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

In a sliding market, outsourcing looks increasingly attractive. In this era of drastic cost cutting and budget squeezing, many IT managers facing diminished budgets and frozen in-house resources are exploring ways of sending even more work off site to save money, or at least take capital costs off their immediate plate.

But with traditional outsourcing opportunities all but played out, many enterprises are asking, "Is there anything left to outsource?"

[ Sometimes, outsourcing can do more harm than good. Check out the worst cases in "Painful lessons from IT outsourcing gone bad." | InfoWorld's Ephraim Schwartz explains the slippery slope of outsourcing dependency. ]

Four critical IT tasks -- project management, e-discovery, regulatory compliance, and environmental activities -- are all ripe for outsourcing. But today, they are generally not outsourced because managers don't think they can send the work off site due to cost, security, and other concerns. It's time to rethink the anxieties in these four areas.

Outsourcing opportunity No. 1: Project management
Project management involves organizing and balancing three basic elements: people, time, and money. Many IT shops would like to unload the nuts and bolts of IT project management onto an outside provider, but worry that the task is simply too big, too complex, and perhaps even too important to outsource. Managers also fret about losing the precise control and oversight successful project management requires, as well as the ability to turn on a dime if circumstances demand a sudden change in tactics.

[ Project management is an increasingly key skill for IT. Find out the others in InfoWorld's "Where IT jobs are headed" slideshow. | Get sage IT career advice from Bob Lewis' Advice Line blog. ]

Beth Anderson, IT supervisor for Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., a specialty tobacco and cigarette manufacturer, overcame her reluctance to outsourcing project management after discussing her reservations with SMBology, a firm that handles project management. After some discussions, the partners decided on a staged approach. "We've given them some technical project management responsibility for a couple of major projects," she says. "So it is significant ... but it's not like we've outsourced all project management." A current project aims to add mobility functionality to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform.

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