Have you ever wondered if outsourcing/offshoring is a dangerous threat to your job and by extension your livelihood? Let’s look at what some of the industry experts have to say based on studies. “In what might be an underestimate, a University of California study concludes that 14 million white-collar jobs are vulnerable to being outsourced offshore.” says Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and Author of the article The Offshore Outsourcing of American Jobs: A Greater Threat Than Terrorism published by Global Research. “These are not only call-center operators, customer service and back-office jobs, but also information technology, accounting, architecture, advanced engineering design, news reporting, stock analysis, and medical and legal services” Outsourcing/off-shoring appears to be a threat to most of our jobs. The good news is you can prepare yourself for minimal impact.

The difference between outsourcing and off-shoring

Outsourcing refers to the practice of working with third-party usually within a country to get the job done. Off-shoring refers to the practice of working with a third-party outside a country to get the job done. The major difference is off-shoring deals with overseas services. In this article, we will use the two terms interchangeably because we are looking at the effect that both have on your job.

Why organizations are opting for outsourcing/off-shoring

  • Cut down on operation costs to gain competitive advantage – outsourcing/off-shoring has proven to be cheaper. This means an organization can offer superior products at competitive prices.
  • Access to specialized skills – In the late 1990s, Visual Basic 6.0 was a hot thing then came .NET. VB.NET and C# become the next cool languages to use for development. If a company only has VB 6.0 programmers and want access to the latest technologies then they may be forced to outsource development.
  • Access to resources – firms that provide outsourcing services such as customer call center already have the infrastructure needed to get the job done etc.
  • Allow the business to focus on its core business – Let’s take Google Search as an example. The core business is to help people find relevant information. Technology is a tool that they use to achieve first. Google Search is always working on its search algorithms to make them better. If you want to compete with Google Search on a limited budget, you may want to focus on development a better search algorithm and outsource the programming work to someone who is experienced.

Well-known individual/companies that outsourced development successfully

  • AppSumo - AppSumo is a daily deals website for digitally distributed goods and online services. AppSumo was originally created by an outsourced team from Pakistan. After the initial success, the app was re-written Sources
  • Fab - Fab is an e-commerce company founded in 2010. Once estimated at a worth of over 1 billion dollars, in November 2014, the company was rumoured to be in talks to sell for 15 million. Fab started out by outsourcing development to a team in India True Sparrow. Fab eventually bought True Sparrow. Sources
  • Developer Bob – He outsourced his job to a Chinese consulting while he watched videos of cats and enjoyed social media. His performance review noted him as the best developer in the building

What you can do to protect your job, outsmart outsourcing and secure your future.

job_security 1. There is more to products than just coding, know the product inside out– Look at things from your customers’ perspective.
  1. What problem(s) are they trying to solve?
  2. Can you find a better and easier way of doing it?
  3. Is your product solving the problem?
  4. What are the alternative solutions to the problem that you are solving?
The above questions will help you understand what you are doing and this is not something that can easily be outsourcing to a development team. Even if the organization decided to outsource the development, your knowledge of the problem and solutions will make you a vital member of the team that sets the specifications and does product reviews etc. 2. Keep an eye on new technologies and learn new skills - Let’s take PHP programmers. MVC frameworks are cool and CodeIgniter ruled the earth once. Now we have Laravel as the cool MVC framework. Updating your skills will ensure when your organization decides to switch to a modern framework i.e. Laravel framework, you will be covered. If you write iOS apps using Objective C then you might need to learn Swift programming language. VB 6.0 Programmers will definitely need to Learn VB.NET or C#. 3. Get to know who your customers are and if you can, develop a relationship with them – while, we all know what happened when Reddit fired Victoria Taylor, Reddit went into chaos. The point is not to create chaos for your company when you leave. Get to know, understand, and help meet their needs and they will appreciate your work. This makes you almost indispensable. 4. Adapt a development methodology that helps the company lower costs – this is a major reason why most companies choose to outsource. Extreme Programming (XP) is one such methodology whose main goal is to lower the cost of change in software requirements. The point is get creative and find ways that help the company cut down on costs. 5. Take advantage of networking, use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social network. You can create a professional LinkedIn profile and have people endorse you for skills that you are comp. Most recruiters use LinkedIn when hiring. Right endorsements from the right connections will make it easy for you to find work. 6. If you can’t beat them then join them - Consider working as a freelancer. Sites like Freelancer, Elance etc. are some of the great sites where people go to outsource many jobs including development. You can create an account and work on side projects. If you are really good and impress your virtual employees then they may make it a long term thing. This is also a great way to increase your income.

Bottom Line

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Your job is more than working for a company. It’s about developing great solutions that solve problems, it’s about developing relationships with your customers, and it’s about having a steady income that takes care of your bills.