Let’s Start a Discussion

It’s been a while since Tom posted his outsourcing rant: Twenty Hard Truths. So, since our website now has comment capability, we thought it would be a good idea to start up the discussion again. Especially as it’s about two weeks to the web seminar with Tom and Dan Pink called Outsource-proof Your Career.

We’ve heard from many of you who want to comment on this subject. Here’s your chance to tell the world. This excerpt from an email we received from Eric Wroolie in the UK should start the ball rolling nicely:

Before I re-invented myself as a software developer, I was a soldier in the US Army. I was a Chinese linguist, in fact. Now, six years later, I have a very high salary as a contractor (serving mainly investment banks).

Last year, while I was between contracts, I started contacting IT firms in China—using my language skills. I was astounded by the high quality of these companies and the low rates they could charge for the work they do. The average hourly rate was between $10 and $20 for developers of my skill. Everyone I spoke to at these Chinese companies spoke English. They all had a very good grasp of technology. I foresaw the decline (or at least the severe devaluing) of my profession.

As a result, offshoring was big on my mind. I told every developer I met what I had learned. I told them that we must distinguish ourselves (and learning a new development language like C++ was no longer the way to add to our value). I told them that they should develop a second skill. A project management course would be ideal.

What thanks did I get for sharing this information? None. My entire profession is in denial.

I hear every excuse in the book about why their jobs can’t be outsourced. “You don’t get the same quality.” “They don’t have the same standards.” “The language barrier is too great.” Some guys even got very aggressive with me—as if I personally was going to take their jobs away.

I’ve begun looking out for myself. I set up my own company—Overpass, see www.overpass.co.uk, laying the groundwork for when my current skills are no longer needed. I have established relationships with outsourcing companies in China, India, Russia, and Romania.

I’m starting small, but I’m starting. It may grow. It may fail. But I’m not waiting for this ship to sink.

Here is a list of future professions that current developers could market themselves as:

1. Code Reviewer (someone to make sure an organization’s offshored work meets the standards of a company)
2. Project Manager (someone who can talk to developers—former software-coding PMs are rare in my experience)
3. Offshore development liaison
4. Systems Designer (not coder)

I’m sure there are others. There is incredible opportunity out there for those who want to accept the changes ahead.

Comments, anyone?

Cathy Mosca posted this on August 4, 2004, in Brand You.
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