The days when every app and piece of software were created and maintained internally have long been over, with companies such as Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Oracle with extensive partner networks of solution providers. While these partner networks are a great way to expand your reach, there are lots of other choices to outsource your IT needs. Let’s explore a few different alternatives that you might not have thought about.
The days when IT jobs went overseas have evolved to where many IT shops are now located in the good ole U.S. of A. Called “onshoring,” it is catching on and now these jobs might travel only a few hundred miles away. As an example, Centene Corp. is using small teams of IT developers from Onshore Outsourcing based in rural communities about a three hour drive north of their St. Louis headquarters. The teams work together with their in-house developers; Centene is in the business of managed health care plans and likes that they can keep their jobs in state and have the outsourced team members come to their offices for regular face-to-face meetings.
Another direction for outsourcing is to make use of managed service providers and Software-as-a-Service solutions. Essentially, you are paying monthly fees and moving capital expenditures to recurring operating expenses. You can buy just about anything these days via these models, and many companies are finding that the costs can bring fast returns and ultimately save money, since they are only paying for capacity when they need it. This process also relieves the burden of smaller IT staffs from maintaining gear and moves the responsibility to the managed provider for equipment upgrades and routine maintenance chores.
And one final way is to use the crowd for your outsourcing needs. Called ‘crowdsourcing,’ the notion is to split a job into very small pieces that can be done by a single individual or computer, such as image processing or solving complex mathematical equations. Think about transcribing an audio recording, or using Photoshop to process a series of photographs, or finding a graphic designer to create a logo for a new product. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and eLance.com are two of the more than a dozen firms that operate in this space. If you want to learn more about how this is done, listen to a podcast that I did with Brent Frei, who runs a company that is active in this space. You can save lots of money and time with this method too.
As you can see, there is a lot of depth to the modern interpretation of outsourcing. Regardless of which method you choose, you need to ensure that the cultures between your own organization and your outsourcers match and you have the right partner for the job they are working on. I also have other suggestions for ensuring the outsourcing success here in an article I wrote for Baseline Magazine.