Outsourcing: No longer a dirty word
A decade ago, IT developers cringed at the mention of outsourcing any part
of the application development process, fearing the loss of full-time work.
Development managers also avoided outsourcing, apprehensive that ceding control
over the building of critical applications would dilute any competitive advantage
from proprietary applications. All secrets must be kept in-house was the slogan.
If outsourcers were contracted, IT generally relegated them to maintenance projects.
Fast forward to 1999. A tight labor market and rapidly emerging complex technologies
are now forcing organizations to spend huge sums to find top-notch developers.
The constant developer turnover is causing projects to be delayed or killed.
Consequently, many IT organizations are starting to view outsourcing as a
key piece of any development strategy. As a matter of fact, as Rich Seeley and
Jack Vaughan point out in this month's Cover Story ["IT
to outsourcers: 'Help!'], GartnerGroup's Dataquest unit is projecting that
the worldwide IT services market will grow to $630 billion by 2002. Experts
outsourcing is no longer a dirty word.
Notwithstanding, just as the early fears of outsourcers were exaggerated,
say outsourcers will be hired on to build, implement and even integrate applications.
As the authors note, outsourcers can provide top programmers without having
to go through an exhaustive and expensive hiring process. These groups can reduce
the ever-expanding backlog of IT development applications. For many companies,
so are some of the motivations for turning to outsiders today. If development
managers do decide to turn to outsourcing, the process must be done deliberately.
Not all service organizations are created equally. Some are better than others,
so a careful screening process must be performed. And managers must retain overall
control of projects and outsourcers alike. To relinquish too much control to
outsiders can be very dangerous or even fatal.
This month also features a look at the ever-expanding application server phenomenon.
Max P. Grasso, Bharat Gogia and Hoa Nguyen -- from consulting firm NetNumina
Solutions -- step back to look at the state of application servers today ("Application
servers unmasked,"). For a variety of reasons, the definition of an application
server has evolved quickly over the past couple of years -- almost to the point
of meaning all things to all people. The authors clarify this definition, while
explaining how the right application server technology can build e-business
systems. This is a must read in these confusing times.
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.