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Strategic Outsourcing Helps Put the Fun in the IT Function

Keeping the work environment fun for your IT staff doesn't have to mean pizza parties. For many IT staffers, making things fun is all about creating great projects to work on.

That's the philosophy of Tom Fluker, vice president of information systems at Cornell Companies Inc., a $291-million provider of correctional services in Houston. To lighten the atmosphere, Fluker ensures that his 34-member staff isn't saddled with maintaining back-office applications.

To free up his staff from routine tasks, Fluker outsourced some activities, including HR and financial applications. "Maintaining legacy stuff does not make for a good time," he says. "The reality is the support of those systems has been the same in the past 10 years."

This strategic outsourcing allows his team to implement cool stuff, such as applications for Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology Cornell began rolling out three years ago. Fluker says Cornell is ready to uniformly upgrade to its call-processing software. Once done, the IT team will begin rolling out IP-based applications. "People ask me, 'How do you keep IS motivated?' and I tell them, 'Make it fun.' That's what you're doing when you give them challenges," he says.


Stefanie McCann was formerly editor at large at CIO Decisions magazine. To comment on this story, email

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