Outsourcing – Is it a dirty word?


BY Sam Davies


15 September 2013

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I was living and working in London I was running my own small business and had local clients, but I also worked with and for a company here in Australia. None of my clients then (some of which I still have) had any issue with me being in London. We used Skype, shared screens and I shuffled around time zones.. It worked out well for the guys in Aus because my rates were slightly lower than the same talent locally.. And I was happy for the work…

Why is it that so many people are frightened or awkwardly smirk when the ‘Outsourced’ word pops up?

Do you need to know that the guy writing the code for your pretty website is behind a desk on Terra Australis? Many of you did not seem to mind when it was an Australian sitting on British soil coding for you..

Perhaps it comes down to the feeling of ‘exploitation’ – using ‘cheap’ offshore labour whilst charging big bucks to the local client.. Capitalism run rampant, a fat cat in a top-hat hoarding dollars…

This just isn’t the case (for us anyways)….

Our industry is built on remote digital connections.. I have grown up on the Edge of a generation who use digital media to communicate more than any before them. Sometimes I feel like I have one foot in the new world and one in the old. I respect small business and loathe the corporate take over ethos. The internet is still new territory. The big guys are slowly getting their hooks in but it is still essentially a new frontier and there is plenty of land for my generation who still believe in the ‘Local’, however with a global outlook.

Relationships are number one in business, for me. I have no interest in building a  sweatshop that flings out the same product day after day for huge profits and little overheads. I value quality and creativity, not just in a ‘design – pretty picture sense’ but in every aspect of my life and business. If I can cut a corner here without sacrificing quality then why not do it? If I can expand my output without increasing my exposure to potential risk, why wouldn’t I?

These are the thoughts that lead me to begin ‘outsourcing’ some of my development work in the first place. After several years experience working with offshore teams on projects I feel I have learnt a thing or two.  Here are some of them.

  • Rarely does it make a job ‘easier’ – unless you have put the leg work in and formed a strong relationship with a team or have the world most water tight spec, you are going to find yourself middle managing every step of the development
  • The quality you get is highly dependant on your own management / specing skills
  • If you do not take the time to build a relationship with your contractors you will be at risk of lazy workmanship, poor attention to detail and outright bad quality
  • Outsourcing does not mean ‘fling and forget’ – you will have to watch over a project as if it were being developed by someone in your own office.
  • Low prices in 90% of the case equals bad workmanship….Or in other terms
  • You still pay for what you get.

Ok then.. Why even bother? 

Sometimes we hit critical mass with our team here in Adelaide. For me to put together a new team of local designers and developers is a huge cost, both in time and money and whilst we are growing organically we cannot triple our team overnight and maintain the same quality. We want to keep the same competitive prices for you and the same quality. This is when I find a high quality outsourced ‘partner’ to be a huge asset. If managed correctly I can have a team of 15 people working on a large project for me overnight and not miss a step…

I have just spent the last week in Singapore meeting a lovely team from Pune, India. Atul the owner of iSynergy  has offices in South Africa and the US. He leads a team of hard working talented developers and project managers. We have engaged him and his team on some large in house projects which we just could not handle in-house given our current size.

I don’t consider them to be ‘outsourced’ any more, they are now partners of Digital Noir.. A part of my team in another part of the world, just like I was in London..

There will be more to come on this rant.. But for now I would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Outsourcing’

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir