By By Shasimana Uugulu
November 2010
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SALT Essential Information Technology, Business Development Manager, Vanessa Maresch, believes Namibian companies should seriously consider outsourcing IT departments to cut costs and focus more on growth.

Established in 1998, Salt Essential IT is one of the most technologically advanced IT outsourcing companies in Namibia and offers tailor made services such as managed hosting, domain name and website management, server management, back-up management, antivirus management, disaster recovery management, hosted database systems management and business systems, among others.

Maresch says running and maintaining an IT department is an expensive venture particularly for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) since buying equipment and hiring skilled staff contributes to high operational costs.

Currently the company supports more than 70 Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with local companies as well as government ministries for the provision of IT services on a partial or complete basis.

She maintains that by outsourcing an IT department to Salt Essential a company can cut costs, gain maximum possible performance out of an IT platform and increase profits.

“To make everything even better, IT infrastructure outsourcing is usually very flexible. Services offered will vary based on your company budget and needs. Flexibility also comes in the form of changes in latest technologies to the customers’ advantage and up scaling and downscaling as businesses fluctuate with more or less IT requirements,” says Maresch.

Outsourcing relieves in-house IT staff from menial repair tasks and it consequently frees up time for this resource to focus on adding value to business systems. Business systems are traditionally neglected because so much time is spent on fighting IT platform fires. In addition outsourcing enables greater operational control, better reporting, a higher rate of on-time and on-budget project delivery, she adds.

Namibia, according to Maresch, has a shortage of IT skills. Recruiting highly trained personnel is difficult and costly. Companies, she argues, reap huge benefits, enjoy faster and more reliable deployment of IT solutions if they outsource IT services.

“IT outsourcing can be a great solution not only for small to medium sized businesses out there, even the largest Namibian entities should consider it. On an international scale all Namibian companies are small to medium and the Salt model can cope with this.

Maresch says that the customers’ maxim should be: “We are good at what we do, we do not need to become a specialist in IT services as well; leave this to the IT experts who are constantly in touch with what is happening in the dynamic world of IT.”

Some of the reasons why companies should outsource their IT services include; the need to focus all efforts on growth; lack of time or expertise to manage an IT department; merger or acquisition by business drivers who require a more flexible IT resource solution and of course, the shortage of skilled local people.

“Nowadays you can basically outsource everything related to IT platform, from the ownership of essential hardware to storing your data in a safe environment. Outsourcing of IT business systems is another matter and Salt rather encourages in-house development of skills in this important aspect of adding value to the business process.”

Some of the companies that are using Salt Essential IT services include NamPower, NIP, Manica Group, Leo, Desert Souls, Ministry of Health and Social Services as well as the Ministry of Defence among others.

Maresch describes her company that has an employee compliment of 26 as one of Namibia’s most skilled IT teams.

“Engineers join Salt because they know that the company offers challenges in state of the art systems, which very few others in Namibia are able to do. This enthusiasm translates directly to our customers. We regularly make sure that our team is abreast with all new IT developments in the industry so that we maintain a competitive edge within the market,” she says.

Salt Essential was among some of the local IT companies that participated in the recently held Telecom Namibia IT conference that ran under the theme, ‘The contribution of ICT to sustainable economic growth and knowledge-based societies’.

Such conferences, explains Maresch, are necessary because they bring together IT market leaders to share and exhibit latest technologies as well as make contacts with possible clients in a world where the smallest failure can lead to huge problems in the future as it will damage your company credentials.

“Systems operating from our data centre are guaranteed to be up 24/7, and all critical data is compressed, optionally encrypted and then uploaded to a Remote Server/ storage area at our Data Centre via a secure connection that guarantees security.”

She however has issues with the tender board regulations which she says do not give preferences to local companies thus subjecting them to unfair competition from bigger South African IT companies.

“There is a need to revise our tender regulations, to give preference to local companies. We do not transfer our money to foreign countries but reinvest our profits back in the country.”

Giving preference to home grown Namibian companies encourages local industrial growth. Salt is capable of becoming a potent industry leader with some of the best infrastructure and human resource to be found in the land,” thus Maresch.

Just like salt being an important substance for the survival most living creatures, in the post-modern context, businesses cannot grow sustainably without a stable, dependable, flexible and superbly connected ICT infrastructure.

“It’s in this complex environment of planning, developing, integrating, migrating and operating organisational IT infrastructure for anyone where our expertise lies, hence the name Salt Essential” she concludes. PF