Are You Still Outsourcing?

Outsourcing Latest news on Satyam Computer Services fraud just can’t keep me from returning back to the same question: why would a big company outsource something like an IT services to foreign country. The main reason I keep hearing is that pricing makes outsourcing offerings irresistible. On top of that it removes the need to manage the projects separately, instead feeding requests into a “black box” and getting a ready product on the other end of it.

Well, for starters, if your only competitive advantage is the price – there will be someone who can offer either a lower price, or more benefits for the same money. Add to that language differences (if you ever had a conversation with a tech support “guru” from India you know what I am talking about). Add time differences – whenever you need an anwers in half-hour, your outsourced tech contacts are out of the office. Add mentality difference – or the way things are made to work by “us” and by “them”.

I am even discounting my own experience of fixing things after outsourced help. Just out of pure observation and reading the news, the margin isn’t all that high – I would estimate the average margin at about $10 ,000 – 15,000 per employee vs. an outsourced consultant. On the other side of the scale we have management nightmares, managers having to travel to forein country every month at company’s expense (and being a high level managers they don’t fly economy class – not that I’m aware of).

So instead of having a little more expensive but more readily available local workers companies sign up for cheap labor from overseas, adding management burden, time differences and misunderstandings to the plate. In the end, the overall cost of the finished project would be same or higher then if a local resources were used. And don’t even start me on the quality of the final product

It’s a rhethorical question, but it needs to be asked: when would American companies realize that they are not that rich to buy cheap things?


Outsourcing At Home

If you ever went to local BestBuy, or even swung by – you already know what Geek Squad is. What you, probably, not realizing is that it’s the simplest form of local outsourcing. Buying a computer? Let the Geek Squad member install it for you. But there are only that many squad members on dorky white-orange-black cars.For years your local computer techs have dominated this scene. It was cheaper to build your PC from parts by you local computer store then to buy one from one of the big-name merchants. With Dell hitting hard on prices local techs are all but extinct. I know because I used to be one of those “can you fix my computer” guys. With less waiting time on the phone with tech support and fast replacement turnaround it is now next to impossible to make any decent income (even supplemental) from those gigs. For small businesses, however, it may just not be the case. Services like GeekSquad or similar are in demand. For an office of a dozen people having their own tech guy is very expensive. However, when you need an upgrade for your network, replacement of some old computers while retaining the data or setting up a backup solution – teams like this are indispensable.

From my perspective – it is a good thing. It keeps jobs in USA.


Mysteries at stores

Shopping could be a good experience. It also could be a disaster (just think of your budget after Christmas and New Years for a moment!). Some people make it a mystery. I am talking about companies that provides mystery shopping service.

Now, this marketing research technique is nothing new, but if you really want to get to know what is going on in the field – you have to go to the field. Some of us, business owners, simply cannot afford such a luxury. That’s where mystery shopping service comes into play.

Sounds like fun if you know how to deal with all the data.

P.S. For those who are interested in how this stuff works – there is always a chance to apply online to become a secret shopper. Not sure about the benefits package, but definitely something to think about once the retirement would feel closer.