I read an article in Computerworld’s January 23 issue titled “‘Prenuptuals’ For Offshoring” and it made me think. Those of you who know me know that I’m no fan of offshore outsourcing. This article talks about things to put in your offshoring contract. Apparently it ain’t all that easy to get your money out of these folks if things turn sour. The expert quoted in the article (an attorney) recommends putting lots of escape clauses in the contract so you can get out of a bad relationship (or if you’ve committed lots of business to the particular outsourcing company, get out of the parts that are going south without having to sacrifice the relationship).
It’s interesting to see what’s going on in Offshoring. I think it can work, but it’s difficult and takes a lot of organizational maturity (something I’ve seen little of in my 15 years in IT). Management is convinced that if we can utilize the same number of developers, but pay them 1/4 (and they’re also not employees, with the commensurate expense involved), then holy crap, batman! We will save a ton of money. And you know, that may be true for release 1. In release 2 (after your onshore team, smaller – due to layoffs – and not exactly happy campers) fixes the crap that was delivered, it costs twice as much. No worries, we’re still saving money. Release 3 is where the whole thing implodes. Believe it. Costs will spiral out of control. Management will reorg (the scapegoats will be the ones who either are reassigned to “special projects”, are senior managers that now have no staff, or have decided to pursue “other career opportunities”). The tattered remains of the development staff will be interviewing a motley crew of applicants (after months, of course, of looking “internal” – to no avail).
Okay, I digress. The point is this: when Computerworld is interviewing lawyers because it’s relevant to offshoring (the message: “Watch your ass.”) it may be time to rethink the whole thing.