Talk about outsourcing to corporate IT managers, and reactions will be mixed. Most see it as an opportunity or a threat; a seismic change that’s good for the bottom line but potentially too disruptive to the status quo. Some aren’t sure either way.
I think a lot of perceptions have failed to move with the times. They perhaps haven’t noticed how the lock-stock-and-barrel IT outsourcing approaches of old have evolved into more flexible ways of delivering projects and/or project components.
Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your position on IT outsourcing. Grab a cuppa and mull over the following six reasons why it could be a welcome idea for all concerned.
1. You need it now more than ever before
The biggest reason for the rise in software development smartsourcing is the availability of skills. Opinions differ about whether there is an actual skills crisis, but few disagree that finding, recruiting and retaining a multidisciplinary team is a considerably more involved and costly process now because of market rates and demand outstripping supply.
The other compelling factor is the exponential increase in interest and business activity around digital initiatives, which typically involve custom software development. Against this backdrop is the requirement to produce or evolve software-related projects quickly in order to satisfy growing customer and user expectations. This is where smartsourcing comes into its own.
2. It’s more than just a cost-cutting consideration
Outsourcing’s bad reputation comes from the suspicion that - with a dumptruck full of potential cost savings proving too distracting to your CEO - you come into work one day to be told, “You’re all fired; we’re moving your jobs to India…” Organisations have become far more wary of such radical change, preferring instead to eye ‘smartsourcing’ approaches as part of a wider business transformation strategy.
Among the benefits enabled by this is the ability to focus on key business priorities, as demands change. In this way, organisations continue investing in the strategic value of internal IT resources, infrastructure, skills and so on, while also benefiting from relevant infusions of external expertise.
3. Greater flexibility means your horizons are not limited
The subtlety of modern smartsourcing is entirely removed from the rather more brutal practice of lifting and shifting whole IT processes or responsibilities out of an organisation. And instead of your organisation being invited to sign-up to a 10-year outsourcing marriage, you can enjoy the boundary-breaking possibilities of playing the field with whatever combination of partners you like. Software projects are - by their very nature - dynamic, challenging and 24/7.
Smartsourcing is the flexible alternative to being locked into either a major outsourcing agreement, or the finite set of skills and experiences possessed by your in-house team.
4. Use it as a competitive weapon
Famously, all but one of the European Cup winning Celtic team of 1967 was born within 10 miles of the club’s ground. Nowadays, it takes more than a homegrown approach to player development to win the top honours. The football team analogy works with software development because it takes more than one kind of skill to make a successful project. If you can’t sign the right players, then get a whole other team to play a few matches during the season!
The key here is consider the importance of software development to achieve first-mover market advantage. Often, the project velocity required is most cost-effectively and assuredly achieved when smartsourcing a third party.
5. Become more innovative and agile
One of the enduring buzz terms in enterprise IT is ‘business agility’. The thinking goes that, because large organisations are inherently more slow and stodgy than their smaller counterparts, they need IT to speed up processes and make faster decisions. The value of innovation, however, runs deeper than this. Innovation is the product of intelligence and skill, not size or speed. The intractable problem with achieving innovation is having enough time and focus to invest in it.
IT departments that smartsource software development don’t just get more external brain cells engaged with their strategic innovations; they free up more of their own internal resources to focus on them too. The crucial thing to bear in mind here is how quickly market conditions and customer/user demands change. Having a scalable, multidisciplinary platform for innovation through smartsourcing is a sure-fire way to be ready for anything.
6. It isn’t only good for big projects, departments and companies
Naturally the demands of the larger organisation make smartsourcing more compelling to them than for smaller enterprises. This is especially the case where organisations have their own large software development teams to graft onto. That’s the case both for projects that need extra manpower, or a whole new direction. Even large projects need help to maintain or enhance their innovation and competitiveness.
But the same is also true in respect of smaller projects, departments and even organisations and the good news for them is that we’ve moved away from a world where IT outsourcing was the sole preserve of the mega-corporation. Today there are significantly lower barriers to taking advantage, and far greater latitude for creative, dynamic smartsourcing engagements.
Taking a smartsourcing approach to your software development needsopens up a host of valuable opportunities for IT managers and their organisations. Traditional IT outsourcing is still a valid route in many instances, but it can’t hurt to rethink your tactics to achieve the maximum benefits.