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Outsourcing demands clear communication

Farm out, sit back and reap the benefits?

Outsourcing to a different country or another part of the world involves detailed specifications and a lot of interaction and communication. Failure to make clear agreements can easily lead to an end result that does not meet the requirements. When this happens, you are confronted with the arduous task of tedious discussions and in some cases you end up having to adapt the result yourself. Clear specifications and agreements are therefore imperative, and if translations are involved, these need to be equally clear and accurate. Obviously, language is a critical success factor.

The fact that outsourcing entails documentation is something everyone is aware of. First of all, at the contractual level, so that there can be no doubt as to the agreements made. Furthermore, a completely new party that has been engaged to manage and modify an application needs to know what goes where, how the application has been programmed, and whether it complies with the applicable security rules, etc. Sure enough, often there is some original documentation. But can the same be said of all those updates? Usually not, because there wasn’t enough time. After all, the work was done by permanent staff who knew the processes, so they didn’t write anything down.

The following requirement that presents itself is the language. If you want to outsource to an offshore location and the documentation is only available in Dutch, a translation will be required. The documentation involved will for the most part consist of design instructions and the technical and functional documentation, as the text will probably only be used by developers. Nevertheless, accuracy is important, as it is the small details which ensure that an application continues to run smoothly and comply with the rules. Meanwhile, a contract clause can sometimes stand or fall on a comma. Computerised translations will therefore not suffice. And in India, for example, knowledge of the Dutch language is not exactly commonplace.

That outsourcing is a way to save on costs is beyond doubt. However, in order to make savings, you first need to invest in communication concerning the outsourced activities. The documentation which is lacking needs to be written, and the documents need to be made available in the requisite language. But you don’t have the time. So, you need to a party that can quickly provide you with the services you need. You know who to call.