A Common Practice In Today’s IT Industry
The idea of passing company’s tasks to separate contractors is not really new, as this solution was widely used by businesses for ages, literally. What is actually specific about outsourcing (which recently became so popular in the IT industry) is that companies get their core products manufactured by teams located in other countries. Such ‘international’ schemas are possible thanks to peculiarities of software development business. With the help of Internet and some basic collaboration tools, software products can be designed, tested and shipped without regarding any geographic constraints.
Outsourcing was trendy for more than a decade already. This year did not break this tendency. As Gartner predicts, the world IT outsourcing market will experience slow but steady growth this year. According to the research, most of the industry segments are likely to be involved into this process. Well, nothing really surprising in those predictions. Software development continues to gain importance within the global economy despite (or maybe even thanks to) all recent outbreaks of financial crisis.
Virtualization and cloud migration trends are not significantly diminishing the role of outsourcing. On the other hand they are even supporting the popularity of the idea of passing low-level IT tasks outside of main company. Nowadays enterprises are outsourcing their datacenters to Iceland or even their whole IT departments’ jobs to some remote locations. In a big way it is not a question why to employ remote teams; the real question is how to find a helpful remote team and get your bonuses.
What Could Be Really Disturbing
There are always some weak places. Typically, a manager investigating the possibilities of hiring a remote team is worried about productivity losses and limited supervising. Of course this is true – certain risks have to be taken when you follow this path. You cannot fully supervise workers which reside miles away from your office. And productivity can slide down much in case you would fail to get good communication between your IT department and the outsourcing team.
Different approaches exist to the problem of supervision, some try to minimize it, some attempt to control as much as possible. It is doubtless that some amount of it is necessary. And here some difficulties arise when you have to control a remote team. Numerous online real-time tools are available for that purpose. But a workflow model which includes total control over employees will hardly be compatible with the concept of outsourcing. And if you cannot trust an employee, you must not get him or her handle any important tasks.
The problem of good collaboration is an eternal headache for managers which have to get together several teams/departments and turn them into a single well-performing mechanism. It is especially important to communicate efficiently when a part of a big team resides in a remote location. Outsources may do their job quite well but when it takes days to get some feedback (no matter which side is slow to respond), the collaboration might be ruined.
Minimizing Risks And Enjoying Your New Business Model
Despite the risks described above, companies from Western Europe, North America and ANZ region tend to outsource increasingly more projects. The commonly expected benefits are well-known: lower workers’ rates, less staff expenditures, and in some cases – less time spent on lower-level jobs. In order to get those benefits a company should adopt best practices of choosing and employing a remote team. Here are some of the basic methods to ensure the profitability from outsourcing:
- Good collaboration environment;
- Geography and language consideration;
- Deliberate background checking.
Ensuring appropriate collaboration level is not only about technology; lots of teambuilding work is needed to get remote and in-office teams closer. Lack of positive co-location effect is widely acknowledged to be one of the biggest problems of outsourcing. So a manager should use all available techniques to inspire strong horizontal communication.
Geography is therefore a highly important factor when choosing an appropriate contractor. The difference in local prices is a key reason of outsourcing and it usually correlates with distance between two locations. On the other hand the 12 hour gap is not always acceptable. The language problem also should not be underestimated. Low pricing proposal doesn’t always come together with an acceptable level of services.
To ensure this level is high enough, one needs to get as many details as possible about prospective remote contractors. It is actually a routine thing before hiring a new employee; but in case of a remote team even more precautions are needed. Co-located worker’s performance can be evaluated quite soon, while a remote team typically needs more time to show its strong and weak sides.
Intercomputer GS has more than 13 years of experience in the area of remote teams creating and management. More about this service of ours you can read here.