(Originally written for SRI Infotech. Republished with permission.)
The outsourcing of technology and development projects has taken on increasing prominence in the business world. Why? No longer confined to manufacturing and blue collar work, with offshoring, businesses are able to build larger, more highly qualified IT departments for the same cost as smaller, less robust teams domestically.
According to Raj Ponnuraj, Founder and CEO of SRI Infotech, offshore development projects allow for the “full manifestation of the internet in action.” Prior to the internet, lack of high speed, efficient and international communications, infrastructure and information sharing required onshore technology development personnel. Development work needed to be done locally to ensure success.
Today, Raj believes that “people who are good technically do well in their careers no matter where they are located.”
In offshoring situations, companies have access to the best talent… regardless of location… because employees don’t have to leave their hometowns to achieve project objectives. “They can work right where they are.”
The offshoring model allows companies in high‐cost countries – like the United States or Great Britain – to capitalize on lower cost employees from around the globe, including Poland or Moldova. Because quality is accounted for through experience and educational hiring requirements, technology departments can build more robust teams: in lieu of the 20 or 30 people budgeted for domestically, an offshore team can hire 50 or 60 people with superior education, experience and problem solving skills.
Nevertheless, in order to maximize return on investment by going offshore, companies need to acknowledge – and address – certain challenges. From time zone differences to language barriers to work environment expectations, successful offshore projects don’t run themselves.
How do you ensure that your offshore project brings the expected results, including desired cost savings? By following these 5 steps:
Planning, planning, planning Before any member of an offshore team is selected, it is critical to define the mission, vision, goals, objectives and deliverables. By defining these elements ahead of time, you can select the strongest team capable of achieving them.
Trust and verify In order to get the best out of your offshore experience, you need to treat employees as team members. It is therefore critical to know – unconditionally – that you can trust them with the responsibilities assigned to them. Take the time to verify their references, experience and expertise. Doing so not only ensures you have the right resources for the project as defined, but further enhances collaboration and communications.
Keep in touch Often, negative outcomes result from losing touch with offshore teams. Out of sight frequently becomes out of mind. However, contrary to popular practice, success requires more paths to open and honest communications. Make sure to schedule at least one meeting per week with offshore team leads and managers, notwithstanding time zone differences. Critically, also encourage frequent, informal communications through email, Skype and other peer to peer systems. Staying in touch ensures that expectations are being met and, just as importantly, provides an opportunity to clear barriers to success.
What’s in dev? Speaking of communications, one of the most common misunderstandings between domestic and offshore teams concerns the deployment environment. Information engineers need to understand what idiosyncrasies exist in production. They may have been implemented during prior development projects or to comply with existing regulatory or for numerous other reasons. However, those hidden assumptions can impact coding strategy. Variables that are understood domestically maybe be missing for overseas teams. By clearly defining the environment during project kickoff, all team members will understand delivery parameters.
Define your SLAs You may have heard the adage, “good fences make good neighbors.” That’s because fences define boundaries. Everyone knows where everyone else stands. The same can be said for service level agreements. SLAs allow managers to monitor project quality, time and cost. Adjustments can be made when projects fall behind or quality lags. Likewise, benchmarking afforded by clear SLAS allows for the reallocation of resources if it looks like projects will complete ahead of schedule. By defining performance parameters, all parties to a project know what success – or failure – looks like. This helps the team drive towards a common goal.
By following these steps, your organization is best able to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by using offshore information technology, application development and support. Contact us today to let us explore how offshoring can work towards improving your bottom line.