IT Contractors – Not A Buyer’s Market

By Geraldine Osman, EMEA Marketing Director at Barracuda Networks Surveys have made clear something that analysts have been noticing in the industry for some time – IT contractors...

By Geraldine Osman, EMEA Marketing Director at Barracuda Networks

Surveys have made clear something that analysts have been noticing in the industry for some time – IT contractors are not only thin on the ground, but expensive too.

These two points are related. There’s a limited supply of an in-demand service, and hourly rates reflect this. The use of IT contractors is certainly on the rise, and this trend is expected to continue for the rest of 2014 and beyond.

A lot of these IT contractors are working on critical IT projects. According to FierceCIO, what has surprised IT shops is that they are competing with cloud providers to hire the IT contractors who are proficient with cloud technology – even after they have deployed cloud services from those same providers.

Across the pond

The situation is similar on both sides of the Atlantic – there are certain similarities between the US and the UK. Companies that were forced to cut costs in the recent recession, according to Contractor UK, are feeling forced to “up their game” or to find lower-quality IT contractors (less qualified, and cheaper) who will work for the rates that they can afford. This obviously has a knock-on effect on quality – a lower-rate IT contractor working on a critical or important project could be a disaster. Contractor UK reports on both the UK and the US IT contractor markets.

Computerworld reports that this trend of hiring in IT contractors is likely to remain the same, at least for the foreseeable future. Nearly half the companies that were surveyed indicated that they planned to hire IT contractors in the coming year. The percentage of IT contractors in some departments is at 17%, reported the firms.

The solution?

Unfortunately for IT managers, the most straightforward way to minimise the effect of the prevailing economic conditions is to simply spend more on IT contractors. But companies without that luxury, or for organisations with the capacity to enhance their efficiency, there are several key areas where spending can be minimised. The following have been identified as drains on resources:

PST-related help desk calls. At some firms, calls pertaining to the antiquated PST file system account for 15% of help desk activity. This is a clear area to clean up – a “PST elimination project” is a solid investment that will save you money, especially if your customer support department is already struggling with its workload.

Irrelevant IT activities. There’s no need for IT departments to take responsibility for eDiscovery or eDisclosure collections, especially as the legal teams that request them are unlikely to receive the data they need – even with great communication. Advanced search products will enable the legal team itself to take ownership of the eDiscovery and eDisclosure actions, which would be a win-win: they get the results they want first time, and the IT department’s workload is significantly reduced.

Sloppy migrations. Exchange 2003 is no longer current, and those using Exchange 2007 will be migrating to Exchange 2013 or Exchange Online. But some companies are migrating before undertaking their archiving project, which results in unnecessary costs and delays as useless, out-of-date emails are migrated to the new system before being deleted.

Saving everything. Companies are often found to have kept emails that should definitely be deleted, and as a result spend vast amounts of needless time and money reviewing them as part of legal discovery. Barracuda finds that all too often, companies that save everything end up discovering everything, too.

All of these are areas that could be cleaned up in order to save money and ensure that resources are used to fund critical projects.

The world of IT is in a state of constant flux, buffeted by a changing business landscape and constant technological innovation. But by changing their expectations and investing in money-saving projects, firms can streamline their IT departments while meeting the demands of an evolving industry.

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