With the economic climate in the US and Europe still uncertain, many small and medium businesses are looking at outsourcing business services now more than ever. Those businesses that have already outsourced parts of their IT operations are looking to outsource more, and those that haven’t are looking to start. One thing that stops or slows down businesses looking to outsource is simply not knowing where to begin. Here are six places you can start: SaaS: Software as a Service allows you to only pay for the software you use and only while you’re using it. This also has the benefit of cutting management and IT infrastructure needed to support a large collection of software across your computers. A report from 2008 suggest that even in the dark ages of SaaS, companies could expect to save over 50% in some instances, and occasionally more. Managed Hosting: Off-site managed hosting will allow you to make drastic cuts to your in-house IT budget, as well as seriously reduce overhead from having your hosting infrastructure in your office or at a rented space. Managed hosting is one of the oldest, and most well understood, form of IT outsourcing, so there are significantly less risks than with almost any other plan. Data Center: Data centers make the most sense for companies that either generate or process large amounts of data. Besides saving money on storage and processing, data centers also offer increased security, with redundant backups, high-level encryption, and other protective measures. The added security often makes this a worthwhile investment even when cost-cutting is minimal. Asset Management: In asset management outsourcing, an outsourcing agency takes over the management and support for IT assets like servers, computers and workstations, phones, and other office equipment. While the levels of support provided vary from provider to provider, this is a great way to offload many of the costs involved with running a large office organization. Product Service/Customer Support: If you are in the business of selling technology, one less-often considered form of technology outsourcing is outsourcing your service and support divisions. Toshiba has had great success with outsourcing their service and repair divisions to UPS supply chain solutions in 2004, and HP has been doing it even longer. Likewise, tech support service and call centers can easily be outsourced, increasing margins on products and cutting infrastructure costs dramatically. Outsourcing Strategy: Almost too obvious, companies can outsource their outsourcing strategy to a firm that handles the planning, cost-benefit analysis, and coordination of outsourcing plans. While this may be more costly in the short run than handling the process in-house, a good outsourcing consultancy can get your business significant savings in the long-term.

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