Offshore the Managers? Readers Speak

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 06-22-2005 Print Email
Opinion: Ziff Davis Internet's Jeff Angus suggested that it makes more sense to offshore IT managers and keep developers in the same location as users, then invited readers to respond. The responses were intelligent, well argued, and complet
Resolved: That offshoring technology executive and/or development management will benefit project effectiveness and organizational competitiveness.

Two weeks back I described why I believe that if you accept the traditional business case arguments for offshoring development and developers, it makes more sense to offshore management and executives instead.

I invited readers to respond in 111 words or less with a "Pro" or "Con" statement to the resolution that leads off this article, and offered a small prize to the best argument on each side of the issue.

We got a lot of responses. They fell into five categories. There were general comments that did not try to argue for one side or another, pointing out additional aspects of the issue the writers believed important.

There were two piles o' writers who favored offshoring management: those who believed the people who do the line work should also be offshored (what we'll call Extraordinary Rendition), and those who took the line that workers should be hired in-house (we'll call this the Jeff Arrangement, because that's the one I suggested made most sense).

Among the "Con" respondents, there were those who believed line workers should be domiciled offshore or wherever the work could be done at the lowest out-of-pocket cost (we'll call this Status Quo), and there were writers who felt those in-house managers should be managing in-house developers (whom I call YIMBYs).

By the way: There were insightful responses that misunderstood the contention as well, conflating the term "offshoring" with "outsourcing," and making arguments in support or in opposition to outsourcing that was not offshore, something I didn't specifically address.

While organizations do some of their outsourcing offshore, most outsourcing is done domestically.

And while offshoring is almost always done to save on upfront labor costs, most outsourcing that isn't out of the region costs as much or more as leaving things inside the company.

For example, many organizations avoid putting consultants or other part-time experts on the books, even if they cost more as contractors, because our perverse tax structure usually punishes businesses for hiring local people and subsidizes layoffs or job exports.

Here, I'll present the Honorable Mentions, the most enlightening of the entries that didn't win. Some of these were of winning quality but didn't follow the instructions.

Extraordinary Rendition

The position is nothing new. This is already happening. This is next stage in outsourcing process. You have to bundle the application development as a process and offshore it.

So, for example, if the function of an IT-related department is to support the technology requirement of (say) Wealth Management Group. You can offshore this function entirely, which includes management and individual contributors.

The management of the offshore group will then deal with business managers onshore to support their requirements. — Sanjeev J. Nair, NetBenefit International

Mr. Nair makes a strong argument for offshoring both management and individual contributors. Note that later in his response, he also argued cogently for the Status Quo case, that is, keeping managers local while offshoring individual contributors.

Next Page: Status quo.



 

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...