As multi-sourcing becomes the default IT outsourcing model, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) should not overlook the advantages of a close relationship with a sole supplier.
According to ISG, UK organisations are mature multi-sourcers of IT. Research released by the company earlier this year revealed that in the UK, 44% of outsourced functions are split five ways and just 6% of contracts are single-sourced.
While the advantages of multi-sourcing include choice, supplier competition and easier exit strategies – which appeal to large customers – a single-sourced model can lead to a relationship built on trust and mutual understanding, which can be beneficial for smaller growing companies.
Design firm Oktra has no regrets being one of the 6% of businesses in the UK that outsource their entire IT operation.
In 2006, the company signed an agreement with Exec Sys, whose customers include Swale Heating.
The plan has given the company the flexibility to access IT resources when required, and has helped it expand over the last eight years. In 2006, it had 10 staff, but today that number has risen to 74. The company is a heavy user of IT with computer-aided design one of its main tasks.
Oktra managing director Geoff Andrew said the cost of IT is 60% lower using a sole supplier compared with the price of in-house IT.
Besides the cost factors, access to onshore and offshore IT has allowed the firm to punch above its weight.
For example, its sole service provider recently proved its worth when the company fell victim to malware. Exec Sys conducts daily, automated server imaging on to recovery servers to ensure – in the event of an outage – that Oktra’s business can continue by accessing its rescue IT systems. This was recently put to the test when the company was struck by the Cryptolocker virus.
Andrew said that, when a member of staff opened an email attachment containing malware, everything stopped. He added that, without the close attention from its service provider, this would have stopped work for days until they could fix it, but "we were back up and running in four hours".
Oktra is also able to keep up with the latest IT through its relationship with Exec Sys. Recent projects have seen it virtualise servers, move data storage off site and the introduce mobile computing capabilities.
It created a network and high-speed fibre communications infrastructure for Oktra, with a single point of contact and is using a range of cloud-based services.
“Exec Sys is essentially our IT department and cover all areas of our technology and communication needs,” said Andrew. “Over the past eight years they have provided a consistently stable, secure and evolving technology platform, enabling our team to focus 100% on running the business. We also have access to Exec Sys’ IT expertise and advice – which is reassuring for our staff."