To fund an in-house IT department or to outsource one is a tricky question. Here, we look at the pros of outsourcing, and what you should look for in a supplier
In today’s world of digital disruption and innovation, franchising businesses need to continually evolve and have a resilient technology infrastructure to stay competitive.
To keep on top of performance and drive decision making, financial and business processing has to be fast, reliable and secure. For franchising businesses, there are additional considerations which need to be taken into account to ensure the right IT infrastructure is in place to meet the franchisees and franchisor’s needs.
When buying a franchise, you run the risk of choosing a franchisor that is great at selling but is lacking when it comes to supporting franchisees. Fortunately, outsourcing IT support can fill the gap for both parties. Because, while franchises come in all shapes and sizes, the benefits of outsourcing your IT efforts are universal.
Outsourcing your IT efforts reduces your overheads and allows you to focus on running your business. At the same time, you get full support for any existing IT support you have with specialist expertise and technologies available on demand.The key benefits to outsourced IT
1. Reduce and control costs
One of the biggest problems for people setting up a franchise is getting the money together to cover your start-up costs. For many franchises, an in-house IT specialist with the required level of knowledge is way out of budget – IT managers earned an average salary of $149,730. And what do you do when that one resource is on holiday or sick? Add in the costs of training, pension, benefits and other employer costs, the true price quickly ramps up. This is money that could otherwise be spent on business-critical activities.
2. Focus on the day job
Some franchise owners are forced by necessity to assume the role of de facto IT support because there’s no one around to handle it. Outsourcing IT can allow you to focus on running your business and free up staff to concentrate on their key duties.
3. Support your franchises
With the right business relationship, you can use your outsourced IT partner as your preferred partner to your franchisees. This gives you and them a central point to which to address any IT issues.
4. Access to specialist expertise and the latest technologies
One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is that you get access to a much bigger team of experts. Working with an appropriately sized outsourcing partner gives you access to a much wider technical team when you need it.
5. An on-demand IT department
Working with a company gives you access to much more than just technical support. You will have access to teams specialising in procurement, project management, installation, ongoing maintenance, and senior level IT management.
Choosing the right supplier
Once you’ve decided to outsource some or all of your IT functions, it’s imperative to choose a provider who understands your needs and will be aligned with your business. Some franchises may have preferred suppliers, but depending on your set up, you may have to look for your own supplier. It’s not just about awards and accreditations.
Franchises looking for an outsourced IT provider should consider the following:
Your chosen partner will most likely be providing your business with remote helpdesk services and onsite duties. They are an extension of your workforce and it’s important they understand and can align with your culture and vision.
2. Strategic input
You want more than simple break/fix support from an IT outsourcer. They should understand the needs and demands of a franchise and offer strategically led advice to help you make the right IT decisions.
3. Relationship management
As well as technical staff and services, you need to ensure your chosen partner has the personnel and attitude to manage relations and ensure a successful outsourcing experience. If you are relying on them to provide support to all your franchises, you need to make sure they’re happy to handle requests from multiple points of contact, potentially all over the country.
4. Vendor impartiality
One of the reasons for outsourcing is to have advice on choosing the right solutions and technologies. To this end, make sure your supplier is giving impartial advice and is not motivated to sell a particular product for any reason other than it’s the best choice for your needs.
5. Ability to offer appropriate services and contracts
There’s no “one size fits all” service for IT Outsourcing. You may require 24/7 helpdesk access, and frequent onsite visits or you may have a dispersed workforce and cloud-based services where remote management and administration is key. Successful outsourcing requires a provider who can offer the options and services to meet your requirements and adapt to changes in your franchise, whether they come from the head office or come from internal innovation.
Franchise systems are based on a proven model that can be successfully replicated. This makes them often considerably less risky by entrepreneurs. The reality is that no franchise is immune to changes in the market and the changing demands of customers.
This is where having an agile and effective outsourced IT company can be so advantageous. You can evolve your internal processes in response to demands without changing the outward face of the franchise, giving you the best of both worlds.
Outsourcing enhances your productivity and delivers essential support without excessive costs. Ultimately, the benefits of outsourcing your business IT needs to a company will vary on your needs. It’s important that you choose the right solution for your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan May is Commercial Director at ramsac, an IT support and managed services provider based in Surrey, offering a proactive 24-hour service which cuts the stress out of managing technology. Dan is responsible for the commercial development of the business and oversees ramsac’s marketing, relationship and business development functions.
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