IT outsourcing: graduate area of work
Outsourcing is the process of obtaining goods or services from an external source that has specialist expertise. A supplier of outsourced IT services, for example, is a specialist in managing, maintaining and developing the IT systems and/or non-critical business processes (such as HR and payroll or finance and accounting systems) for a client organisation. This allows the client to concentrate on their core business. Outsourcing can have significant cost benefits over running an in-house IT department and gives the client access to the wider expertise of the outsourcing organisation.
The outsourcing organisation delivers its service according to a service level agreement (SLA) and may use a mix of onshore (domestic), nearshore (neighbouring countries) and offshore (further afield) service delivery centres around the globe to provide the skills and technology necessary.
Outsourcing breaks down into a number of functional areas or services that can be supplied either individually or combined in a variety of ways to provide an overall service offering. These areas include:
- Applications management, where key applications may be developed and/or maintained on behalf of a client.
- Infrastructure support, where the supplier manages the client’s IT environment and supplies an IT infrastructure to support the client’s business, including PCs, printers, networks and servers.
- Business process outsourcing (BPO), where the client outsources a business process such as HR or finance. The supplier provides not only the infrastructure and systems to support the process, but also undertakes that process on the client’s behalf.
Client-focused work that uses a range of tech expertise
A wide range of technical knowledge is required to cover all aspects of outsourcing, from PCs to mainframes and from Microsoft package software to bespoke applications and major SAP implementations – these are all brought together with supporting technology. Outsourcing organisations have to use technology and processes effectively to reduce the cost of service, to offer client organisations greater capacity on demand and to improve the availability of systems for clients.
Outsourcing is a rapidly growing area within the IT business – established suppliers are especially vigilant as to what their competitors are doing. Clients, supported by experts in procuring outsourcing deals, have become demanding in their expectations, so outsourcing organisations have to be well positioned to sell their expertise and be up on what the market demands to win contracts.
Effective service provision relies on getting close to the client in their working environment, which makes mobility a requirement as clients will be in a range of locations.
When you start out you will typically be assigned to one service team, but as your experience increases you may divide your time between a number of clients. The pace of work depends on the type of service being provided.
Graduate skills needed to work in IT outsourcing
Graduates with a good undergraduate degree that has a strong technical element have an advantage. To boost your application you should try to gain an understanding of some of the concepts behind outsourcing and IT service provision.
In addition to your enthusiasm to get stuck in and build on your technical abilities and understanding, you will need to be a team player and good at planning and prioritisation. Nearly all outsourcing work is client facing, which means you will need to understand the importance of, and be willing to engage in, providing a high level of customer service.
How to get into outsourcing and make a career of it
A good graduate training programme will allow you to work across a number of disciplines and will help you to find the area that suits you. At entry level, roles tend to be geared towards specific technical areas, for example telecoms support, networking support or programming. You may be engaged in customer services, providing technical support to users as part of a service desk operation.
How you progress will depend on you. You could specialise in a particular technology and become recognised in that field, or you may prefer to move into project or service management. Projects are aimed at delivering benefits to external customers or providing capability internally to enable the organisation to meet customer needs, whereas service management is ongoing and focuses on the external customer.
Choose this IT career area if…
- You want to work in an area of IT that is growing rapidly.
- You like variety and want to work in a range of business environments.
- You are prepared to work hard and you want to receive good rewards.
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