(and how we fixed them)
That might sound a bit odd coming from a company that specializes in outsourced services - but hey, we’ve got to reckon with the facts.
Maybe it’s more accurate to say that if mishandled, outsourcing can be a source of profound frustration, distended project timelines and ill-spent resources.
Of course, recognizing the common reasons why outsourced projects fail is the first step towards building ones that don’t.
So, even from the earliest days of Lineate, we knew we’d have to apply our obsession for problem-solving to the issues inherent in outsourcing. So, we did. And it worked.
Let’s dive into the three major problems companies tend to run into when outsourcing work (and we’ll spill on how we solved them.)
Major Problem #1
Soft skills aren’t just a nice-to-have - they’re integral to the success of any project.
Now, most companies recognize this when it comes to hiring in-house talent.
Case in point: 92% of hiring professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. What’s more, 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills.
And that’s somewhat understandable, right? After all, soft skills are harder to assess than technical skills. Plus, when you’re looking to outsource work to technical specialists, you aren't hiring a peer for life - it’s often short-term. So a lack of soft skills can feel like an acceptable place to lower the bar.
BUT that’s a false economy. When you’re trusting an outsider to deliver critical, specialized work (that you don't necessarily have the expertise to manage or measure), that’s when the importance of soft skills rises, not falls.
If your outsourced team doesn’t have the emotional intelligence, communication skills, good judgement and practical creativity that it takes to deliver an outstanding project while working alongside your in-house team? The options are to push through the dysfunction, scrap the project, or roll the dice on another company.
We hire for curiosity. We hire for self-awareness. We hire for a love of collaborative problem-solving.
From Day 1 of onboarding a new hire, we’re developing their soft skill set. We know that soft skills are a crucial ingredient for skilled specialists performing well. You simply can't isolate expertise from empathy in outsourcing - you need the hard stuff (deep domain knowledge) and the soft stuff (being a cultural chameleon).
Sometimes, when we’re planning out a project, the client will voice reservations about how their internal team will respond to working with a bunch of strangers.
Honestly? Our customers’ in-house teams are often our loudest champions. Our people help them produce excellence in areas where they may not be trained. We take on complex tasks they don’t have time to tackle. It’s not uncommon to see the two teams form a genuine bond.
Major Problem #2
The decentralized nature of outsourcing means that projects are often faced with speed bumps - issues that bog down the pace of collaborative work.
Granted, as the world continues a hefty pivot towards remote work, we’re all kinda getting better at it. However - there are levels to the remote collaboration game.
Say, for example - if your outsourced and in-house teams are coordinating across time zones. Your people run into a high-impact blocker at 4PM local time, but your outsourced team is off the clock. If neither team is prepared for asynchronous problem-solving, it can devolve into a staggered back-and-forth effort that weighs down the pace of your project and puts deadline stress on everyone involved.
Or sometimes, there’s a change in business need that requires a deft pivot on an aspect of the project. Communicating that initiative across asynchronous teams can eat away at time. Taking the relevant issues and distilling them into cold, hard tasks that the outsourced devs can work with could almost be a job unto itself... *cue foreshadowing*
We begin projects by maximizing overlapping time - gently leaning our schedules towards hours that fit our client best. As time passes and that becomes less necessary, we implement a tried-and-true format of regular asynchronous standups.
Across the U.S., we have a growing team of Lineate Architects: tech-savvy customer liaisons who are perpetually available. They act as the link between real-time needs and asynchronous dev work. And not only are they technically proficient in their own right, they translate customer needs into tech-speak so devs can respond without delay.
We know what works in terms of remote collaboration because we’ve experienced, first-hand and painfully, what doesn’t.
Major Problem #3
So, what happens when the actual skills of your outsourced team don’t match up to the requirements of the project?
What if they’re prepared to offer boilerplate solutions for a project that requires custom architecture, custom data pipelining, custom thinking?
What if the needs of the project grow beyond the outsourced team’s technical capabilities?
And what if your time spent hand-holding is more trouble than it’s worth?
Again, this is where the soft skills and intangibles like a capacity for problem-solving add up. Companies can find out the hard way that technical expertise isn’t always what it says on the tin.
Head-banging, ultra-complex software problems - they’re kind of our thing. That means not only applying our team’s world-class technical expertise, but knowing how and where it’s best applied.
Our Lockstep™ method means we go DEEP into the details of your project. You won’t find a trace of one-size-fits-all in our methodology.
The time we spend with you in discovery accelerates everything. More than just brainstorming the technical details - we immerse ourselves in how your business works. This lets us quickly go from a high-level proposal to a superbly precise plan.
Oh, and we don’t consider a project a success unless it’s truly future-proof. High standards? You betcha.
You’ve heard the old axiom: good code is documented out. We take that a few dozen steps further. We’re not just talking a few comments - we keep our processes recorded, tasks documented, plan changes marked out.
Simply put: we want your internal team to understand what we’ve built once we’ve left. Building out from what we’ve crafted should be easy. Even if we’re not the ones tasked with future work - we care that whoever undertakes it has a clear trail to follow.
Maybe the scope of the project exceeds the bandwidth of your personnel. Maybe it requires a specific technical knowledge and experience set. Or maybe the project is just really f***ing hard.
Either way, outsourcing is the right move for certain projects. But you need a partner that not only recognizes the pitfalls of outsourcing, but builds across them.Get in touch now