Offshore Fears and Disaster Recovery Planning

fearThe most common emotion associated with introduction of outsourcing in organization, running offshore engagements, and even terminating relationship with an outsourcing vendor is fear. At least that is what I’ve observed over the years. Fear comes in many shapes and forms – anxiety, worry, distress, alarm, panic, paranoia and so on. We worry about so many things – deadlines, turnover, communication failures, key contributors… the list goes on and on.

We worry about many things, and most of them never happen. As a matter of fact, experience shows that 99% of things that we worry about to do not happen, and when things do happen events come at us so fast that we have no time to worry.  Yet we continue to live in paranoia thoroughly convinced that outsourcing world is out to get us.

What is fear? FEAR, as someone put it, is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Sadly enough it’s often the case. First, we create in our minds a picture of some negative events, outcomes or consequences. Then we invest a great deal of emotional energy into that picture making it practically real, we stack various ideas and extrapolations to add the power to our vision, and eventually our brain can’t tell the difference between reality and the heap of false evidence we’ve created. The paranoia sets in.

Needless to say operating in that state of mind is not going to bring the best in us, more so the more we dwell on negative aspects, the high the chances of us encountering them. We naturally navigates toward what we concentrate on.I saw that again and again when whitewater rafting – if while going through a complex rapid you concentrate on hazards – stones, holes, etc. – you practically guaranteed to hit them and capsize. If your mind is focused on the path through the rapids accidents are far less likely.

I like Tony Robbins’s take on fear. He calls all negative emotions “action signals”, and fear (worry, anxiety, etc.) is a signal stating that we need to get prepared. And that is exactly what we need to do to deal with our outsourcing worries. And that what I do myself and recommend to my clients. Here is time proven five step action plan for dealing with offshore fears:

  1. Identify the fear, or to be more precise, specific risk(s) associated with your outsourcing initiative. What is keeping you up at night?
  2. Identify all possible outcomes including a domino effect in case the risk materializes. Identify the worst possible scenario / outcome. Resolve to be prepared to deal with / accept the worst possible scenario / outcome.
  3. Develop a Risk Mitigation strategy. Define actions and steps you need to take to reduce the risk.
  4. Develop Disaster Recovery (DR) plans for each of the negative outcomes. Identify the plan “B” for running your operations in case the risk materializes. Define actions and steps you will need to take to control / minimize the damage.
  5. Test your DR plan and adjust it based on findings.

The last item in the list may require a bit of creativity. DR plans are not easy to test without affecting your operations. However, having DR plan which is not periodically tested might turn out to be worse than having no DR plan at all. So you owe it to yourself to test it, and in most cases there is a way. For example, what would happen if Shankar my key resource on the project Olivia quits? My DR plan is to put Xavier in charge. OK, let’s send Shankar for Java conference in London and ask Xavier to step in while Shankar is out. Pretty soon we’ll know whether DR plan was viable…

Well, having DR won’t save you from all the troubles, but it certainly helps with dealing with them, and it will reduce if not completely eliminate your FEAR…

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