Thursday, August 05, 2010


The Secret Relationship between Enterprise Architecture and Outsourcing: Part Three

Many believe that enterprise architecture is all about strategy & planning where outsourcing tends to focus on software development and/or operations. This level of abstraction hides many considerations. The touchpoints are much deeper than the handoffs as you transition into the software development lifecycle...

The vast majority of enterprise architects have never thought deeply about how they can make their employer more successful in outsourcing work to other countries. In my experience, outsourcing fails because there may not be an adequate feedback loop into future strategy and planning.

One of the worst practices is to believe the hype that an outsourcing firm has the same capabilities for delivering as an in-house team. Common sense may dictate that someone who has been in the same enterprise for twenty years will obviously know many things better than someone in another location who knows nothing about your culture and may even be considered a senior developer even though they have been in IT for only three years.

Let's face it, the skillset of the average offshore resource is lower and therefore your strategies must adjust to accomodate. Anyone can take a team of experienced people and lead them to a successful outcome, but it takes not only a thoughtful strategy that acknowledges a reduced skillset but also a team that is willing to do the emotional labor required to make outsourcing work.

It is painfully obvious that way too many employees complain about the lack of skills in the outsourcing firms, but this is simply stating the obvious. What enterprise architecture teams need to noodle is how to help those who may not yet be capable of running on their own be successful.

The strategy of outsourcing is liking teaching your five year old how to ride a bicycle. There will be many accidents, bruises, cuts and scrapes but sooner or later they will learn to ride a bicycle. Maybe in ten or so years, they may even be world champion cyclists.

The journey to successful outsourcing is long and in order for it to be successful requires the enterprise architecture team to commit to long term strategies and emotional labor in order to make it successful. The definition of long term in this context may require thinking past five years...

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