Outsourcing and Software Security: You Can Have Both

With outsourcing becoming a major way of doing business in recent years, more and more companies are concerned with security issues surrounding outsourcing.

Increased online technology has opened a door for information to be gathered, stored and passed around so easily that companies who outsource must continually stay on top of things in the area of security.

Overcoming Your Security Risks When Outsourcing

Below is a brief explanation of the potential security risks and how companies can overcome the risks to create a profitable outsourcing plan.

Which Security Issues Do Companies Face when Outsourcing?

The security issues will vary from one company to the next. A company who passes along generic information that is not directly related to the identity of its clients or confidential company information may not have to worry about "identity" theft issues, or someone selling their information to others. However, the issue that this type of company may need to worry about is software hacking or copyright infringements of the company's methods and/or software applications.

For example, if your company has developed and patented a software application that is unique to your business, and gives you a sharp edge over your competitors, then giving privileged access to this software through outsourcing could put your company at risk. Keep in mind that you're always at risk, even when not outsourcing. Sometimes a most trusted employee could be the one copying code and creating a duplicate program behind closed doors.

Read about outsourced IT for small business owners

Outsourcing can be risky for two main reasons:

1. You don't have one-on-one contact (face to face) with the person who's doing the work. Therefore, you really don't know this person or their character until you've worked with them a while.

2. Outsourcing to a foreign land also means you're at the mercy of their laws and culture. If you do find that the person working with you is a software pirate, then it will be difficult to prosecute. It could cost you more than it's worth to pursue conviction of the crime.

Read about managing outsourced IT functions

Simple Security Solutions

The security factors are not to be ignored, but there are simple ways to help you ensure security while outsourcing.

Below are some steps you can take to outsource with peace of mind:

1. Follow Your Instincts

The number one rule to remember when outsourcing is to follow your own business instincts. Just as you would when hiring someone face to face, follow your "gut feeling" when choosing an outsourcing company or individual to perform your work.

If you have reserves about a person or company, don't work with them. If there seems to be something strange or illegal about the way they handle business, leave them alone. It's better to be safe than sorry.

2. Join Forums about Outsourcing

Forums are a great way to learn about potential outsourcing companies or opportunities. Through forums, you can learn from other business owners about their experiences while outsourcing, who they trust, who they do not trust, etc. This is a great way to brainstorm with literally hundreds or thousands of others who have gone before you in the world of outsourcing. Keep in mind that not everyone will be in favor of outsourcing, so don't get discouraged too quickly because of one or two bad experiences. Keep an open mind to all opinions and experiences to get the most out of a forum.

3. Find a Reliable and Professional Outsourcing Company

Whether through discussions in the forum or a personal fellow business owner and friend, try to locate a reliable, professional outsourcing company to work with if possible. There are different types of companies who will aid you in your outsourcing endeavors such as freelance bidding companies, where you list a project and potential laborers will bid on the work by price and skill. There are also outsource companies who can work with you on a much higher level by actually employing the outsource workers for you based on a commission. These companies work similar to temp-to-hire agencies.

Creating a relationship with a professional outsourcing company, no matter what type of service they provide, can be very beneficial, and certainly more secure. After all, they know the business much better than you, and normally have access to both sides of the fence in the industry!

4. Secure Your Own Company and Data

Before outsourcing your work, make sure your own data, software, etc. is secure. If necessary, hire a computer software developer to check your software thoroughly for "holes" where a hacker could enter, and also for potential flaws in the system. This is very important even if you work with an outsourcing company you trust.

5. Provide Test Runs with Outsourcing

Even though this may cost a little up front, provide simple (less risky) test work in your first outsourced jobs to try out the company or individual. In other words, don't give the person or company access to important data or files until you've tested and proved their integrity. Just as when hiring a person in the office, you would put them through a trial period before adding more responsibilities. You can offer trial jobs through outsourcing. It might save you money and time in the long run.

Use these tips for a more secure outsourcing experience. Outsourcing can be a wonderful, profitable addition to your business.

Written by Candice Pardue

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