IT Outsourcing: Graduate Area of Work
Outsourcing is a rapidly growing area in the IT sector, encouraged mainly by the speed with which technology is evolving. With the IT sector developing as fast as it is – take, for instance, the boom in cloud computing, big data, and mobile technology – many companies are finding it a challenge to keep up and to maintain an in-house IT team to cater to these changes, making outsourcing a more preferable option.
This increase in demand has made the environment a competitive one, particularly in Singapore as one of the primary IT hub in the Southeast Asian region; and services providers need to constantly be two steps ahead of the market in order to succeed.
Most major outsourcing services providers make it a point to cover as many aspects of technology as possible – ranging from hardware such as PCs to mainframes, to software like Microsoft/Apple packages, to major SAP (Systems, Applications & Product) implementations – and often also offering other supporting technology and training services to complement their offerings.
Not only that, they will also need to make use of their expertise to reduce the cost of service, provide greater capacity on demand to their clients, as well as improve the availability of systems for them. A primary example of such an IT services provider is HCL Technologies, which is based in India.
An IT services provider can offer their services in a variety of forms – whether individually, combined as a package to provide an overall service offering, or customisable according to the needs of the client. Most offerings will fall into either one of the three areas:
- Applications management: Where the contracted services provider is asked to develop and/or maintain key applications for a client.
- Infrastructure support: Where the services provider manages and maintains the client’s IT environment and infrastructure, including (but not limited to) PCs, printers, networks, and servers.
- Business process outsourcing (BPO): Where the client completely outsources a business process/function within the company – e.g. HR or finance, to a services provider. In other words, the services provider not only takes care of the infrastructure and systems needed to support the process, but will also perform the function on behalf of the client.
These services are then offered to the clients through a mix of onshore, nearshore, and offshore service delivery centres, depending on the location of the client.
Most organisations typically start their graduate hire off with a training programme that lets them try out a few areas of work to gauge their preference and capability. Following that, you will typically be assigned to one service team that works on one particular function/area or client, usually in specific technical roles such as telecoms support, networking support, or programming.
In some cases, you may also find yourself being part of the customer services department, where you’ll be providing technical assistance to clients and customers as part of a service desk operation.
As you work, you can progress your career in two ways:
1. By specialising in a particular technology or technical field, or
2. By moving into project or service management instead.
The former option will require you to gain as much in-depth knowledge as possible, whereas the latter puts you in a closer contact with clients and customers.
Candidates wishing to work in this field need to have a degree with a strong technical element, but you should not be discouraged if your degree is not directly related to the position that you’re applying for.
Most employers value your enthusiasm to pick up new technical abilities on the job, and you will stand an even better chance if you’ve been exposed to some of the concepts or processes that are related to outsourcing and IT service provision.
It’s also important for you to be an excellent communicator as you’ll be liaising often with your clients, particularly if you’re assigned to the customer services department as a technical person.
Patience, good planning skills, and the ability to prioritise are also traits that you need to have as you’ll be serving multiple clients from all walks of life, with multiple deadlines to different projects to meet.
Pros and cons
Work in this area promises a lot of excitement due to its exponential growth and dynamic atmosphere, and you can also look forward to working in a variety of business environments thanks to the client-facing component of your job. As your clients will come from different industries, there will be plenty of learning and networking opportunities for you as you get exposed to the trends in different sectors.
That said, the rapid technology developments can be just as taxing as it is exciting. You may finish working on an updated system or studying an upcoming trend, only to find that the trend is already outmoded. You may also find yourself facing clients with the occasional demanding technical expectations.