Plenty of companies around the world are still rushing headlong into outsourced IT agreements. You know the kind of thing - instead of having in-house IT people, you pay a third party to handle your technical matters for you.

But what, exactly, do you gain from this?

I can see two potential upsides. First, you reduce your fixed costs by not paying salaries - something that the beancounters approve of. Second, the staff available can be matched more easily to your requirements - so when you have a big roll-out, for instance, the service provider can supply more people to cope with the increase in demand.

In my experience, though, outsourcing simply brings tardiness and irritation. Sluggish response, first-line helpdesks that know the square root of bugger all. Server "specialists" who don't bother listening to you (and who prefer to set things up "their way") and thus don't install the options you asked for. Vast wads of procedures to follow that ensure that the correct approval process is followed and nobody gets access to things they're not allowed to see (and, of course, that someone who is entitled to something doesn't get it for weeks while the process is followed at the speed of a goldfish swimming through treacle). Repeat issues that don't get spotted because to the helpdesk they're just a set of apparently unrelated trouble tickets on a browser window.

The way I see it, then, outsourcing your IT function simply slows your business down and obfuscates issues, and although there may be a tangible reduction in the amount of money spent directly on IT, there is a much larger increase in the overall cost of running the business, thanks to lost time and lost flexibility.

This is, of course, just my experience. So is there anyone out there who can say to me: "Dave, you've just been unlucky - our outsourced IT service saves us money whilst giving us vastly improved fix times and a hugely better user experience"?