Is Your Job at Risk of Being Outsourced?

IT professionals need to recognize if their jobs are prime candidates for outsourcing and how to minimize that risk. Our Datamation columnist offers some strategies.
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It's almost impossible to pick up an IT trade magazine today without seeing something about job outsourcing. While far from a new phenomenon, outsourcing is generating a huge amount of stress on employees concerned about losing their jobs. For those anxious IT pros, here are some thoughts to consider.

You must be aware of the pressures being placed not just on your firm, but also on the environment in which it operates. This can help you understand both what is going on and what is likely to happen. Firms under extreme pressure to cut costs may act irrationally to meet short-term objectives.

Jobs that can be partitioned off from the rest of the local organization are prime candidates for outsourcing. Of course, the current media fad is to talk about offshore outsourcing, but it can be outsourcing to a firm across town -- either way, you are out of a job. Thus, be aware of what your field of work entails.

For example, if someone else does all of the project management, engineering and then you just get handed a list of requirements to develop/build to, then your position is a candidate for outsourcing because it has already been abstracted from the business.

Mitigating factors include the degree of confidentiality that surrounds what you work on. If your work involves the development of products and/or services that are unique to the firm and create a competitive advantage that the firm dare not abandon or lose control of, then the risk of outsourcing decreases.

With this basic concept of confidentiality and compartmentalization in mind, we can construct four quadrants:

  • High Confidentiality and Low Compartmentalization
    Functions in this category dare not be outsourced. Not only are they proprietary processes that necessitate confidentiality, but the linkages between the function and other areas are poorly defined or even non-existent. Outsourcing this risks project failure and intellectual property leakage.

  • High Confidentiality and High Compartmentalization
    The potential exists to outsource, but extreme caution must be observed. Here, the processes are mature, but the intellectual property in question is very confidential. Thus, the risk of leakage of that property must be the question of the day. Dare the firm risk letting this functionality leave its direct control?

  • Low Confidentiality and Low Compartmentalization
    The risk here involves relatively poor-to-nonexistent linkages between departments. In other words, the issue surrounds the fact that the function cannot be packaged and removed for the locale.

  • Low Confidentiality and High Compartmentalization
    These functions are prime candidates for outsourcing. Not only are the products/services provided relatively commoditized, but the functionality is easily removed from the locale.
  • Want to discuss the issues raised in this column? Take it over to our IT Management Forum.


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