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In growing organizations, the IT department is always stretched at the best of times. When your company, however, has grown beyond its ability to house all the potential work and saying no to new projects is not an option, it is time to consider outsourcing. Having some of the current projects like IT support or accounting outsourced is a great way to give your company some breathing room while keeping up with the competition.
You don’t have to turn customers away, your company maintains its growing phase, and your resources are not overwhelmed. How can you possibly lose, right? Well, you can’t, provided you find the right help from the multitude of vendors available from around the globe. The challenge lies in sorting the dedicated, competent vendors capable of delivering what is promised, from the ones that are there to just take your money and run.
The hunt for finding the right vendor starts with spending a lot of time doing some solid research. The simplest method is to Google search the term “outsourcing content” and more the thirteen million results will be at your disposal. The trick is to make the search more specific to your needs and then you will get hits which will be more reasonable.
Spend some time reading to get a feel for what is available. Reading about the horror stories other companies have experienced when work is outsourced is just as important as reading the good experiences. That way, you will know the problems to look out for and to make sure to avoid them. Talking to peers who have outsourced work is another good way of finding vendors.
While the company they have used may not be suitable for you because their area of expertise might not be what you want your work done in, it will give you ideas. Using the services of a professional vendor matching service is another option. Some such companies have years of experience and since they work with vendors all the time, they can vouch for the quality of work to some extent. They have huge databases and can often deliver between three to five qualified vendors for the type of work desired.
Then there are the online job and project boards. There are many body-shop type companies available at good rates, but at times some small companies having outsourcing services also register here. Also, trade associations can provide excellent information about potential vendors. The Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and RUSSOFT, Russian Association of Software Development and Outsourcing Companies can help with the vendor selection process. They can also arrange meetings.
Once a list of potential vendors has been shortlisted, even if they have been supplied by a professional vendor matching service, take the time to investigate each carefully. Don’t just take anyone’s word that the vendor is good. Each company has its own criteria and needs and while the vendor may have done a good job with one company, it does not necessarily mean that he will be suitable for you.
So do your own research to be sure. Ask the shortlisted vendors about their experience, the companies they have done projects for in your part of the world, and the kinds of projects completed. Look online to see if the vendor has any reviews. The more projects they have done, the better their experience, hence the fewer problems you likely to run into. Finally, make a request for proposal (RFP). Do not settle for a RFP from just one or two, get at least eight to ten proposals before making your final decision.
A request for proposal should be posted by your organization to elicit bids from potential vendors. If you just make a request for a proposal and the vendor uses one of the numerous templates available online, imagine ending up with tons of varying information of which very little may be of any practical use to your needs.
If you provide the vendor with a carefully structured document, relevant to your needs and making it as detailed as you feel necessary to make a good decision, then the information you get will all be useful. Additionally, you will be able to keep all ten documents side by side and compare what the different vendors are offering as you go down the list of sections one by one. This will make the decision making process easier for you.
When you have reached the point of making a decision, just keep these few things in mind. Outsourcing is better than out-tasking with large projects. This is because if a new addition needs to be made or there are changes, the developers who worked on the first project are no longer available. So you have to start over again.
In outsourcing, there is some peace of mind in knowing that since the service provider completed the whole project alone, instead of a single task out of the project, they can manage the required changes. In case some of the vendor’s programmers leave before you request changes or additions, at least the knowledge about the project will still be with the vendor and the alterations can be accomplished.
Have clear expectations from the vendor before making the final selection. Know in which technologies and industries the service provider is proficient in to be able to complete your project successfully.
Also, take into account the technologies necessary for the future of your software. Discuss if it acceptable to you if the vendor does subcontracting. Make clear if it is acceptable or not for your vendor to work for your competitors in your market. Make sure your vendor is big enough to be able to handle your project, but small enough so they you get the necessary attention. Also, talk about the size of the team acceptable to you for working on your project.
After the selection has been made, don’t blindly trust the vendor. Building trust and a working relationship takes time. Start by setting targets and specifying basic requirements which are in line with the long-term plan. Follow through by checking if the tasks are completed as needed.