Outsource Of Course
Kenway Consulting has had the good fortune of client relationships spanning the small business to big business spectrum. Of course, we are grateful for our Fortune 1000 clients, whose large initiatives and the multiplicity of them has kept us engaged and re-engaged for years. Additionally, we are grateful for our small and mid-sized business clients, whose niche needs and point-in-time projects afford us the opportunities to provide leadership and strategic direction in short bursts, which keep us sharp on transition activities, equipping businesses to live without us after the work is completed.
A phrase I have said many times, without knowing to whom I should provide credit for, is “if something is outside of your core competency, outsource it”. To find the author of this quote, so that I could appropriately direct credit, I found some interesting articles. A gentleman by the name of Marc Brodeur, CEO of Brode, wrote the following related to outsourcing:
“Outsourcing is a great way to let other experts sweat the details, and allow your company to focus on what it does best. So don’t outsource what you’re supposed to do best. If you are an author, you would never outsource your writing. If you are a restaurant, you would not want to outsource your cooking. If you were a web design firm, you would want to think long and hard about outsourcing any of your tech. But on the flip-side, it would be ridiculous for a law firm to create their own website, and it would be crazy for a web design firm to try to manage their own legal documents.”
It’s interesting to see how often these basic common sense rules of thumb are violated. I’ve seen several large companies of the Fortune 1000 variety go through a myriad of IT transformations, never quite resulting in the type of transformational change they sought. These companies are great at managing their core competency, whether it be pharmaceutical research, financial accounts or telecommunications towers. But IT Strategy and Execution? Debatable.
Taking a page from many disruptors in the technology landscape, the art of outsourcing is knowing what you do best, i.e. your core competency, and spending your energies managing and improving that. And carefully look to outsource everything else, and ensure you have the right management of these outsourcing relationships. Why try to create a robust HR department when your core competency is the research and development of cancer treatments? Why try to create and maintain a robust IT department when your core competency is sound-proofing mass transit rail cars? And why hire internal Finance personnel when your core competency is menu-creation and cooking? The answer, in many cases, is simple. Don’t. Outsource it to professionals who do strictly those things. And manage the relationships.
Recently, we at Kenway enhanced our IT Strategy service offering to include Fractional CIO services. The thought is that small and mid-sized companies have the same need for senior, strategic leadership of their IT journey as large companies do, but perhaps not the volume of it to justify the type of spend it would take to have someone full-time with the right skills. So rather than finding someone to hire on the cheap to justify the full-time spend, and/or hiring an extremely talented resource who might get bored, our clients are looking to Kenway to fill the senior, strategic acumen in a fractional way. In this scenario, our client gets the CIO leadership it needs, but doesn’t have to pay a full-time employee to get it. And doesn’t have to carry the key-person risk associated with potentially losing that person.
I am proud to say that at Kenway, we have outsourced our HR – Operations, Accounting, Public Relations and Recruiting. But IT Leadership? Yeah, I think we’ll keep that in house. If you are interested in learning more about our Fractional CIO practice within our IT Strategy service, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.