How to use outsourcing to boost your IT career in 2010

IT professionals savvy in sourcing and vendor management skills could impress employers when they save company cash and resources by selectively sending work to external staff.

IT professionals that know how to best source work could make points with hiring managers in 2010.

Interest in cloud computing, managed services and SaaS reached new heights during the downturn in 2009, and industry watchers suggest the various sourcing options will also drive high-tech hiring decisions into 2010 as IT departments need to consider all technology delivery vehicles on the road to economic recovery

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5 can't-miss vendor negotiation tips

Outsourcing can often be perceived in a negative light because it is an alternative to internal staff, but in 2010 IT talent industry watchers say that high-tech workers able to identify areas that can be outsourced and save their companies cash will be in demand. Vendor negotiation and management skills will also be rewarded, experts say, as companies looking to rebuild toward an economic recovery seek the most affordable contracts.

"Outsourcing is going to continue to be a trend, and the skill sets to manage vendor relationships and contract performance will be highly valued," says Lily Mok, vice president of Gartner's CIO Research. "Companies will want to consolidate vendors, find better deals with existing vendors, really understand their contracts in terms of costs and performance, and renegotiate contracts to find better options."

IT candidates with expertise in areas such as software license management, contract negotiations and managing consultants or distributed teams could help a company determine which managed service offering could be a good fit or if cloud computing is a reasonable choice for a midsize or smaller company, says David Foote, co-founder, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners.

"Research shows that about half of all enterprises have purchased some managed services. There has been a lot of interest around in-house skills and managed IT services," Foote says. "There is a lot less hiring in some areas that clearly managed services can pick up the slack in, such as VoIP, especially for SMB segments."

Not only will IT employees be expected to understand all available outsourcing options, but they must also realize they could be working more closely with IT teams in India or other countries if their company contracts work with an offshore provider. During interviews, potential candidates would be wise to cite any experience with offshore teams and promote the positive differentiator they could add from such previous dealings, according to IT talent experts.

"The globalization of the IT workforce will continue, and the combination of insourcing and outsourcing will also obviously continue," says Jeff Schwartz, a principal with Deloitte Consulting's Human Capital practice. "Anything IT professionals can do to highlight their experience working with high-tech workers in multiple countries and distributed workers will resonate with IT hiring managers."

With a mix of in-house and external workforce, IT staffers will need to differentiate themselves with more than technical knowledge. According to IT talent recruiters, the valued internal employee would be able to make decisions about technology core to the company's line of business. And more generic technical duties will be sent off-premises via a SaaS service desk, for instance.

"Everything we are hearing going forward is about business-facing roles with technology expertise. As technologies continue to advance, you will see the size of IT departments get smaller and people in house will be working simultaneously on multi-layer projects that require knowledge of the core business and might require managing offshore teams, contractors or other outsourcers," says Matt Colaursso, manager of Sapphire's National Recruiting Team. "Those are the high-tech jobs that won't and can't be outsourced."

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