If you’re wondering how the coronavirus may impact outsourcing strategies, you’re not alone. The events of the past several months have far-reaching impacts on many areas of outsourcing, including IT service delivery processes. This is especially true as service providers look for the right balance between keeping some employees working from home, and sending some back to the office as stay-at-home orders relax.
The tricky part is that working productively outside the corporate office requires a robust technology framework. An effective work-from-home (WFH) infrastructure can include many components, but common elements are having connected and high-functioning mobile devices, using VPN or Virtual Private Network (VPN), and ensuring fast WiFi is readily available to employees. It also requires the use of consistent security software and offering teams convenient communication and collaboration tools.
A new reality
So, if your company is relying on one or many outsourcing partners – to support marketing, IT services, account management, customer service, or any other business function – what should you be asking providers? What considerations should you make to keep your businesses moving forward during this interim period, and as restrictions continue loosening? Let’s take a closer look.
- Evaluate public cloud resources – When it comes to technology, cloud computing may be one of the biggest bright spots coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many analysts report an acceleration of cloud migration by companies worldwide as business leaders look to improve IT resources availability. Those working with a cloud services partner should evaluate their public cloud resources to determine if it makes sense to move more workloads to the cloud. What about ERP systems? Or supply chain solutions? Or other critical business applications and assets? By increasing migration to the cloud, companies can improve IT availability and system resiliency, even as we move out of the ‘crisis mode’ of recent events.
- Look at security protections and make necessary adjustments. During this time, the primary focus in the outsourcing industry comes down to balancing WFH imperatives with changes needed for physical and digital layers of security to protect customer data. One example might include managed service agreements for customer service programs. Often these agreements require that partners perform these services in isolated areas where personnel cannot print, download, or save sensitive customer information. There are often physical security controls to limit access to the facility as well, using some device or token. Whenever possible, service providers should try to implement these protections into a WFH environment. Updated security processes might include disabling USB drives or screenshot functionality when agents use customer service software on their laptops. Another option might be making sure the outsourcer sets up multi-factor authentication with a separate digital token required for accessing the network.
- Consider compliance implications – Most service providers in our current environment are probably seeking relief from service levels and other performance standards due to limited bandwidth at home or other WFH realities. Because of these constraints, customers need to work with providers to address their business and operational priorities, while providing some flexibility with contractual requirements. Service providers can do their part by striving to address the customer’s most pressing needs first while setting realistic expectations about what is achievable based on changing conditions.
Make your plan, but stay flexible
During these unprecedented times, customers and outsourcing partners need to work collaboratively and expeditiously toward the same goals. Both parties also need to stay flexible enough to adjust as circumstances evolve. Keep in mind that changes made to outsourcing strategies, whether they’re contractual or operational, are temporary and they may need to be adjusted as things play out. If you want help evaluating your outsourcing priorities for the next several months, or longer, talk to Outsourcive. We specialize in managing back-office office operations for companies so that they can focus on critical priorities. We can help make outsourcing work for your business right now – let’s do this!