opportunity for outsourcing projects. Cloud technology, integrated data systems and consumption-based IT are changing the hierarchical structure of the firm, and IT is no exception.
Consider the case study shared by New Signature and their work with Withum, a top 30 CPA firm with 14 offices and 800 employees. Certainly, Withum has the knowledge and resources to handle IT on their own. However, the firm was growing faster than their existing IT infrastructure could keep up with. The firm wanted to migrate to Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Office 365 but didn’t want to drag new implementation program out over tax season, so they leveraged their resources by outsourcing the project. The firm brought in experts for deployment and now manage it on their own moving forward.
That’s just one example of how a firm can take advantage of outsourcing, and it’s not just for large firms with big budgets. Supplementing with outsourced services makes a lot of sense for all types of organizations – even those with well-established internal IT teams.