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Updated by Charles Bystock on 10/06/2014

datacenter_outsource_parachuteAre you sure outsourcing is the right direction for your enterprise? And exactly what type of “data center outsourcing” do you need? You wouldn’t depart on a long road trip without a full tank of gas and a map, you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, and you shouldn’t make any data center outsourcing decisions without a comprehensive internal IT assessment in hand.

Do that assessment before you do anything else.

Assessment is the first step toward a successful outsourcing journey, whatever your destination.

Like a map, assessment enables you to devise a plan based on that desired destination – your corporate business goals and IT service needs. In turn, that helps you define a timeframe for travel – in this case, implementing your transition – and identify exactly what tools your enterprise needs to make a successful journey into the future marketplace.

Like a parachute, an assessment ensures you’ll arrive safely – or, in this case, strategically. Without a parachute, you’re assured of disastrous results. Without a thorough assessment, you could make disastrous data center outsourcing decisions that waste money and cost you customers as well as your long-term ability to grow and thrive.

What constitutes a thorough assessment?

Total data.

Up-to-date data. Information that’s old or not all there guarantees your action plan will send you in the wrong data center outsourcing direction. You may feel you have a solid, accurate handle on obvious IT costs, but a thorough assessment includes indirect expenses easily overlooked if you’re too “IT” focused. You can no longer separate IT from all the other aspects of your company, and you shouldn’t. IT permeates and enables everything.

So look up costs hidden on non-IT budget lines, such as personnel, overhead, travel, etc. And note other related expenses such as amortization, depreciation and possible costs associated with canceling unexpired contracts, if that may occur. You can’t understand your current total cost of ownership or make adequate comparisons with alternatives unless you have all those numbers available.

Cultural and other intangibles.

Making smart data center outsourcing decisions involves more than numbers. You can’t make decisions in the abstract because have to implement them. That requires overt support – preferably enthusiasm – from internal stakeholders. That’s everybody, from the C-suite to employees all around the world. Without support, your transition could suffer from foot-dragging, outright refusal to play or even sabotage.

On the other hand, deliberately addressing personal concerns about job security, etc. will help drive better results and underscore your company’s commitment to employees as well as the bottom line.

Your customers will be pleased with your upgrades, too. With luck, they will see only seamless, better-than-ever transactions. But when you ensure they’re getting the best experience possible you’re ensuring their loyalty.

An open mind.

Sometimes IT managers or corporate executives approach data center outsourcing with preconceived notions about what transformational changes are needed. Or perhaps your colleagues at a similar enterprise have made successful changes you want to implement, too. The problem is, “one size fits all” fits no one. No other configuration, no matter how effective for some other company, will do your company justice because your circumstances are unique.

That’s why an assessment that considers overall business goals is essential to build a business case for IT transformation that actually speaks to your needs. The good news is that your well-selected consultant understands your situation – both the business aspects and the IT aspects -- so they can help you quickly short-list the most promising solutions and vendors.

With an expert by your side and all the necessary data at hand, you can confidently take the next steps toward data center outsourcing.

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc