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In some cases, outsourcers bear the risk of ensuring that the technology itself is reliable. For example, the city of Minneapolis sold its assets to the vendor. The outsourcer now owns all of the PCs and is responsible for upgrading the Microsoft software and refresh- ing systems to maintain reliability. None of the risk of upgrading the PCs and ensuring reliabil- ity falls on the city anymore, since the out- sourcer owns all of the assets.

The city of Chicago, Ill., on the other hand, continues to own the assets. The city bears the burden and risk of upgrading equipment while the vendor manages the assets. Half of the PCs still run on Windows 98 because the hardware does not support newer operating systems. The burden of improving the technology falls on the city to obtain more reliable systems.

Improving Service by Increasing Operational Efficiency Over the next five years, local governments will face unprecedented pressures to provide better services while maintaining or reducing costs. Improving service to the end users is another driver of organizations considering outsourcing. For example, outsourcing help desk functions to a vendor who specializes in help desk support can improve the quality of services to the end user. Having specialized in that industry, the outsourcer uses industry best practices to ensure call waiting is minimized and issues are resolved quickly.

An outsourcer may bring leading-edge tech- nology to allow for quick look-up features, storage and retrieval of data, and top-of-the- line customer relations management. This expertise provides the government with the opportunity to provide the total positive cus- tomer experience.

A byproduct of outsourcing to improve service

A Strategic Guide with insight from THE CENTER FOR DIGITAL GOVERNMENT

is improved business. All local government partic- ipants in a recent meeting to discuss outsourcing, indicated that they had used their outsourcing engagements to standardize business processes and technology, which increases efficiency. For example, prior to outsourcing, the IT environ- ment in the city of Minneapolis was decentral- ized. Outsourcing helped centralize its IT infra- structure. For example, the CIO consolidated operating systems by standardizing on Microsoft.

For San Diego County, Calif., outsourcing brought consolidation and standardization. The deputy CIO said that outsourcing provided upgraded technology, a reliable infrastructure and a dependable support team.

Eliminating Out-of-Control Services or Unnecessary Resources Outsourcing can be used to impose discipline on “out-of-control” functions. However, the manager is still responsible for the outsourced function. But, if the function is difficult to man- age because of inefficient processes or misun- derstood requirements, outsourcing the ineffi- cient process will most likely not fix it. The organization needs to understand its own processes in order to communicate them to the outsourcer. In many cases, a quality-out- sourcing firm brings expertise to bear on this problem as well.


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