IN AN EFFORT to reduce costs and improve use of technology, many banks are turning to outsourcing - contracting with an external firm to assist with daily data processing activities. While outsourcing can be of substantial benefit and convenience to a bank, it does not relieve a financial institution of its innate responsibility to manage its information technology.

Successful outsourcing involves a partnership between the bank and the contractor organization. The arrangement should meet the long-term information needs of the bank, but not at the expense of letting the outsourcer dictate the bank's technological direction.

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