More and more companies are looking at offshore outsourcing as a way to cut costs or expand their software development capabilities. Job loss is becoming a concern for more of us every day.
There are ways to insure your personal success, even if offshore outsourcing is used on many projects at your company. Actually, offshore outsourcing presents an opportunity.
Taking advantage of that opportunity is what this article (and this website) is all about.
But first, a quick story:
|A young American programmer graduated from college a few years ago with a degree in Computer Science. He could not believe how great life was; getting paid for doing work he really enjoyed.
Everyone told him what a bright future he had, since “you know how to work with computers.” The internet was experiencing explosive growth, everyone was getting online and there was a severe shortage of software talent.After a few really awesome years, things suddenly got tough. The dot com bubble burst, there was excess computer talent on the market, the economy tanked after 9/11 and the industry buzz was all about “offshore outsourcing.” For the first time, competition for software and IT jobs was coming from offshore companies in India. Cost savings of offshore outsourcing was enticing lots of companies to take the plunge.
Our young programmer friend was asked by his manager to bring a software team from India up to speed on some of his company’s software projects. After a deep breath and gulp from the lump in his throat, he thought this wasn’t supposed to happen to me!
Have you found yourself in a similar position? How did you respond? How should you respond to offshore outsourcing?
Your response to the growing trend of offshore software development will make or break your career.
Some responses to offshore outsourcing that I’ve seen are listed below. They are ordered from least productive to most productive, IMHO. If you have another response not listed here, post a comment so we can discuss it.
Response 1: I’m going to work for a company that does not outsource software development to offshore companies.
This is a you-can-run-but-you-can’t-hide situation. With competition, more companies will be turning to offshore software development teams to lower their cost and improve their product or service.
Offshore outsourcing is a growing trend; over time you will be chasing fewer jobs and fewer companies that don’t use offshore resources.
Also, as this is written (fall 2004), it’s not the best time to be looking for a tech job.
Response 2: I’m going to sabotage this offshore software project so the jobs will come back to the US.
Oh yea, that’s going to do you a lot of good. Does the phrase “up to and including termination” ring a bell? If you’re into getting fired, go ahead, otherwise, you might want to read on for a better response.
Response 3: Sabotage won’t be necessary, I’m going to sit back and watch this outsourcing project fail all by itself.
Some companies do have challenges with offshore outsourcing, it is not a panacea.
Careful preparation and execution are required for success.
If you just wait for the project to fail, you end up missing an opportunity:
- Imagine your position if the project succeeds because of your actions. This could be very good for your career.
- Imagine your position if the offshore project succeeds without your help. Not the best place to be.
This response also leaves you at risk: your competition might make offshore software development projects work, putting your company at a competitive disadvantage, which is never good for the long term.
Response 4: I’m going to become a political activist and elect people that will outlaw offshore outsourcing.
Not really an option for those of us that truly believe in free markets. This is also a path to failure for the USA software and IT industry. Other countries will use offshore outsourcing to get a competitive advantage over us.
Response 5: I’m going to keep working the best I can and hope I don’t get replaced by an offshore developer.
OK, that’s better, but you should control your destiny or someone else will.
Response 6: I’m going to embrace offshore software development; there is an opportunity here somewhere!
Offshore outsourcing is here to stay. Why not proactively engage the mega changes that are just starting? This is what the future leaders of the software industry are doing; they are changing before they have to.
What does it mean to embrace offshore software development?
- It means recognizing that the offshore developers are real people, just like you. They share many of the same desires you do for a family and a better life, both as individuals and as entire countries. You can’t buy into the lie that offshore developers are some sort of evil force out to steal your prosperity.
- It means working to become part of the solution in your current position. Go figure out how can you identify the right projects for offshore development, or how to keep an offshore team in sync with changing business needs. Solve some real problems to make offshore outsourcing successful and you will increase your own value.
- It means looking for new opportunities presented by offshore outsourcing. Maybe you can do that project that would have been so helpful, but could not be justified at US development cost. Maybe your company can compete at the next level up with additional resources from offshore. Maybe you can start that company you have been thinking about and build a new software product with offshore resources.
The goal of this site is to promote discussion and share experiences to help you succeed with offshore outsourcing of software development.
If you share this goal and accept the challenge, here are some concrete actions you can take right now:
- Fill out the Offshore Outsource Software Survey. This survey will combine the experience of many software professionals to give us a better view into what factors make offshore software development projects successful.
- Signup for update notifications on the Offshore Outsource Software Success home page, or add us to your RSS reader.
- Post a comment to share your experience, ask a question, or start a conversation.
- Become an expert on offshore software development by reading and learning. Use this site a reference and submit ideas for articles that you think would be helpful.
- You can even write an article for this site.
I hope you make the decision to embrace offshore software development.