Is the credit crunch forcing you to shelve your ICT project? Think again.

28 April 2009

Global markets are in decline and spend within organisations is rapidly being minimised in an effort to lower costs. Trimming the fat from anorganisation is a prudent exercise in lean times but the ultimate goal,ensuring a competitive organisation that can weather the storm, needs to take precedence. Thus, rather than blindly cutting Information CommunicationTechnology (ICT) costs and shelving upcoming projects, businesses should examine their return on spend and consider approaches, like outsourcing,which assist to contain costs and maximise the benefits of ICT infrastructure and applications.

This is according to Jaroslav Cerny, MD at RDB Consulting, a company established in 1995 that offers professional database, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Intelligence (BI) and operating system (OS)support, consulting, project management, solutions architecture and more.

“Having the vision to invest today will assist to minimise ongoing costs, improve efficiencies, enhance service delivery and ultimately grow the business,” he says. “There are four areas that together underpin the successof an organisation going forward. These are BI, Data Warehousing, ERP and the underlying OS’. Businesses that are considering halting ICT projects that affect these four areas, face the prospect of repercussions with a long-term impact.”

It is crucial for organisations to differentiate themselves in turbulent times and creating a competitive edge is paramount. To achieve this, it is essential to construct in-house efficiencies that ripple outwards, suggests Cerny. In addition, he says, the rule of ‘know thy customer’ plays a more important role as it allows companies to meet exact customer requirements and sell them the appropriate products and/or services.

“Achieving this is complex to say the least and disjointed or disparate information is the main stumbling block,” notes Cerny. “Housing information in centralised areas and having intelligent reporting and analysis, and well defined processes, assists a company to understand where it is in terms of performance. While this might create the business case for companies to invest in ICT, many are reacting with the usual ‘knee jerk’ response of tightening their belts.”

“There needs to be a distinction between cost and benefit,” emphasises Cerny. Outsourcing these projects as well as ongoing maintenance and support is a viable alternative to the more costly route of handling these issues in-house.

The benefits of outsourcing “Outsourcing is an attractive option in an economic downturn for a number of reasons,” says Cerny. “The general lifespan of ICT equipment is three years but a tighter budget might require that this be extended. Outsourcing plays an important role in extending the functionality of ICT hardware and software, protecting legacy investments. For instance, certain hardware can be redeployed in other areas. Outsourcing companies can assist to identify areas and opportunities (e.g, in the data warehouse, BI or ERP environment) where existing equipment can be used or redeployed.

“In addition, outsourcing specialists have many years’ collective experience and their skills more often than not are highly superior to in-house skills. Furthermore, they employ best practices and methodologies and have high ethics and standards, ensuring a successful project.”

Another ‘spin off’ benefit of these outsourced skills that impacts the bottom line in a serious way is the option of ‘open source’ software or freeware, significantly reducing ongoing costs as this software does not incur licenses. And what better way than to limit ongoing costs when in the midst of a global economic downturn. Drawing on the expertise of an outsourced partner in the field of freeware is recommended. And as per the inference of the term open source, it is not proprietary and therefore development is ‘bullet proof’ as there are thousands of developers globally that are continuing to refine and create new functionality out of open source software. Think of it as a global research and development team that is sharing its progress with all companies that make use of open source software.

In general, projects driven in-house are not bound by service- and operations-level agreements that set the standards in terms of delivery for outsourced projects. In-house projects also often take far longer to complete. Outsourcing delivers the benefit of a refined approach, processes and execution of the project.

“Ongoing maintenance and support can also contribute to high operational costs within a company,” adds Cerny. “Rather than dedicating an in-house resource to a function that might require a few hours per week or month, outsourcing will ensure these support and maintenance issues are resolved promptly with the benefit of the ‘pay-as-you-go’ concept.”

Outsourcing also assists organisations to develop their own skills through the concept of skills transfer. Some companies might not completely outsource a project to a partner but will approach the project with a combination of an outsourced company and their own in-house skills that learn ‘on the job’.

“The benefits of outsourcing are countless, especially in turbulent markets and economies,” concludes Cerny. “Shrinking budgets and keeping a keen eye on reducing ongoing operational spend are countered with the introduction of outsourcing. So, rather than shelving that ICT project or struggling with the cost of ongoing support and maintenance, look towards an outsourced partner that will minimise the impact of the global downturn.”

About RDB Consulting Established in 1995, RDB Consulting is an outsource and consulting company that specialises in four areas: relational databases, Operating Systems, Business Intelligence/Performance Management and Enterprise Resource Planning. The organisation also offers project management, solutions architecture, on-going maintenance and support and more. Our services are designed to provide businesses access to expert technical resources whether full time, part time, co-managed or via remote administration. This allows companies to focus on their ‘core’ business and leave their ICT issues to the experts. We worry about your database systems so that you can focus on your core business.

For further information contact:

Mark Robinson
Service Delivery Manager
RDB Consulting
Tel: 011- 807 7663
Cell: 082 893 0925