More than half of UK organisations believe they are paying too much for IT contractors, according to research by business and IT consultancy firm Morse.
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Some 52.5% of 200 IT directors surveyed said they are paying a premium to contractors to access the specific skills and experience they need.
Prices have increased with demand from IT departments forced to cut permanent staff in the economic downturn, said Mike Devlin, director at Morse.
Most UK organisations have become increasingly dependent on contractors to meet skills gaps, with 71% of those surveyed using the strategy.
This typically results in contractor lock in because they are the only ones with knowledge of a specific part of the business, said Devlin.
These commitments are sapping budgets and causing IT departments to become less flexible and able to respond to the changing needs of the business, he said.
Some 72% of survey respondents said not having the resources for the right skills was preventing the IT department from taking on projects that would help the business.
"The research shows the difficulties many UK organisations have in balancing their IT and business needs," said Devlin.
The economic downturn is forcing IT managers to reassess the way they source the skills they need, he said.
According to Morse, outsourcing to a third-party managed service provider will free IT departments from contractor lock-in and enable a more co-ordinated approach.
Organisations can build a more strategic relationship with a single service provider rather than multiple contractors seeking to entrench their positions, said Devlin.
Through managed service providers, organisations can access the right skills for the right periods of time without the constraints of fixed contract terms, he said.