How to turn outsourcing into an opportunity

When you first hear that your organisation plans to outsource IT projects offshore, it's difficult to look on the bright side. If you're like most people, your initial reaction will probably be to worry about your job security and start looking into other employment prospects. However, if you choose to embrace outsourcing rather than resist it, you will have the chance to benefit from a prime opportunity for career advancement.

Most organisations use offshore outsourcing to extend -- not replace -- the existing IT team. If you find yourself in this situation, outsourcing actually affords you the opportunity to redefine your role and focus on the aspects of your work that you enjoy the most -- but only if you take a proactive approach.

As soon as you learn that your organisation plans to outsource IT projects you're involved with, start thinking about what tasks and responsibilities you would like to offload and determining whether it would be logistically feasible for an outsourcer to take them on. For instance, it might be a better use of resources to outsource legacy code maintenance or other necessary but mundane tasks that don't require your current level of expertise. It is critical that you take the initiative to do this yourself; if you wait for management to decide what to outsource, you may end up with little control over your future at the organisation.

If you successfully convince the appropriate decision-makers to redistribute work as you recommend, outsourcing frees your resources so you can dedicate more efforts to key project tasks or get the ball rolling on new projects. This additional opportunity for innovation is a win-win situation for both you and your organisation: It helps you advance your career and improve your job satisfaction at the same time it helps your company move (or remain) ahead of its competitors.

To further bolster your job security, make yourself a critical link between your new focus and the responsibilities you're offloading. Configure projects so that the code the outsourcer develops or maintains fits seamlessly into your code. Volunteer to help review and monitor the code that's being outsourced. And last but certainly not least, work closely with the outsourcer to foster a mutually beneficial relationship.

Adam Kolawa is co-founder and CEO of Parasoft, a vendor of automated error-prevention software and services based in Monrovia, Calif. Co-author of Bulletproofing Web Applications (Hungry Minds 2001), Kolawa has contributed to and written more than 200 commentary pieces and technical articles for numerous publications. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology.

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