X is for… Xenophobia

To offshore or not to offshore: that is the question.

If you’ve worked any length of time in IT and/or worked for any of the larger companies, the subject of offshore will have undoubtedly come up. The bean-counters love the idea of offshore. Usually with the disheartening cry, “It’s so cheap. The rates are less than half that of our guys. We can’t lose.”

Well, let us tell you here, loud and clear, yes you can. Big time.

We at the A-Z are not Xenophobic, far from it, we like to think of ourselves more as stupophobic. We are firm believers that there is no golden arrow, no global, one-size-fits-all solution to any and every IT problem. Lots of things need to be considered on the path to successfully delivering IT soluions.

Whether it’s India, Malaysia, Russia, Israel or any of many other locations where extremely unit-cost resource are waiting to do your bidding, the deal is the same: use them only if it’s the right thing to do, and do it under the proper conditions.

You wouldn’t recruit a someone off the street who showed you an impressive CV and let him loose on your most complicated, business critical code, in the same way you wouldn’t hand your car keys to the first person you met at the shops.

So treat it the same way you would any other recruitment-for-purpose task. Define the roles, review the CVs, interview the best candidates; test them if appropriate, locally if necessary. Only when you are sure you have people capable of doing what you need them to do should you consider taking them on.

Like you would with any newbie, define clearly what you want them to do and monitor their progress closely. If they are delivering successfully, give them a bit more responsibility. You should be able to reasonably quickly gauge the calibre of your new recruits. If they’re no good, then get rid and replace.

Don’t underestimate the management overhead of having a separate offshore team. That’s your, or your team-lead’s, time we’re talking about so it’s important time.

In summary, don’t immediately discount the idea of offshoring, but if you are going to do it, do it right, under the right conditions and with the right expectations set beforehand.

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