Worried your company might outsource your job? And, really, who isn’t
One trick to keeping your job right where it’s been is to pick your head
up from the tech a little and focus out on the business. Become a player
on the business side of the aisle, according to some industry analysts
and IT administrators.
”Companies start to look at outsourcing when you’re not meeting their
needs,” says Patricia Bramhall, president of Tydak, a Thousand Oaks,
Calif.-based consultancy. ”IT has, for a long time, been seen as the
black hole of expenses. A lot of money goes in and not much comes out.
But if your attitude is focused on the customer, they’re not going to
look down on you.”
Bramhall, in a one-on-one interview with Datamation says she’s
often called in to work with IT organizations and help align business
with IT. And often, she notes, it’s the IT organization calling her in
because they know that business executives have become frustrated with
them and they’re tired of being ‘beaten up’.
And that, Bramhall says, is just one step away from being outsourced.
”When things get that bad, whose fault is it,” she asks. ”It’s all
from not talking and poor communication. IT people are usually moving as
fast as they can to get the job done. But if you don’t really know what
the business needs, you won’t deliver, no matter how fast you’re
And to make sure you’re focusing all your efforts in the right place,
it’s key to understand the business, says Alan Abbott, a senior vice
president with Bank of America. Sit down with the business side, find out
what they’re working on, what their goals are and what they need to make
all of this happen.
Sitting at the Table
Once you do that, Abbott says you should be ready for a seat at the
table… the executive table.
”We’re at the table helping make business decisions because we can
quantify costs and values for business,” says Abbott. ”IT has to become
a business partner… Ultimately it gives us better job security. IT is
one of those things companies like to outsource. If IT becomes a business
partner and an enabler of growth, it becomes a core competency that is
very hard to outsource.”
But he adds that if IT isn’t already at the table, it’s a bad sign.
”If IT is still trying to get to the table, they’re on a very slippery
slope to extinction,” Abbott explains. ”Functions and tasks that are
not seen as value-add or core competencies are candidates for
outsourcing. If it’s the same-old, same-old, it’s a candidate for
Steve Wrenn, of Liberty Mutual, says it’s key for IT professionals to
make themselves part of the business team. It’s no longer enough to keep
the trains running, technology wise. The technology often can be run from
… well, as far away as India.
But to have a relationship with business executives, to be on ‘the
business team’ — that’s a job that would be much harder to be done from
”The back piece of IT can be done anywhere,” says Wrenn. The service
delivery piece is there to make sure the internal infrastructure is
delivering… If you are perceived as adding something extra, you don’t
have to worry so much about being outsourced.”
Once IT is aligned with business and working together to solve customer
needs, conversations about outsourcing IT often are put on the back
burner. But that’s not always the case, Bramhall warns. The financial
advantage of outsourcing work to people who are paid a fraction of what
American workers earn is sometimes too great to pass up — no matter how
aligned IT and business have become.
But that alignment gives IT workers that much more job security.
”I don’t think you’ll ever get rid of outsourcing because there’s value
in it,” says Bramhall. ”I went in to one company two years ago to work
with IT and six months in, the CEO said he had been thinking of
outsourcing them, but changed his mind… It’s about making sure you’re
delivering what they want.”