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Choosing the right IT outsourcing partner for the manufacturing industry

IT outsourcing can enable businesses in manufacturing to modernize their software and IT infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of an in-house team.
IT support services experts discuss data management and security controls in a factory.
Article author
Written by
Felicjan Rybka
Published on
April 30, 2024
Last updated on
June 21, 2024

Manufacturers are rarely at the forefront of digital transformation. With their cutting-edge technologies and tools, big tech, logistics, telecoms, and top investment banks get all the spotlight. But without manufacturing operations, we wouldn’t have our smartphones, laptops, clothes, earbuds, or any other equipment customers use every day.

Our world is built on production systems and manufacturing processes. However, IT is rarely at the core of the manufacturing business model.

Similarly to other industries, IT outsourcing in the manufacturing sector enables companies to leverage external expertise, refine their talent acquisition strategies, access advanced technologies, reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and streamline business operations.

IT outsourcing solutions for manufacturing businesses

This explains the growing popularity of IT outsourcing solutions for manufacturing. External vendors can successfully provide managed IT services to a manufacturing business to increase its competitive edge and improve efficiency. In manufacturing, IT solutions outsourcing includes software development, cloud and mainframe infrastructure management, IT support, quality assurance, and automation.

A trusted information technology solutions provider can have a tremendous impact on operational efficiency, business processes, and daily operations in a factory. The right IT outsourcing partner will also reduce costs and help ensure product quality, while a poor vendor choice can lead to costly disruptions and security risks.

Read further to learn how to select a managed IT solutions provider that will bring benefits to your organization.

Manufacturing companies’ IT needs

The manufacturing landscape in 2024 is driven by efficiency, agility, and resilience. Achieving these goals without robust IT infrastructure is nearly impossible.

Software specific to the manufacturing sector

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERPs), Manufacturing Execution Software (MES), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems are common IT solutions used by manufacturers worldwide. Still, every manufacturing company has its own unique requirements, and out-of-the-box tools won’t work well for everyone.

Integration and modernization challenges

Every manufacturer will face challenges related to information technology. Many will find integration projects to be the most troublesome. Making new technologies work with outdated systems is filled with risks and unexpected problems to solve.

Data management and security

As more enterprises in the industry begin to understand the power of big data and data analytics, they also start to realize the challenges connected to protecting customers’ data and translating the raw data they have into something useful for predictive analytics.

Manufacturers also worry about data security and proper access control. Protecting sensitive data and production processes requires robust security and information risk management policies. The number of ransomware attacks is increasing every year, and a successful one threatens not only data but also the manufacturing process. Moreover, legacy software is more exposed to cyberattacks.

Optimizing the cost of IT operations

Since IT solutions are needed across all industries, first-rate software engineers and IT experts are hard to recruit. Moreover, hiring such employees is a significant cost. Fortunately, manufacturers don’t have to set up costly IT departments and build their systems in-house. For many manufacturing companies, outsourcing is a viable way to access IT specialists fast and at a lower cost.

Key factors to consider when choosing IT outsourcing solutions for the manufacturing industry

Selecting the right IT outsourcing vendor is crucial if you want to work with technology experts who can drive efficiency and streamline operations. There are thousands of IT companies that will promise you the world and never deliver satisfactory services.

To select an IT outsourcing vendor who will take good care of your business, consider all the factors listed below.

1. Experience in manufacturing (IT support with industry expertise)

Your production processes, no matter how simple or complex, require a solid understanding from your IT partner. Look for a vendor with a proven track record in the manufacturing sector. Read success stories from their previous clients. Ask if they have experience in your area of expertise.

Find IT experts who understand your challenges, whether it’s production line management optimization, compliance with industry regulations, introducing predictive maintenance or integrating custom automation with your legacy enterprise systems.

2. Technical skills and workforce capabilities

To find out if a vendor can do what they say, schedule a meeting with one of their tech solution experts to discuss your IT challenges. IT engineers with manufacturing experience will ask you relevant questions to learn more about your environment and use your answers to develop tailored solutions. That way, you will quickly evaluate any vendor’s capabilities and skills.

The vendor should tell you if they can offer the specific IT services you need to reach your goals. For example, Maxima Consulting offers a range of solutions for manufacturing firms, such as custom software development, custom automation, systems modernization, cloud migration and optimization, and ongoing technical support and maintenance for existing systems.

You must ensure your outsourcing partner excels in the critical areas of your business.

3. Delivery models

Different delivery models will be most advantageous depending on your business operations and manufacturing process. Some projects will require IT experts on-site, sometimes you will need to send some equipment to your vendor, and other projects can be carried out remotely. 

Maxima Consulting’s global delivery model offers access to a broad international talent pool. Particularly beneficial to manufacturers seeking specialized expertise or 24/7 support, it also has the potential to lower the overall project cost.

In the global delivery model, the IT team is split across various locations, meaning an IT architect can work with you on-site, and regular developers can support you from another location. With IT offshoring to India, you can get 24/7/365 tech support for a fraction of the costs of an in-house team.

Want to learn more about outsourcing delivery models? Read our article about onshore, nearshore, offshore, and hybrid outsourcing.

4. Compliance and security measures

Manufacturing data can be highly sensitive. Moreover, manufacturing companies often operate under strict regulations and must adhere to industry standards. Your vendor should know relevant standards to ensure compliance, safeguard data, and provide appropriate access control policies and disaster recovery measures.

Evaluate the vendor’s security protocols, including data encryption and incident response plans.

5. Scalability and flexibility

The needs of a manufacturing company can fluctuate. Choose an IT services vendor who can scale their resources up or down to meet your evolving requirements. Sometimes, you will need more people in your IT operations to get the job done faster. When everything settles, you might want to lower your IT services bills and only work with the core staff.

Your vendor should be flexible enough to adjust their services to accommodate your changing business needs.

6. Communication and collaboration

Clear and transparent communication is vital for a successful digital transformation. During the solutions selection process, evaluate each vendor’s communication style, collaboration tools, and project management methodologies. Be mindful of cultural and language differences when working with a geographically distant team.

Choose a vendor of IT services for manufacturing companies with experience working across different countries.

Financial considerations of IT outsourcing in the manufacturing industry

IT outsourcing can deliver significant cost savings and enhance the efficiency of manufacturing businesses. However, to maximize the return on investment, you should create a solid budget plan showing you all the costs and projected savings.

Define expected return on investment

Before talking with a vendor, identify internal IT costs you aim to optimize through outsourcing. Consider factors like personnel expenses, software licensing fees, and hardware maintenance.

With your current expenses, you can define clear ROI goals for outsourcing. Quantify expected cost savings, increase in productivity, or improved system uptime. Consider hidden costs, such as ramp-up time or additional project management resource allocation.

Consider various pricing models

Your costs will also depend on the pricing model. You can choose a time and materials (T&M) commitment, where costs are based on the time spent and resources used. In the case of fixed-price contracts, upfront costs are defined for a scope of work. Some IT solutions providers offer a hybrid model that combines those two. 

Regardless of the pricing model, service level agreements (SLAs) will clearly define performance metrics (e.g., uptime, response times) and penalties for non-compliance to protect you if the vendor doesn’t deliver.

With all this in place, you will ensure a successful, cost-optimized partnership with your chosen managed IT services provider.

Drive efficiency and optimize operations with Maxima Consulting

Selecting the right IT outsourcing partner for your manufacturing company is a critical business decision. By carefully considering the key factors outlined in this article, you can find a vendor with the industry expertise, skills, and commitment to security that the future of your business requires. 

Seek an IT solutions provider that prioritizes collaboration, efficiency, and future-proof solutions. By building a strong, long-term partnership, you will leverage IT outsourcing to optimize the productivity of your manufacturing operations, enable predictive maintenance, improve quality control and inventory tracking capabilities, and achieve success.

If you plan to upgrade your IT infrastructure and software systems or streamline processes with automation or artificial intelligence, send us a message and schedule a free consultation with our solution architect.

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