Small businesses really are the engines of our economy. Unfortunately, the recession has taken its toll. Many of those that have managed to stay alive (and there are a lot… small businesses have a certain grit about them) have had to make cuts, or have had to put initiatives on hold. Which is why, perhaps now more than ever, IT outsourcing makes a lot of sense.
When businesses have to deal with a lack of resources for IT—be it staff, budgets or expertise—outsourcing can fill in the gaps. But the big IT outsourcing guns, such as CSC, IBM, EDS and others, aren’t typically on the radar of small businesses. And offshoring IT is seemingly even less of an option, since a big part of successful offshoring is negotiating the right contract and then managing the offshore deal once work gets underway.
Small and midsize businesses more often seek out local companies, many of whom are small and midsize businesses themselves. But expect more options to hit the market.
In fact, just this week, office retailer Staples unveiled a new service designed specifically for small businesses that want to outsource any part—or all—of their IT operations. The move is an acknowledgement of the growing need small and midsize businesses have and a central part of Staples’ strategy to become more than an office retailer and instead become also an office delivery business that services companies large and small in all of their office needs.
The new Staples Technology Solutions is supposed to be able to handle tech products and services for business customers, ranging from computer equipment and printer maintenance to managing all the company’s IT needs. The company says it could provide a full IT department to a small business (defined as a business with 10 to 250 employees).
Staples Technology Solutions is the upshot of Staples’ acquisitions of Thrive Networks, a tech consulting firm, in 2006, and Corporate Express, a European office supplier to businesses, in 2008. The new unit will offer customers services on a contract basis and charge monthly fees.
Clearly, services such as the one Staples’ new unit is offering can help small and midsize businesses make up for shrunken revenue, shrunken IT staff, and shrunken IT budgets.
But small and midsize business execs also need to consider how outsourcing some or all of their IT operations can also help propel their companies forward.
Just like bigger companies, outsourcing IT means getting back to core business operations. And focusing on what you do best means getting better at what you do best.