To be or not to be… outsourced

No disputing the facts, it’s a global economy. Our cars are from Germany, our kitchen ovens from Italy, our mobiles from China and our polo shirts from Peru. But as a business owner, you may want to think twice about outsourcing your product development, especially if the project requires a consultative or creative element.

Recently, our firm reached out to companies, both domestically and abroad, to complete a myriad of different projects. The assignments ranged from mobile-optimized website design to mobile application development and graphic design.

Here were the issues we faced when working with companies abroad:

  1. Communication Barrier – In our experience, the programmers and designers do not speak English, so your communication is relegated to liaison, barely comfortable with conversational English. Don’t count on them to understand emotion, feeling, or anticipate the end-user experience as you do.
  2. Timeline – While all of the firms that we communicated with understood timetables, delivering a completed and working product by the agreed upon deadline is something else entirely. Ever seen this t-shirt, “I not late, I say on Hawaiian time?” For those who have not, “Hawaiian time” endearingly refers to being tardy or running late. As a project manager, you may want to give yourself a couple of extra weeks to see the project through if you plan to outsource.
  3. Customer Service – In the States, we tip waiters and hotel desk clerks. We give holiday gifts to postmen, cleaning folks and gardeners. Abroad, it’s a different story. In our dealings with overseas technology and design firms, there’s no way to tip or to show gratitude. The contact is simply an order-taker and is not responsible for any element of the project – your contact is simply an interpreter, communicating your message to the design team, and likewise their limitations and suggestions to you and your staff.

The Takeaway – Delivering a message through an interpreter is as convenient as it is limited. The amount of home grown qualified personnel is overflowing, however, the appeal of outsourcing a project is dollars and cents and what ultimately costs a domestic worker his wage.

Ultimately, we were turned off by our communication with overseas firms. These firms lacked the same courtesy and relationship-building rapport that we favor here stateside. Our intention is to grow with a firm and to leverage their skill set for multiple applications. Simply put, we were treated like a fling and wanted something more long-term.

Disagree with us? Here are some resources for outsourcing the aforementioned projects:


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About William Stern

William, Managing Director in charge of business development and human capital, serves on the firm's executive steering committee. William's expertise in sales and organizational management has helped the firm exceed ambitious growth targets year after year. William is devoted to building infrastructure, eradicating inefficiencies, and developing new products and services that keep Cardiff a dynamic force within its markets. One of William's many initiatives has been to increase Cardiff's footprint across the US, penetrating new markets while building stronger relationships with current partners. Before joining Cardiff, William worked for TD Waterhouse as a Learning and Development Counselor for their burgeoning discount brokerage division. Following TDW, William held a key business development post in the Commercial Equipment Finance Division of a California-based leasing company helping to expand market share and annual sales through direct marketing to middle market companies seeking equipment financing and leasing. To learn more about capital markets, both foreign and domestic, William moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue a career with Fisher Investments (FI) as an Investment Counselor in their Private Client Group. William received two degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Castillian Spanish Literature and Political Science from Revelle College at the University of California, San Diego.