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On our previous posts we have talked about lack of effective communication as one of the major pitfalls that exist whenever a company is looking for a nearshore or offshore IT Services partner. So what should that company do about this? Here are some simple pointers that should be considered when looking into IT outsourcing:
First word of advice: If in initial conversations you find that you cannot communicate with your IT services vendor, no matter how technically savvy they might seem to you, please take heed, and run like the plague.
Second word of advice: Make sure that in initial conversations you ask "what do you think?". If you do not see an attitude of the IT services or software development vendor being able to think for themselves, to be able to convince with their own ideas or approach, be careful... it might be an indication of a lack of a proactive culture in that particular IT outsourcing firm.
Third word of advice: Describe an IT software problem to the company but keep what you thinks is a potential answer to yourself. Then ask them, "how would you proceed?" Make sure you ask this in a context where managers and engineers from your IT outsourcing vendor are present, and watch for how freely engineers can express themselves when the managers are also there.
Fourth word of advice: Openly ask what the IT outsourcing company's culture and values are with respect to communication. At PSL, for example, we explicitly champion a culture where: Ideas come first, regardless of who says them –if the junior had the spark, then the junior's idea is implemented. Mistakes are treasures that need to be socialized and learned from so that others who have not yet committed them never will. The truth is king, even when it is unpleasant –raise red flags early! And, when you raise a red flag, socialize it, so that others don't make the same mistakes you made. Remember, software development is a team effort! Groups are co-responsible for their own performance. Software developers, for example, can say to our COO: "our PM is not working for us, we need him / her changed"
Fifth word of advice: Ask the leaders of the IT outsourcing vendor what they look for when they hire a new employee. This can tell you a lot about the company, and how its seeks employees that are open to communicate and interact constructively. At PSL, for example: