Retain your staff if you outsource
Many organization consider outsourcing this or that IT function. Sometimes an outsourcing move can cause challenges to keeping your staff happy and productive. This tip offers some ideas on how to keep your staff on the team as storage outsourcing changes are considered.
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As storage outsourcing through the use of storage service providers (SSPs) becomes more popular, storage managers increasingly have to deal with potential issues associated with outsourcing. If you're thinking about outsourcing your storage, you should attempt to learn from the experiences of other branches of IT, which have longer experience with outsourcing.
One critical area is keeping your key storage staff. Although outsourcing may reduce the need to add storage management staff and often reduces the number of storage management people an enterprise needs, there are still critical staff members you don't want to lose.
According to the Sourcing Interests Group (www.sourcinginterests.org) a group of companies specializing in outsourcing, the twin keys to keeping staffers in outsourcing are honesty and having a retention plan. It is especially important to be open with staffers during the initial analysis when the enterprise is merely looking at outsourcing storage. Some companies try to keep the fact they are considering outsourcing storage a secret from the staff. Not only doesn't this work, it undermines the staff's trust in the company, it encourages harmful rumors and sets the stage for mass defections during the important transition period, the Group says.
Beyond building trust, a company planning to outsource its storage should have a key employee retention plan in place. The plan needs to address the concerns of the storage staffers, especially the ones you are going to want to keep, and it should include actively seeking their input in both the analysis and development phase, the group says. Having input -- and being listened to -- are critical in building trust.
The Sourcing Interests Group has a number of white papers and other materials in outsourcing IT functions available on its web site. Particularly useful is a slide presentation titled, "Identifying and Avoiding the Pitfalls to Outsourcing Success" which identifies thirteen major mistakes in outsourcing. To find this presentation, go to the Web site (www.sourcinginterests.org) and search for the document by name.
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Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
This was first published in September 2001