Software Offshore Outsourcing: Art That Requires More Than Sitting Back and Eating Peanuts!

Seen the movie ‘Software Outsourced’? Todd Anderson (played by Josh Hamilton) reluctantly travels to India to train staff at an outsourcing office.

Arriving in India, he is confused by everything, finds the culture shock too much to digest and to his distress, everybody, including the employees and his landlady, calls him ‘Mr. Toad’ because of their difficulty pronouncing his name.

Talk of problems? You wouldn’t know what hit you when you opt for Software Offshore Outsourcing! But hang on. That is if you have no clue about the right way to go about it.

By the end of the movie Anderson has a fantastic team of employees. The team beats targets and picks up training like fish takes to water. Eventually, Anderson hates the thought of going back to America! That’s the point.

Once you learn how to tackle an outsourcing software project you would be left wondering why you never tried it earlier.

When you start off with software offshore outsourcing there can be several problems ranging from language, cultural differences to availability of experienced professionals and straddling different time zones.

But the flip side is that you get to tap an amazing talent pool available half way across the world at way too low a price.

You can translate the cost-saving into price-cuts for your customers which, in turn, would help you stay ahead of the local competition. Call it business acrobatics – the clever way.

Of course, at all times, your priority remains meeting deadlines and staying within budget. It’s possible. How about a structured approach that you can follow? Here’s the way to go.

Scope of work

What would you say to sending out a novice commando to take out a bunch of hijackers holding up hostages in a plane? “Nuts, he’d blow everything up to nothing”. Right? Exactly!

So, you have to start off by being absolutely clear about the scope of the project at hand. Figure out what kind of a task you have at hand?

Assess the situation. Would you manage with a single eligible freelancer or you need a small mid-size company overseas? Don’t rush in where fools do tread.

Outsourcing has its rewards but only if taken up professionally. Any goof-ups on the part of the staff you pick would translate into heavy losses for your business. There’s seldom a life-jacket available mid-way!

Have a detailed document worked out on the objectives and scope of the project at hand before anything else. Spend extra time, if you must, to have this document ready as it would provide the foundation for the software outsourcing business that you can build successfully.

Plug in where the action is

Get on to the Internet and check all the freelancer websites. Some of the best places where you can get freelancers are guru.com, elance.com, freelancer.com and odesk.com.

Post your project as briefly yet as clearly as you can. The response is usually massive at these websites. You can then start shortlisting candidates. You will be surprised at the functionality of these websites.

You can post your project in different categories, specify what you are looking for, figure out how you want to shortlist candidates, check up resumes, reviews by previous employers etc.

These websites also offer international payment gateways via Paypal, their own payment options, credit card etc. You can hire just about anyone from anywhere in the world.

Picking the staff

It’s always easier to accept candidates for the job who are nearer to you. You can meet them and assess them. But online messengers have virtually erased the word ‘distance’ off the dictionary.

Skype someone on the other side of the planet and you can conduct a real-time interview. Always check a candidate’s employer reviews, work portfolio and profile. This would help you choose the best for your business.

But don’t just go by what’s written on the profile etc. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and always form your own opinion after an interview.

A friend recently got a shock when the person she actually insisted on interviewing via Skype turned out to be half as capable as the profile stated. Fudged-up resumes are more common than you would expect. You are likely to run into three non-performers for every single talented person out there.

Location scouting

It is usually a great idea to look for a local company in the city who have an overseas office when you want to find small-size software offshore outsourcing IT company. The risk factor is low and you can have greater faith in the commitment made by the company.

India is the way to go

The super advice that Todd Anderson got while in India was – ‘Stop resisting and you will soon find solutions.’ The movie could very well be all the truth there is to learn about outsourcing.

If you’re out on your first project then a software company in India could fit your project at a fantastic price. The overheads are almost none.

However, you will have to make a little effort to synch yourself with the time zone difference. But that’s nothing compared to the profits you get.

The written word

An agreement is always mandatory. Never ignore that. Maybe not just for legal reasons but for disciplinary reasons.

An agreement means you take your work seriously and the same is expected of the freelancer. Make sure the agreement covers the scope of work, project start date, milestones plan dates, testing and Go-live schedule.

The agreement works like a blueprint to navigate your ship successfully across choppy outsourcing waters. You can have additional sections in the Agreement defining the quality of work that you are expecting.

This can be a little problem as often people have different definitions (and capabilities) about what is good work. Be very specific about how you explain this in the Agreement.

Be specific and don’t put down sketchy requirements.

In the end, it all comes down to how closely you monitor the entire process from beginning to end.

Possibly what any archer would tell you: Look straight and don’t take your eyes off the target. Rest is matter of experience! So is it with software offshore outsourcing.

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