Keeping things hidden from clients is a no-no situation because eventually “that cat will fall out of the bag” and then …
Laminar Consulting Services is a software development company based in Los Angeles, California which uses Outsourcing primarily towards User Interface (UI) development being the majority of its client base local, since the region has developed around the Tech context
Sean explained that resorting to Outsourcing was triggered because User Interface creation is not a Core capacity of Laminar. While software coding and development is constant, UI is not required most of the time, therefore any dedicated resources would be mostly unoccupied.
Is it made clear to your customers?
Most times transparency works better. As Sean points out it is pointless to incur into a risk situation of hiding from the client something as trivial as Outsourcing a minor part of the overall project and have it potentially jeopardizing the relationship, not because it is something serious but just because it was hidden from the client. The exception applies if and when the job is so small that it is irrelevant to burden the process with such clarifications.
Any project bears risks and when resorting to a 3rd party Outsourcing, if neither the goals are crystal clear nor does coordination and awareness exist, the relationship with the client may become undermined.
Trust is, in fact, something that builds up over time and joint experiences, therefore it is within a prudent attitude to start with baby steps, while establishing a business relationship with an Outsourcing provider and move on from there.
Sean points out that there is actual overhead on top of Offshoring that, over time ends up representing it being more expensive that if the option had been to Nearshore.
In one hand, cultural and language barriers imply having to resort to a “project manager” alike profile that facilitates communication as well as assures tuning towards deadlines and goals, and that is permanent overhead; while on the other hand a local senior resource, although more expensive, will develop work faster within the same (or even better) quality standards with minimal communication driven errors potential risk.
So, over time, and with the accumulation of errors and inherent work time required to fixing them, the overall invested work time may prove to turn lower cost Offshoring into a more expensive option than Nearshoring.
Any time you can reduce risk within a project, you should do it.
On the toolkit
Besides mandatory client meetings, for they are most relevant for fostering the relationship and the ever so present “phone”, Laminar also uses Skype and GoToMeeting for communication with its business partners. From a project perspective Microsoft TFS (Team Foundation Server) and SharePoint for document-based collaboration work.
Development methodology wise the toolkit of election depends on the customer, while some are tech savvy therefore enabling the use of a SCRUM and AGILE approach, other clients required the traditional development “waterfall” methodologies.
Custom built, proprietary business assets (like the workflow), as well as innovation technologies that may represent a competitive edge, are not subject to Outsourcing.
Sean explains that a successful Outsourcing endeavour requires, to begin with, the clear establishment of goals and then having everybody on the same page on how to jointly accomplish those goals.
Reliability is also a major factor on Sean perspective, meaning one needs to trust one’s partner ability and willingness to be flexible and proactive to the required extended leading to a successful project outcome.
Within a project, Quality Assurance is either done proactively during the development phase or afterward under a “fire department emergency intervention mode” after Go-Live.
When starting to Outsource, it is vital to undergo a proper due diligence process, checking references and portfolio in detail but also to have a clear goal and not just focus on cost reduction. Mapping one’s own portfolio and existing contracts with clients (SLAs), and try-out potential Outsourcing partners within the requirements of such metrics to assess up to which extent your partner meets the challenge.