How to think like an outsourcer and save jobs

Save MoneyOffshoring isn’t a welcome topic among IT departments. Many jobs have already moved overseas and many IT professionals know that poor company performance increases the chances of offshoring their own jobs. According to a CIO.com article entitled, “Why IT jobs are never coming back,” the future doesn’t look any better for IT workers in the US.

I don’t want to focus on doom and gloom, I want to tell you how thinking like an outsourcer can save jobs.

First, let’s look at this from a different perspective–an offshore outsourcing company’s perspective. They’re at a disadvantage, and they know it. They’re thousands of miles away from their potential customers. English is not their first language. They must overcome huge time and cultural differences. They don’t know your business. They compete with many other companies offering the same services.

How do they survive with all of these disadvantages? They survive because they understand two key business principles:

1. Business leaders care most about improving the bottom line.  So, outsourcers play to their strengths and offer cheap IT services with a faster turnaround time.  Obviously, price is their biggest advantage.

2. Maximizing employee productivity = Increased revenue.   Employee efficiency is of the utmost importance to an outsourcer, so they give their employees productivity tools. For example, it’s no secret that outsourcers specializing in application development use application development tools. These tools help them do their jobs better and faster.  More importantly, it means that they can accomplish more with less resources.

How does this help you? I know…you can’t compete with cheap labor.  But, you can compete in other ways. Here are two questions to ask yourself:

1. How do you improve the bottom line? Obviously, you can’t compete with outsourcers on price, but as an in-house IT professional, you have a huge advantage: You understand technology and the business. You are in the perfect position to recommend ways that technology could improve the bottom line.  Outsourcers can’t do that–they don’t know your business.

2. If you’re an IT worker, are you using productivity tools? If you’re a manager, are there any tools your employees could use to increase productivity?  The offshore outsourcing companies use them…why not level the playing field?  If you need some ideas, here’s a nice list of productivity tools.  Here’s another, slightly dated list aimed at developers and power users.  If you need business applications (for the web or smartphones) but don’t think you have the necessary time or development skills, check out m-Power.  It lets you develop whatever you need using your current staff and resources, and helps you keep development in-house.

In conclusion, remember these two points: First, actively seek out ways that technology can help your company.  An IT worker that helps the bottom line is a very important asset.  Second, you have access to the same productivity tools – and more – that the offshore outsourcers have access to.  Use them!

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2 thoughts on “How to think like an outsourcer and save jobs

  1. What you forgot to mention is that for their cheap labor they get (in our experience) severely lower productivity and slipshod work. Because the Indians don’t understand our business nor English well, we have to write detailed specs that describe to the n-th degree every change that needs to be made. By the time you do all that, you could do the work in-house faster and probably cheaper – and you’d get code that works. But all management sees is that the Indians work for a fraction of Americans hourly rate. In this case you get what you pay for!

  2. That’s an excellent point Lynne. I’ve noticed that problem too–Some people focus on price alone and completely miss the wasted time and lost productivity that result from their “money saving” decisions. Just goes to show that there’s a whole lot more to outsourcing than cost alone.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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