Outsourcing: Here IT Comes!

Outsourcing: Here IT Comes!

Vanina Mangano At a time when outsourcing is quickly becoming the norm, employees of companies that have not yet jumped on the outsourcing wagon are becoming anxious of what is to come. Is their job at stake? Should they be worried? Outsourcing is literally everywhere - from software to planning your next party. So is there cause to stress about losing your job, or perhaps celebrate that finally help is on the way? As part of a software outsourcing company, I have frequently seen the fear lurking in the eyes of engineers as I make a presentation to introduce outsourcing into their company. A few times, I have even received a direct "warning" from an employee who was simply trying to protect his job. On the opposite end, I have also experienced what it is like to be in the other set of shoes... the ones that have been "outsourced".

It is a tough spot to be in when you're caught in the midst of the uncertain, or a worst-case scenario, where your role or department is being moved externally. In the world of technology, it sometimes feels as though outsourcing has only recently developed when it has actually been around for a long time. The process now has evolved and different roles have come into play. Companies are becoming more specialized, playing a role similar to that of a consultant, although at a grander scale. As a result, things like the "virtual company" have become increasingly more common. This doesn't suggest a tidal wave of job loss, just a change of specialization and a greater focus on B2B. In many cases, outsourcing is a complement to existing staff, and can mean only a re-drawing of job descriptions. Based on these factors, outsourcing seems like a natural inclination and move for many companies. But once again, the uncertainty of what is to come can be heart wrenching.

But now, on to more important matters - you! Should you be worried about being outsourced? To start, there isn't really a clear-cut answer to these burning questions. Every situation and circumstance is different. If you are in the "other" set of shoes, this is the moment to refrain from panicking. In fact, think of this as good news, and not necessarily as preparing to become the outsourcing monster's next meal. The best approach is to evaluate the situation from a more technical standpoint, as opposed to an emotional one. Here is a handy list to consult before leaping off the edge:

    1. Don't jump to conclusions. When we do this, we're usually driven to make poor decisions that result in poor actions.

    2. Rather than panicking, take a step back and analyze the circumstances.

    3. Consider the situation from the following angles to better understand what outsourcing would mean: you, your manager, the department, the company.

    4. Consider whether outsourcing can better aid you in performing your job.

You'll notice a consistent message in the above points: 1) don't assume (we all know what that really means by now), and 2) take the precious minutes to investigate. Many times we are driven to make choices and take actions based on fear and ignorance rather than rational behavior, and in the end those choices and actions are hurtful. To better understand and investigate your scenario, there are several key questions you can ask yourself:
  • Consider the reasons for the outsourcing need: Is it cost? A limited pool of internal resources? Or a need for more specific expertise?
  • Based on your response from the above, can this be found internally? If not, what are other options to consider?
  • If you were the internal decision maker, what would your response to these questions be? Your end goal may be different, and alternate factors may enter into the picture.
  • Here is the difficult one: where do you fit into the puzzle? Does any of the above involve your complete replacement, or is your concern that it will lead to your eventual replacement?
It may seem difficult to answer these questions when your unease stems from losing your bread and butter, but it will better prepare you for what's to come, and many times, bring you relief from needless worry. As part of your investigation, you may want to openly discuss your concern with your manager. You'd be surprised at the insight you may be privy to by addressing your concerns head on - of course, remembering to compose yourself with utter professionalism the entire time. If this is your tactic, come to the meeting prepared. Doing your homework may alter the role you play if outsourcing happens, and this is especially important if it turns out that outsourcing work may later translate into a permanent goodbye.

The conclusion: there is none! Everyone is different and you can expect every situation to be unique. There is no such thing as an outsourcing monster, and he isn't out to get you. Be informed and investigate; those are the two things that will provide you the confidence to proceed wisely and to rise to the occasion at hand.

About the author:
Vanina Mangano is the Vice President of Business Development for BHNET Software Solutions, a software development outsourcing corporation based in Southern California. Vanina has extensive experience working with companies who have developed a presence abroad in Asian and European countries. She is also the co-founder of www.MYeFlora.com, an online gardening community.

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