There are many cons to outsourcing work to India, and similar countries, as I'm sure my readers are well aware but I thought I'd take a moment to share with you my experience. I don't like to blog about negative experiences but each and everyday I am bombarded by emails from companies located in India asking me to outsource work to them and it's time to take a public stance on this issue. The following is why I will never willingly use an over-seas outsourcing company if I have a choice.
I wrote that there are two big challenges faced by all teams. In-effective utilization or organization of timelines and poor communication. These two issues work hand in hand against each other. These issues are based on my experiences working on an international level and online with virtual teams, but these are even more relevant when it comes to working with third party companies located across the world. That works in different rooms, floors, offices, and if any members are offsite completely. The third major issue I added to the discussion in the last post, teamwork, or more accurately individuality, is blatantly apparent when working with outsourcing companies.
The key issues discussed where:
Communication is a pretty obvious issue. Without good communication between ALL members a million problems can surface and in the case of outsourcing, communication failure is inevitable.
Lack of clarity
Communication is more than just keeping the lines open, but also being as clear as possible. While on one hand it is good to give details when asking someone to do something, it is equally as important to not overcomplicate something with unnecessary information. Not only does a lack of clarity delay things getting done because it is necessary to go back and forth until everyone understands, but it also causes mistakes and misunderstandings. This issue is magnified tenfold when dealing with an outsourcing company.
Distant Communication Complexity
While it may seam obvious to you that it’s only 2:00 PM and you can’t expect someone to do something for you in the next few hours with a quick email, when your working with an outsourcing company and have team members across the globe, your members are across many time zones. Is your teammate sitting down to dinner, or out for some Friday night fun? Perhaps you are in a later time zone and you are done for the day but they are just getting started. Even if you feel like you have a good grasp of time expectations, these things will get in the way to a great extent when your team is not even operating in the same day let alone a workable time zone difference. There is no way around the fact that this will create major slowdowns to the entire process. If your in a hurry and have a deadline, which 99% of clients do, you will have to realize that your project will not be done acceptably in a timely manner. While it may be tempting to pick up the phone and just call for some quick clarification, rather than waiting till tomorrow for an answer, but you will be imposing on their personal time to do this.
To recap the concerns here are:
Each member will need adequate time to deliver his or her responsibilities and delays from one person with affect to the next person in line. The timeline issue refers to problems like, late submissions, assumptions that someone else will wait till the last minute to receive your submission, delays do to human error or unforeseen circumstances, not allowing adequate time for feedback, and in general not doing things in a timely manner. If everyone puts their tasks off to the last minute there isn’t any time left for the team to give feedback or the team members to revise their work. The person at the end of the line, usually the developer or project manager, gets the short end of the stick. Delays will happen and it is to be expected, but the deadline must move forward to compensate for unforeseen delays. When the outsourcing company makes mistakes, which they will, you will loose days trying to fix them, if not weeks.
Individuality and Trust. There is no “I” in TEAM.
This may not be the best word to describe this so perhaps a more elaborate description would be appropriate here. What I am talking about is a lack of teamwork as a result of members only looking after their own interests. This will surface more in a situation where the team members are not individuals so much as they are different companies working together for one client. For example you may have a design firm creating the designs for the client and a different company, often outsourced, doing the programming. The more different companies you add to the mix the more complicated it all gets. These companies will make mistakes and often not take responsibility for them. Sometimes different team members may have different expectations about what part they play or what tasks they should do and time can be lost when they hit grey areas or assume it’s someone else’s job to do a specific task. These companies will only be looking out for their companies own interest and staying in the good favor of the client, which means blaming mistakes on you and very often unscrupulous tactics to steel your client from you in order to get more business in this tough economy.
Knowing your place
So once again, clear communication becomes crucial and the project manager needs to be the center of communication. The client really needs to send all communication through the project manager and resist the urge to deal with different parts of the team separately. There is an old saying, the right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing and the more hands you have the more important this is. However, I have yet to have a client in this situation that can understand the importance of this rule and outsourcing companies understand this even less. These companies operate on we can do it all mentalities and have little respect for American business and especially professional women. I don’t know why but many years of experience tell me this is true.
Touchier subject manner
This is where my experience, opinions, and those of many web designers and developers across the country come into play. The outsourcing companies work on the following business model:
Why should this matter?
Every designer and developer reading this will immediately understand these statements but for clients and hobbyist here’s a little explanation…
So, to wrap it up...
If your an outsourcing company do not contact me, I am not interested. You go against the most important principle that my company was founded on, that the client deserves the best quality work, dedicated service, and a fair and honest pricing structure.
If your a designer or developer, or even a client, please share your experiences. Just keep it annonymous, if you do not have enough respect for any given client or companies privacy I will delete your comment.