Stereotypes (and not only those about outsourcing) are based on conventional, formulaic, oversimplified preconceptions rather than facts. For instance, a common modern stereotype is that all millennials are scared of talking on the phone.
This stereotype is rooted in the millennials’ well-known attachment to messaging on their smart devices and their assumed incompetence of dealing with non-functional, emotional conversations when caught over the phone. Of course, millennials call their moms (at least)—the fact that hasn’t made it to the headlines yet. The same stereotype mechanism holds true with outsourcing.
Let’s debunk some of the most outrageous myths with the help of software development experts from Itransition.
Stereotype 1. IT outsourcing is cheap
This stereotype was formed when the costs of an IT outsourcing project were compared to the costs of an in-house project, without accounting for all the factors that go into hiring an outsourcing team. However, often the hourly rate for an outsourced worker is comparable to the hourly rate of the in-house specialist (which includes spending on their hire, retention, development, overheads, etc.)
Second, working with an external contractor always requires establishing the processes, introducing internal regulations, and documenting them for both the offshore team and the client to follow. Every change involves a repetition of the development cycle at least in some part, which adds to costs. These are all additional expenditures for the client to consider from the beginning.
Outsourcing can be about cost reduction, but it’s not actually cheap. It can be cheaper as it helps to save on office costs or insurance, but it is expensive in terms of building new working schemes and sustaining risks and failures.
However, outsourcing can be more cost-effective when it comes to long-term goals. If you need to hire an extra designer, for instance, it will be easier to incorporate a qualified outsourced specialist into the team rather than hiring an in-house designer and training them from the ground up, which will take time and cost you more.
Stereotype 2. You can hand the project over to the offshore team and go on vacation to Jamaica
As offshore teams don’t sit next door, project owners may be tempted to abandon them for a while and hope the project will be finished all by itself.
In reality, each outsourcing project calls for constant attention and communication. The project owner and the outsourcing team are in the same boat. The outsourcing team analyzes and estimates the project that is then approved and overseen by the project owner. Problems should be solved together. Risks should be mitigated by both parties. Joint responsibility is the only way to succeed.
If the project owner stays out of the process, the end product may be far from the initial envisioning. The project owner’s absence can demotivate the team and throw them off the course pretty fast. The project owner has to participate in the analysis and decision-making and provide healthy criticism.
The project requirements will drive the choice of a particular platform or methodology, and it’s the mutual responsibility to prevent them from being too general or too flexible. The more detailed and outlined they are, the closer to the project owner’s vision the end product will be.
Stereotype 3. IT outsourcing will solve all the client’s problems
Some believe that by hiring an offshore team consisting of various kinds of specialists, the client can tick off all the boxes. Often, though, the offshore team can’t get what those boxes are because the client thinks that the goals will be achieved somehow automatically.
Again, the truth is that every outsourcing project is a collaboration of equal partners, with both parties benefiting in the process. The relationship between the client and their outsourcing team should be mutually fulfilling and open. Goals should be communicated clearly, and a plan with each goal’s deadline should be put in place. The choice of a collaboration type should depend on the nature of the goals. As the market changes all the time, financial aspects as well as the means of achieving the project goals have to be revised continuously.
Stereotype 4. Outsourcing means full loss of management control
When a company delegates a project or its functional part to an offshore team, it’s usually assumed that the company loses control over the project up to its delivery. It can be the case, of course, if the parties haven’t had a contract in place where all the requirements on the project communication and IP ownership were stipulated in advance. Then the outsourcing team could have the right to make decisions fully on their own without discussing them with the client first.
It’s true you will have to give up some control as you can’t oversee each step taken by your outsourcing team. It’s part of the deal—you get access to the exceptional technical skills in exchange for a certain degree of flexibility and independence. However, if the team violates some stipulations outlined in the contract, you will have a legal and moral base to complain and ask for modifications or compensations.
Stereotype 5. Communication issues will harm the project outcome
There’s a preconception that when a company outsources to a team from another country, they won’t fully understand each other due to language barriers, have mild-to-strong misunderstandings due to cultural differences, and feel uncomfortable because of the time difference.
While it might be the case, it can’t be applied to all the projects, particularly those where both teams agree on major issues in advance. When you consider to outsource a big project, make sure to meet the entire team in person, not only a project lead. In case your own team works alongside contractors, make sure to set up a meeting between them as well.
Discuss how you are going to adapt to time difference, if any. Fix hours of availability of key members and discuss how to reach them in case of emergencies.
Establish communication standards where the teams have little chance to be shy or lazy to get to the bottom of issues. Run online standup meetings, regular personal meetups, and ad-hoc live discussions when there’s a need to brainstorm.
IT outsourcing certainly has its pros and cons that you should carefully consider prior to employing an offshore team. However, don’t let yourself be misguided by outsourcing stereotypes. They do have a foundation, but mostly they have been brought about by a lazy or slack approach. Probably, you will have to go the extra mile to fine-tune the product of your outsourcing team’s work, but at the same time, this is your opportunity to dive into a largest talent pool and benefit from the wildest opportunities for innovation and transformation.