Information Technology 6.2. Outsourcing Information Technology: Directories

Managing an organization with an outsourced IT component is not an easy matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re either comfortable or totally confused with technology; as the owner of your business with an IT infrastructure and strategy, you must master an ocean of knowledge two inches deep about that technology. You simply cannot hire, manager, or evaluate IT employees or outsource providers unless you’ve mastered the rudiments of what they do. That’s requirement number one for outsourcing IT.

And tech people tend to be, well, very fixed in their opinions. They don’t play too well with folks who don’t understand what they do. For instance, as an entrepreneur, you’re creative. You’re used to thinking in terms of goals and options. Tech people like thinking in terms of rules. You might want to achieve A, but if they don’t see a way there, you’ve got to do some of the work―especially for offshore tech help who can be positively aggravating in their lack of creativity. So outsourcing or off-shoring IT help can be like swatting a killer bee’s nest with a broom unless you have your act together.

You should follow these rules before embarking on a relationship with an outsource provider:
Understand your project―before you outsource any IT work, make sure you understand―really understand―the basics of the project or service and the technology involved that you are outsourcing. This includes―no, this REALLY INCLUDES―building your Web site. Before you even think of building something as simple as a Web site, it behooves to understand the difference between CSS, ASP, PHP, JavaScript, Ajax, JEEE, or ASP.NET. That’s right. When your outsource provider says, “Oh, that’s better done in Ruby on Rails,” you better understand what she’s saying before you answer, “Uuuhhh, okay, sure.” In section 6.1, we have provided numerous sites that help orient you in the confusing world of technology.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate―I once heard of a computer developer who was sitting in a meeting for the first time in his career and, mid-meeting, said, “This isn’t going to work.” When asked, “What isn’t going to work,” he replied, “This thing, this talking thing that we’re doing.” In outsourcing technology development or processes, nothing is more important than communication and no one is worse at communication than a tech person. Bad communication costs money, wastes time, and delivers a below-par product all the time. So you should be choosing an outsource partner as much for their communication skills as their technology skills. Any tech outsource provider or freelancer worth their salt will always explain technical terms and concepts to you if they’re looking for you to make a decision.
  • Communicate in your language―This may seem obvious, but you can achieve your greatest price reductions by off-shoring. You may also be saddled with partners who only understand a fraction of what you say. A vendor who has mastered your language―which is a non-technical language, as well — means the difference between getting real value from the relationship and flushing your money down the sewer.
  • Skill―Why don’t we place “skill” at the top of our list? Isn’t it obvious that you need folks who can do what they say they can do? Well, obviously, skill in the requisite technologies is a sine qua non for outsourcing a tech project. But it’s not worth a hill of beans if you don’t understand the project and you and your vendor can’t communicate with your vendor. You want proof of experience, including a portfolio, in the technologies that the outsource vendor is using. Here’s the thing: you don’t want to pay your outsource vendor or freelancer to learn. You’re paying them for what they already know, not what they can learn.
  • Specifications―one of the reasons it behooves you to really understand what your vendor is doing is that your project or services should have detailed specifications or requirements. These are not merely a list of the deliverables, but they lay out in great detail what those deliverables are and what they can do. It costs next to nothing to change the specs or requirements if they do not meet your needs. It costs an arm and a leg to change a partly finished or finished product. So you and your outsource/freelance partner need to get it right in the specifications stage. You should do no work with a vendor or freelancer who does not commit the time and effort to getting the specs or requirements right.
  • Production schedule―everything you do with an outsource IT vendor should involve a production or deliverables schedule. You expect the project or service to be delivered by certain dates and consequences for not meeting those dates should be written in the contracts.

Permit me to dwell a spell on requirements and specifications. The single biggest risk you face outsourcing IT is the difference between what you need and what you think you need. You never discover this difference until you actually deploy the technology or service. You turn the key, the engine starts, you take it out for a drive, and right away you say, “Wait, I want it to do this and that. It doesn’t do this, either. Hold the phone! Why doesn’t it do this, too?” Even the biggest and best companies are always faced with the fact that they have no complete understanding about how to properly do requirements. This is why it’s vital that you understand the technology, you understand what you’re trying to achieve with the technology, why you must be able to communicate well with the developer, and why the developer should have skills in that area. That reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk that your IT product or service won’t do what you need it to do.

6.2.1. Sourcingmag

Discussed in more detail in 5.1.2., Sourcingmag is an online magazine totally dedicated to issues involved in outsourcing and offshoring and includes

  • Introductions to outsourcing issues
  • A directory of outsourcing firms
  • Bookstore
  • Blogs
  • Forum

6.2.2. CIO Index

We have discussed CIO Index in more detail in section 6.1.4, but we should reiterate that the site is a valuable source of information on outsourcing and off-shoring issues in the IT sector.


Listing over 20,000 outsourcing firms, is a major international directory of outsourcing professionals. Offshoring IT categories include:

  • Programming, Software, Database
  • Website Design and Development
  • Engineering, CAD, Architecture
  • Game Design and Development
  • Networking, Hardware, Telephony


Discussed in greater detail in 5.1.4, is one of the largest directories of Indian outsourcing companies. IT categories include:

  • Engineering
  • Software design
  • Website design and development
  • Web hosting
  • E-commerce
  • Document management
  • Data management
  • Consulting
  • Mobile and wireless
  • Networking
  • Security
  • Hardware

6.2.5. Russ Soft

RUSSOFT Association is a trade association of Russian, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian software development companies. The association represents more than eighty companies with more than 7,000 highly qualified programmers and software engineers with advanced graduate level degrees in technology & computer science; these companies are the nation’s leading outsource technology providers with CMMI/ISO certification in Europe.

The site includes biased, but valuable, introductions to off-shoring software development to Russia and, most importantly, a directory of association member companies, many of whom work regularly for Fortune 500 firms.

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