Overseas Outsourcing; Long Distance Relations

Prior to getting married my wife and I had a very successful long distance relationship. I was working for Merrill Lynch in Chicago and she was finishing her Physical Therapy Masters in Dallas. We didn’t have a “plan” to handle the relationship, but basically it went like this: (1) call frequently to check in just cuz, (2) fly to see each other once a month, (3) have a long conversation once or twice a week, and (4) trust the other person.

I’ve also been involved in several long distance outsourcing initiatives: India – Russia – China. I know that outsourcing can work. However, I have not yet been involved in a successful overseas outsourcing project.

The M.O. has been the same: (1) Wow, we can save a bizillion dollars by sending all development overseas to Googanda and instead of having a team of twenty, we will have over a hundred Doctors of Philosphy (2) high level executives fly to Googanda prior to any work actually commencing – they realize it is insanely expensive to get to Googanda AND Googanda isn’t a place to wine and dine, (3) the project kicks off and phone contact becomes the means to communicate, (4) everyone quickly realizes although there are ten Googandians for every previous programmer/analyst, they are about 1% as efficient, (5) everyone agrees there is a “steep learning curve” and it will take “awhile” to realize the ROI, (6) deadlines are missed, software is bad, bugs are more like dragonflys than fleas, (7) U.S. project manager disillusioned and has no confidence/trust in Googanda team, (8) Googanda PM dissilusioned, (9) failure.

So, the next time I am involved in an overseas outsourcing initiative, I am going to approach it the same way my wife and I made it work. Establish rapport with overseas PM based on FACE TIME and UNDERSTANDING of project. Spend more time overseas AFTER the project has commenced EDUCATING the developers and ANSWERING QUESTIONS in person (NOT EMAIL!). And I’m going to call and check in with my Googanda buddy just like he was my wife. I’ll encourage them to come over here and be reality stars on Fear Factor.

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