Ready to Outsource?

Organization outsourcing maturity is one of the most important ingredients for an outsourcing initiative. Attempts to force outsourcing to an organization that is not prepared / not ready for it are likely to fail and chances are with a lot of collateral damage. That is true for any outsourcing initiative, not only for offshore; well, it applies to pretty much any organizational change, but my focus is on specifics of offshore though. What does it mean to have your organization ready for offshore outsourcing? Here is a high-level checklist to consider:

  • Solid justification / objective reasons for outsourcing. Jumping into outsourcing following the lemming instinct would end up with pretty much the proverbial result. The industry is full of examples when organizations went after outsourcing just because it was “the best practice” and ended up with massive losses – financial, customer satisfaction, knowledge, etc. Take a look at “reasons for outsourcing” or “my reasons”, go through your own list, and make sure that you have solid objective reasons to even consider offshore. Go through a thorough and very conservative what-if analysis and unless you see a substantial ROI set the idea aside.
  • Sufficient budget. You most likely heard about a hockey-stick or a J-curve – a curve / a pattern of success in business. Look at the budgets you have in-hand with the same perspective. Success requires initial investment and ability to sustain negative cash flow for some time, you need to survive that dip, before you start realizing ROI.
  • Executive commitment / sponsorship. Lack of executive commitment is certain to ruin your offshore strategy. If your executives do not accept the realities of offshore savings, if they are not prepared to wait through a negative stage of the J-curve you are certain run out of budgets prior to getting offshore initiative on the path to success. It’s even worth if your executive team doesn’t buy into offshore idea due to political or personal preferences. The last thing you want to do is spear head an initiative that’s only purpose is to show a bad example.
  • Team understanding, support and commitment. Chances are you can’t do it alone and through out all stages of outsourcing you will need to rely on support of your team. I do not think I need any mountaineering metaphors here. However, strangely enough, I have seen many times when offshore initiatives were driven down the thought of a core team, at the expense of the employee morale and wellbeing, without support and consideration. In my view that results at best in malicious compliance, more frequently in clever or blatant sabotage.
  • Processes and procedures. Often undermined in small organizations immature processes and procedures, in particular in SDLC / project management, are almost certain to result in offshore failure. Large process-savvy organizations are also not immune as the need for the processes is proportional to organization’s size. The most important aspect of the processes is communication channels and their efficiency, inter-departmental handovers, and internal roles and responsibilities definitions.

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