As the manufacturing industry becomes more technology-driven, manufacturers must ensure they have the necessary IT services to remain competitive. Outsourced IT services is an increasingly popular option for manufacturers, as it allows them to focus on their core competencies while leaving the technicalities to experts.
In this article, we’ll discuss what manufacturers should look for when outsourcing IT services to ensure they get the best value for their money.
Importance of IT Services for Manufacturers
In the digital age, technology plays a crucial role in modern manufacturing. Manufacturers who have adopted advanced technologies such as IoT, automation, and AI are more productive, efficient, and profitable. However, many manufacturers lack the necessary IT expertise and resources to maintain and manage these technologies in-house. Outsourcing IT services enables manufacturers to access the technical expertise and resources they need to keep up with the fast-paced technological changes in the industry.
The rise of cloud computing has also revolutionized the way businesses approach IT services. With cloud computing, companies can outsource their computing resources to a third-party service provider, reducing the need for costly on-premise infrastructure. This is particularly relevant for outsourced IT services, as manufacturers can take advantage of the latest technologies and easily scale their computing resources up or down as needed.
To learn more about outsourced IT services, check out this article on the global market for business process outsourcing.
Key Factors to Consider when Outsourcing IT Services for Manufacturers
- Technical expertise and experience of the service provider: When outsourcing IT services, manufacturers should prioritize the technical expertise and experience of the service provider. The service provider should have experience working with manufacturers and have a deep understanding of the specific IT needs of the manufacturing industry. They should also have a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals who can provide custom solutions tailored to the manufacturer’s unique needs.
- Customization and scalability of IT solutions: Manufacturers should choose a service provider that offers customizable and scalable IT solutions. IT needs vary from one manufacturer to another, and it’s essential to have a service provider that can create solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of the manufacturer. Additionally, as manufacturers grow and their needs change, their IT solutions should be able to scale up or down accordingly.
- Cost-effectiveness of outsourcing IT services: Outsourced IT services should be cost-effective for manufacturers. The cost of outsourcing IT services should be less than the cost of hiring an in-house IT team. Additionally, manufacturers should consider the long-term cost savings of outsourcing IT services. A good service provider can help manufacturers reduce downtime, increase productivity, and avoid costly IT mistakes, all of which can lead to significant cost savings over time.
- Data security and privacy measures: Manufacturers deal with sensitive data such as product designs, customer information, and financial data. It’s crucial to choose a service provider that has robust data security and privacy measures in place to protect this sensitive data. The service provider should be able to provide regular security updates, perform regular backups, and have disaster recovery plans in place.
- Communication and project management skills of the service provider: Communication and project management are critical factors in outsourcing IT services. Manufacturers should choose a service provider that has excellent communication skills and can provide regular updates on the progress of IT projects. Additionally, the service provider should have effective project management skills and be able to manage IT projects efficiently.
Potential Challenges of Outsourced IT Services for Manufacturers
Although outsourcing IT services can be beneficial for manufacturers, it also comes with potential challenges. One of the main issues is poor communication between the manufacturer and the service provider, which can lead to misunderstandings and delays in project completion. To mitigate this, it’s crucial to establish clear lines of communication from the outset, including how often updates will be provided and what channels of communication will be used.
Outsourced IT services also means that the manufacturer is entrusting a third-party with their IT processes, which can lead to a feeling of loss of control. To mitigate this, manufacturers should establish clear expectations from the outset and ensure that they have access to the information and data they need to make informed decisions.
Quality issues can also arise if the service provider does not have the necessary technical expertise to provide high-quality IT solutions. To ensure quality, manufacturers should thoroughly research potential service providers and ask for references and case studies to ensure that they have a track record of providing high-quality IT solutions.
Overall, it’s essential to choose a service provider that is experienced in working with manufacturers, has strong communication skills, and can provide custom solutions tailored to the manufacturer’s unique needs. By doing so, manufacturers can mitigate potential challenges and realize the benefits of outsourcing IT services.
How IT for Manufacturers is Changing
The changing world of manufacturing is requiring companies to develop some skills in-house they never had to worry about before. A lot of these new skills are technically in the IT area but directly related to their day-to-day production.
This growth in technology skills runs from embedded Internet of Things devices (IoT) built into their equipment to adding RFID scanning integrated into their ERP. At the same time, the threat to regular business operations from network failures is becoming much more serious. Fewer and fewer manufacturing companies could function even for a few days if they lost access to their computer infrastructure.
Drawings are kept entirely in the computer systems and often aren’t even printed on demand, but instead are viewed in real-time at the machine. Programs are pushed out via Wi-Fi or network cables from central servers to CNC equipment. An ERP system could be entirely cloud (like the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central) and pushes paperless dispatches to touch-screen computers on the shop floor. Losing the network will mean workers don’t know what job to run next.
In today’s IT environment, managing the security and stability of the network is becoming mission-critical. It’s almost as important as keeping the 5-axis CNC work center running 24/7. It has become too complex and important for the limited resources and staff of the past. That’s where outsourced IT services come in.
Manufacturing is getting more complex all the time. General manufacturing might not be high-tech but using technology like ERP is becoming a “must-have.” In-house staff are often pulled between providing IT services to users, programming, and delivering products for customers.
When you are considering outsourced IT solutions for manufacturing, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. This article is more concerned with how to support your in-house technical team rather than just replace them with managed services.
Types of Outsourced IT Services
There are several types of outsourced IT services that manufacturers can take advantage of. Here are some of the most common types of outsourced IT services:
Managed IT Services
Managed services is about outsourcing the entire process of taking care of at least part of your network. It might just be the servers, letting your in-house IT take care of desktops. It might be the other way around.
As a general rule, we recommend against anything other than having a fully outsourced IT department. Let us handle everything. Otherwise, if a virus or problem starts outside of our area of responsibility, we won’t have had the responsibility or authority to do the preventive maintenance that has to be done. You need to be able to hold us (as a managed service provider) responsible. That is the whole point of outsourcing.
When you have that situation where you want your own IT staff to help keep the costs down, we offer Co-Managed IT. Co-Managed IT is all about sharing the tasks and duties – at a significantly lower cost than Managed Services.
Under Co-Managed IT, we both have a degree of authority and responsibility over the network. We will monitor and track how things are going. We proactively report to your team issues that need to be resolved. The two businesses work out a priority system that allows us to “kick it up a notch” if your team is too busy to do otherwise critical things.
The costs will vary a bit more month-to-month as your team’s capacity changes. Overall, it will be significantly less than Managed Services.
Managed Services are all about keeping the locks on the doors working, checking the windows, and making sure the perimeter of your network is secure.
Managed Security would be like having ADT, looking for people who somehow snuck in when nobody was looking or did manage to break a door or pick a lock. Cybercriminals are just that, criminals. Nobody can 100% prevent them from doing what they do. If the US Government can’t stop these people from hacking them, nobody can.
That being said, 99.9% of hackers are not as well funded and not as good as those who get into those super secure systems. Managed services are going to stop 95% of attempts within no more than a day or two. Managed Security is going to stop 99.9% of attempts before they get more than a step into your business.
Outsourcing IT services is an excellent option for manufacturers who want to stay competitive in the digital age. When outsourcing IT services, manufacturers should consider factors such as technical expertise, customization and scalability, cost-effectiveness, data security and privacy, and communication and project management skills. By choosing the right service provider, manufacturers can realize significant benefits such as increased productivity, reduced costs, and access to the latest technologies.
Although there may be challenges when outsourcing IT services, these can be mitigated through open communication and clear expectations. In conclusion, outsourced IT services can be a game-changer for manufacturers looking to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving world of technology.