The Cosmos Wrestle with Outsourcing

There are some things that are best done by someone else. In my case, that happens to be anything to do with my automobile. My dad changed his own oil, but I’ve chosen to outsource that responsibility to Jiffy Lube. And brakes? Forget about it. Picturing my kids screaming as the car careens out of control makes me lean away from changing my own brakes. But, my lawn is a totally different question. The lawn, that is all mine—and nobody else is touching it. So how does one decide what is smart to outsource and what is best kept in house?

I’m trying to get my arms around outsourcing of IT in healthcare. Over the last four years there has been essentially no growth in organizations fully outsourcing their IT. For every group that decides outsourcing is a good idea, another decides it is not. It’s like there is some kind of equilibrium in the universe that must be maintained. Cerner, not a traditional outsourcer, is jumping full force into the market space and now has taken over IT operations at five hospitals with more on the way. That makes me wonder which five shops have decided to take IT back in house from one of the traditional outsourcers to keep this precarious balance.

Additionally, many IT shops that were once fully outsourced are now asking for the keys back to at least part of the ship. Application management is usually the first service an organization takes back, which makes sense since that area ties so closely to organizational strategy. Helpdesk, networks and desktops are the functions that seem to map most closely to changing the oil. People keep outsourcing those. No problem with someone else doing that, as long as they are experts. Full outsourcing is out…partial outsourcing is in. Why the cosmos cares, I’m not sure, but it sure seems to.

Our research offers a good summary of outsourcing performance—just don’t ask me for it while I’m out mowing.

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