Finicky about outsourcing development?

3 May 2011 by Jinesh Parekh No comments

The thought of outsourcing work often brings along a feeling of numbness. The reason for this is that the adaptive unconscious mind, capable of analyzing data very speedily and without the conscious mind knowing about it, comes in action and quickly runs through a series of questions like below:

  • Would the quality of service be as good as promised during the sales and marketing cycle?
  • Would the remote team work as passionately as we do onsite with out team?
  • Would the engagement sustain long enough or would we be dumped in face of another better opportunity for the remote team?
  • Would our IP and data be protected and guarded with life as we do it here?
  • Would there be enough transparency?
  • Would the cultures match?
  • and many more…

All of these questions are valid and the answer to it is completely dependent on the remote team you choose for your work. You cannot risk the decision based on your conversations with the sales representative. Once engaged, you will be working with a completely different set of people and the sales representative or the account manager, as they like to be called, are only going to drop you a few emails and phone calls, checking to ensure things are going on well. If you analyze those calls well, the call is made to find out if there is more business opportunity that they can talk about with you.

However the benefits of outsourcing cannot not be ignored either to stay competitive. Though cost effectiveness is one of the big benefits, it should not be the sole driving factor for your off shoring initiatives. Ideally you should be interested in doubling your work day productivity which will help you achieve your milestones faster.

So how do you go about identifying the right remote team? There are no definite steps to it that I know of. However the way we did this earlier was to outsource something non-essential or something that is in your “Someday” list as rightly put up by David Allen in his book “Getting things done“. If you do not have anything in your Someday list, think harder and you will be able to identify a few things. For example, adding a blogging capability to your site would not hurt much while would also add a small value.

Start with sending out small work to a couple of teams you enjoyed speaking with and whom you have a good hunch for. Engage on a flat monthly fee as compared to pay by the hour. It works better as it eliminates the time-sheet micro management which is a questioning activity all together and is unhealthy to build a trust based relationship. Also it allows the remote team to put in more hours when required without having get onto a call with you for discussing the extra hours. This kind of engagement also helps in the time line estimations as the team then can use smaller buffers as there is no monetary risks or incentives associated with it.

Once you start working with them, rate the team on below

  • Communication – How good are they in understanding the problem statement and the goal of the deliverable.
  • Dedicated team – Are you working with the same team members always or does it change too often.
  • Quality of questions – Are they asking smart questions? Are they asking the right questions?
  • Candid “I do not know” – Are they honest in accepting things they do not know or have not done earlier? Or are they eager to get the new project you are talking about which is different from what they are currently working on.
  • Ethical Litmus test – Put them E-Litmus test when you can to find out the reaction. No reaction is bad, but you want to simply know your team better.
  • Product mentality– It is important that the team members have a product mentality and not service mind set. Are they making suggestions on new features that could be added? Are they validating the features you are asking them to build?
  • Productivity auto pilot – Is the team productive while you are not able to work with them for a period of time or are distracted by something else more important or do you have to be on top of them to ensure productivity. Of course the former is what you are looking for.
  • Speed – Are they able to increase your work day productivity by at least 1.5 times.

Doing this exercise will give you a fair idea of the team and also make you more comfortable sending some work outside of your office premises. Hope this article helps and would love to hear your feedback on anything I missed.

Jinesh Parekh

Founder CEO, Idyllic.

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