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Updated by Charles Bystock on 01/08/2021

The c-suite has faced many business and organizational challenges during COVID-19, and the truth is, we’re not done yet. Shelter-in-place orders caused many companies to scramble to activate a work-from-home mindset while adjusting to market volatility that made cash flow even more of a problem than usual. Throughout the ups and downs of a global pandemic, our outsourced vendor relationships have continued to evolve. What have we learned about IT outsourcing during COVID-19? Here are five best practices to consider.

 

Best practice #1: Understand you’re in this together.

Make sure the communication between you and your vendor encompasses an understanding of the challenges they are facing and how they’re overcoming them. This was a particular challenge early in the pandemic when many overseas call centers shut down for more than a month. Third-party vendors bought equipment as workers set up operations in their homes, but all of these disruptions caused chaos and frustration during a turbulent first few months of the pandemic.

 

As COVID-19 made its inexorable way to the United States, many chief information officers (CIOs) learned the hard way that the reality of outsourcing is your vendor is a partner to your business. Communication and transparency are important between vendor and client, as you work together to resolve any immediate issues. Having crucial conversations with your third-party vendors about remote work models, security, infrastructure, and even the mental health of their workforce is important to ensure the success of these business partnerships.

 

IT outsourcing

 

Best practice #2: Prepare for a long-term impact

Just as important as responding to the immediacy of any operational risks or threats, the c-suite also should concentrate on working with vendors to create long-term resilience for your organization. COVID-19 required many knee-jerk responses to the virus and its effects. But the problem appears to be more long-term than we anticipated, particularly in the U.S. as the virus continues to spike. Instead of reactionary responses to COVID-19, senior leadership must now prepare for what’s next as we move into 2021. Organizations must work together to plan for business continuity. This could include discussing critical redundancies in your outsourcing partner’s infrastructure and staffing models. Work with your vendors to determine the course of action up to and including full shutdown of their services.

 

Best practice #3: Working from home is the new normal

Many of our outsourcing partners are at least partially remote, which impacts corporate culture and how we communicate. Creating best business practices for this reality is the new imperative. Just as American enterprise organizations are changing how teams collaborate in these remote architectures, so too will your outsourced vendors. What will happen to call quality when your offshore customer service team takes calls from home? How will outsourced IT teams collaborate during deployments? All of these questions should be discussed openly for more successful partnerships during this time.

 

IT outsourcing

 

Best practice #4: Shore up IT security within the context of work from home

Optimizing your new remote workplace environment will require you to prepare IT security for the future of work. One study showed that 57% of companies are concerned about IT security risks in these new models and are not as prepared for remote work as they should be. Now is the time to not only embrace these changes, but retool your infrastructures to accommodate them as well.

 

Best practice #5: Make necessary changes to embrace remote work models from your IT vendors

Under this new reality, initiatives that have been on hold should resume and CIOs that have slowed digital transformation for when things “get back to normal” should proceed under the assumption that this, in fact, is the new normal. However, there will be new flexibility in these models that many enterprise teams haven’t seen in the past. COVID-19 has given new meaning to “Agile teams,” as even the largest bureaucracies and the smallest outsourcing realize the same realities for the work models of the future.

 

The Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory can provide the tools your team needs to adjust to new markets, work models, and challenges you may face. Talk with our team of experts to create a more resilient organization.