Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Outsourcing, What Not To Do Part 1

A few years back I got my start with outsourcing talent for my team.  Like many companies, mine was was experiencing issues finding qualified local talent and also finding people within our limited budget.  I have to say, it's been a long road and I've definitely learned a few things along the way and am still learning all the time.

My job requires me to hire programmers with data warehousing, ETL, and most importantly database (SQL) skills.  When I talk about the difficulties of finding talent, it's related to those areas.

So, this my first post on the subject, I wanted to start with what NOT to do.

The "don't" list (part 1):
  • Don't believe everything you read:  You can't assume you know the right place to start hiring people from reading a couple articles about outsourcing in your trade journal of choice.  Keep in mind that the best places to go are not going to be highly published.  For example, yes, you can still hire Programmers in India today, but are you going to get the huge price benefits that the companies who got there first gained?  Not likely.  If you come late to the table, expect to find the same problems finding good talent you have at home.
  • Don't count on the local contracting companies to get your market information:  They are trying to sell you resources for as much money as they can get!  Of course they are going to try to convince you to pay more.  If you are working with a local contracting company and they tell you "It's the normal market here that salaries are increasing at 30% per year" you need to get some form of independent confirmation, don't take them at their word.  If you believe everything you are told, you will get overcharged.
  • Don't expect local contract companies to give you their best talent:  In some markets in India for example, they can hire 10 low level persons for the price of one talented one.    If you do not document specific skill requirements and hold your local contact accountable if they don't meet those requirements, you will end up with a bunch of people who know less than your pet dog about how to write good code.  You'll spend more money after hiring the contractors and have less productivity from your existing resources as your team leaders will be spending all their time training the new hires who will promptly move on to more lucrative projects once they get some experience.
  • Don't believe everything you see on a resume:  Yes, this is closely related to item three.  Some people go to a resume writing service to ensure they have all the right buzzwords on their resume and to buy a fake degree.  Be sure that you have some good method to check that you are getting what you paid for from your outsourced resources.  If you have no way to measure success, you will fail and you spend lots of extra money for no long term benefit.
  • Don't just assume your contract hires will be easy to reach:  Begin to think about the fact that you have to consider timezone differences for most contract workers.  Not having people available when your US workers are in the office can be severely detrimental to your projects getting done in a timely manner.  When it's 10pm in Chicago it's 9:30am in India and noon in the Philippines of the next day (no, the 30 minute differential for India is not a typo, they do their time differently than in the US!!).  If you don't clearly outline what hours your contract resources must be available, you will find that you are having meetings at 3am just to work on project plans with your new team.  You are hiring them, make sure they work when you want them to work.
I will continue with more of the "don't" list in my next post.  By all means, please post your comments and let me know what you think!    

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