The hidden costs of outsourcing

Calculating the total cost of IT services has always been a challenge, but the changing nature of IT coupled with unexpected expenses revealed during the COVID-19 crisis could leave your organization exposed to even more surprises charges.

One of the biggest mistakes an IT organization can make when outsourcing is failing to consider the total cost of the relationship — including all the hidden costs that are likely to accrue. Historically, there has been little incentive for service providers to bring these looming financial risks out into the open, so customers must be diligent about identifying these additional expenses in order to manage or eliminate them.

“Motivated customers can take this a step further and press their potential providers for greater transparency in the sourcing process. If you want to avoid unexpected costs cropping up, push your vendor to be clear about what’s included and what to expect if the engagement flexes or scales,” says Phil Fersht, CEO of outsourcing advisory and research firm HfS Research. “More importantly, the whole industry needs to get past its transactional heritage and start pushing towards genuine partnerships that are invested in mutual success.”

Veteran IT leaders understand this. But these issues have only gotten thornier. Outsourcing customers and their providers have shifted from traditional software and infrastructure solutions to cloud and everything-as-a-service. Moreover, new ways of working have been adopted to enable agile digital transformation. Add to all that the unprecedented disruption of a global pandemic.

“As most of the hidden costs are more nuanced and exaggerated than they were two years ago, it is even more critical to ensure recipients understand the impacts, know how they manifest, and ensure there is familiarity with the desired outcomes,” says Craig Wright, managing director with business transformation and outsourcing advisory firm Pace Harmon.

As always, the onus is on the buyer to beware. To that end, here are some of the most common hidden costs likely to emerge during the course of an outsourcing engagement today.

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