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Updated by Charles Bystock on 02/29/2016


IT management companies

When evaluating different outsourcing options and determining which one is best for you, something that must be taken into consideration is security and any potential risks associated with the outsourcing decision. Security is always a concern for IT leaders looking to make a change, but if the proper precautions are taken, IT leaders can feel confident in their choices and rest easy knowing that they’ve done their due-diligence and can take something else off of their crammed plates to make room for more critical duties.

Here are 3 steps that any IT leader should take in order to reduce security risks and maximize outsourcing benefits:

  1. Ask yourself this question

    “Can I actually improve security by engaging with outside expertise?”

    Believe it or not, most outside service providers are putting more emphasis and greater investment into security practices than your company.  This takes security to a whole new level, as security is their particular area of expertise and what they do on a daily basis, versus a company that is only implementing security measures in their IT department and isn’t something that they specialize in. So the answer to that question is, yes, most likely your security can be improved by engaging with outside service provider expertise. And by asking yourself this question, you are able to evaluate each individual service provider effectively against security processes that you currently have in place to see if the relationship would actually be beneficial and improve your circumstances.
  2. Do your due-diligence

    When you are going through the outsourcing process and are evaluating different service providers, do your due-diligence on their security. It’s important to make security a primary topic during your outsourcing evaluation and if/when you get to the stage of drafting a service-level agreement, ensure that it is a topic that is specifically addressed within the agreement. Additionally, make sure that the specific roles and responsibilities that fall within security are clearly defined between you and the provider.

    Remember, in the end, you are ultimately responsible for the security of your data. Just because you outsource a function doesn’t mean all of the responsibility falls upon the service provider. You must make a clear delineation of security roles and responsibilities between you and the provider to avoid any confusion or breakdown in communication later that can ultimately lead to a data tragedy.
  3. Establish a solid relationship

    Perhaps most important to reducing risks (of any kind) during outsourcing is to establish a strong relationship with your service provider. Since this is a company that is essentially taking over this function of your business, it’s important to feel comfortable with them and know that they are going to be available when you pick up the phone and need something immediately. Paying attention to cultural match during the selection process is key to a successful working relationship between you and your security provider. Additionally, it’s important that during the selection process you ensure that you are matched with a provider that can meet your particular needs. For example, if you’re a healthcare company, you must match yourself with a provider that can meet strict HIPAA compliance and security requirements while also being a fit for your enterprise culturally. Along with establishing a strong relationship, a solid communication plan must also be established.

    When you look at past outsourcing relationships that have failed, it’s generally because of poor communication or deteriorating relationships, not a technical issue such as breach in security or failure of systems. You have to think of outsourcing as a partnership; you and the service provider are in this together, and security is a priority for both of you.

By asking yourself the all-important question of whether outsourcing to an outside service provider can actually improve your security, doing your due-diligence regarding security during the selection process, and establishing a solid relationship and communication plan with your service provider, you can actually reduce outsourcing risks and take full advantage of the benefits that outsourcing has to offer, such as reduced costs, increased capacity, and more.