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Outsourcing vs. The Distributed Team

In the evolving world of enterprise software development and cloud technology, innovation has grown exponentially to keep up with the rate that applications are made and managed, and so does the underbelly of its workforce. As one of the managing partners in CSW Solutions, it is all too common to see daily offers like this one:

Or this one

There are promises of legitimate, quality work with absurdly low hourly rates for overseas developers to eagerly take on any or all burdens that would normally cost more than triple the average rate for local development. The underlying message is that "they" will do all our development work for us while we maintain the face for our customers. All we'd have to do is pass along the project requirements and rake in the money while our "partner" does all the heavy lifting. I'm sure you've thought about it before too. It's obvious to any budget-minded company that they should give it a shot. Even if it means compromising their commitment to integrity in their local community. It's like making sausages or laws. You don't know what goes into them or even how ugly it gets and you don't really want to know, as long as the end result works for you. The path does seem enticing; with lower in-house costs and an ever-growing marketplace, affordability through these means would be the best way to undercut the competition. The reality of outsourcing though is very different from sausages.

First and foremost, is the issue of economic impact. There were over 14 million outsourced jobs from the US, as of a few years ago with a growth rate of at least 8% per year. To trust a team of people you have never met(and never will) with your unique data is more than a leap of faith when you really think about it. But some of us do it without a second thought! Sure, there are no borders in technology but privacy laws do not cross borders. Once you hire a team of off-shore developers, that external team delegates as they want with no connection to your company. You don’t have any real control over who is assigned to a project and loyalty is thrown out the window. If the developer is an experienced one, then you are lucky but in most cases, you get what you paid for.

Good developers are not cheap. In fact, more and more companies are losing their ability to set their own rates or even keep track of expenditure since capital is so fluid in technology. I have plenty of customers who learned it themselves; cutting corners and saving costs in development will most often not result in well-written and reliable code with a scalable software solution. Not only that, but our customers will often expect us to resolve issues that come up within a reasonable time. Working with an off-shore team usually means that if they can find the developer who was working on the project, their shift might not even start until after your local business hours. In this case, they might assign a different developer to work on an issue and you wouldn't even know it. There is usually no clear line of responsibility when something goes wrong. This means, pending issues could take more than a day to get resolved while others pile up in the queue. The market grows ever-competitive while the supply chain disappears from view. It's hard to argue the costs but in the end, it comes down to a compromise of efficiency, personalized service, and individualization.

So what do we do?

As a software consulting firm in a heavily saturated world of local and specialized companies like ours, we differentiate ourselves by providing a quality of work and a level of service and liability that stands out. We maintain a dynamic and multicultural internal team; we trust the control and quality of our production to our in-house team of full-time developers.

Since we started the company in 2005, we needed a model that would allow us to maintain our values of quality and service with a growing team of genuine talent and diversity. We found it through the distributed team. While our management and sales team are at our headquarters in downtown Chicago, our developers are exactly where they should be. Most of them work from home, some of them work from co-working spaces and none of them feel like they’re missing out on the company culture or values.

We look for individuals who are experienced working remotely and enjoy it. Remote employment and video conferencing are some of the fastest-growing trends in the workplace. It requires structure and discipline to maintain your own schedule and output with continued success. So we look for developers who are experienced and successful in this work model and want to reap the rewards of a long-term commitment to our team and our clients.

These days, the growing need for remote work has given rise to tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom that allow us to have idea spaces, casual “water cooler” conversations and fun activities no matter where are our team might be. Everyone shares the same time zone as our headquarters and that means we are always in-sync within our distributed team but available at any time to resolve issues or share ideas and make things happen.

Our method allows us the favor of accessibility and the centralized ability to delegate projects and manage accounts. We always take the time to get to know and celebrate every member of our team, from technical strengths to their favorite Star Wars character. We all cried when Han Solo died. We also know that, no matter what, we are all looking out for each other. So if an urgent issue needs to be resolved in the middle of the night, our team will work as a cohesive group to get it resolved in a timely manner.

That's why, when someone asks me, “Do you outsource your work?” The answer is simple, “No. we don’t. We understand what it means to provide real quality of work with the level of individual service we can stand behind. We do that by utilizing a distributed team model."

Yoel Sommer

About the author

Yoel Sommer

Co-founder and a Managing Partner at CSW Solutions. You can find Yoel on LinkedIn and Twitter.