Monday, August 07, 2006


I'm in IT.

For years now, my company has been laying off workers and building up its outsourcing ranks.

Why? Because its the 'in' thing. And because you can immediately reap the short term benefits of a smaller domestic staff while waiting for long term cost savings that may or may not materialize.

I'm not 'pro' outsourcing or 'anti' outsourcing. I want my company to do what it needs to do in order to be profitable and continue my employment.

It's easy to find people domestically and abroad who are willing to answer a phone using passable English and strictly follow a script that will supposedly cure 99.9% of what ails the typical consumer.

Finding qualified, dependable employees for skilled labor is much more difficult when you outsource.

My company has used several Indian outsourcing companies over the years. What we've discovered is that finding people qualified to help from day one is almost impossible for our needs. Instead, we find we have to train them as we are not a mainstream programming shop.

Then, after 6 months or so, they have the skills to operate as a greenhorn programmer. Problem is, now they are more valuable to all sorts of employers. Our outsourcing contract is with the company and not the employee. So, the employee gets a nifty offer and jumps ship leaving both companies high and dry.

In other situations, we find that the outsourcer has better incentives or a critical project with another company and our outsourced people are pulled from our tasks.

There's also the time difference to deal with. When outsourced to an Asian company, the time difference can be a major hindrance in time critical projects. They are emailing you while you sleep, you return their messages while they sleep, making for very inefficient consultations and decision making.

My company is now so lean that if someone goes down, say in a car accident or with a serious illness, projects get delayed and tasks start seriously backing up.

Outsourcing can definitely help a company, but stakeholders should not treat it as a cure for inefficient processes, an alternate for skilled labor or a guaranteed long term return.