4 tasks you fear to outsource but should try

To save money, reconsider these ripe outsourcing opportunities you may have never (or were afraid to) put on the table

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Regardless of an outsourcing project's scale or scope, Anderson believes that it's vital for the provider to maintain a physical connection with its client. "[SMBology] is physically here to gather requirements and ... when we're doing user testing, so we've got real quick communications," she notes. "If the user sees something that's not working the way they want it to, then the people are here to fix it."

Justin Singer, SMBology's president, says that many IT shops are reluctant to embrace project management outsourcing because they were soured by previous on-site project management experiences. "They may not have experience with what a really good project can look like," he explains. "It's hard for them to really see what the benefits are going to be."

Anderson says outsourcing benefits have generally met her expectations. "You get elastic access to talent, and you get specialized skills that you don't have a need for 365 days a year on your own internal team," she says. "So you can ramp up and stretch the elastic when you need the resources, and then you can snap it back when you no longer need them."

Outsourcing opportunity No. 2: Electronic discovery
Over the years, e-discovery (sifting through data pertaining to criminal or civil legal cases) has grown into a burdensome task for IT shops working inside law firms or enterprises with corporate legal departments. It would be nice if some or all the responsibility for storing and managing theses important documents could be offloaded onto an outside service provider. Yet IT managers often feel that privacy and security issues, as well as user access limitations, make the effective outsourcing of e-discovery material difficult, if not impossible.

[ Find out the mistakes that can kill your electronic archiving efforts in Ephraim Schwartz's "The art of e-discovery." ]

But Seth Row, an associate at law firm Holland & Knight, sees it differently. "There are some things I wish we could do more of in-house, but given the current realities, it's not possible," he says. That's why, like a growing number of IT shops in a similar situation, Holland & Knight is outsourcing much of its e-discovery work. "It's good to have options," Row says. "You need to be prepared for lots of different contingencies, so developing relationships with vendors is very important -- it's important that they're there as a resource."

Row notes that a growing number of legal cases focus on e-mail evidence. "E-mail is usually the largest volume of electronic data that you're dealing with in a lawsuit, particularly in an employment-related lawsuit," Row observes. But Row notes that it's virtually impossible to search e-mail effectively in its native client environment. "That doesn't work very well, so it's got to be processed into a database before you can search it across the different fields," he explains. "It's got to get processed so that I can search all the e-mails and all the associated attachments that contain a particular word, or a particular concept."

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