Debunking the notion that IT projects are better placed offshore

For years the IT industry has increasingly been moving IT projects offshore, or at least near-shore, in an attempt to reduce costs, outsource issues and achieve a more flexible project team – often citing the skills gap in the UK as a reason for doing so. But is this move really as effective as you may have been lead to believe?

Are offshore IT teams really more flexible?

With the digital revolution in full effect, IT systems have become an integral part of modern day businesses, helping improve the efficiency of their operations in order to achieve higher profitability. As companies strive to utilise available technology, IT projects are getting bigger – with even the most minor of IT failures having the potential to cause serious disruption. If businesses wish their IT projects to be implemented smoothly, within budget and on time, to avoid the risk of falling behind their competitors, it is essential that they have access to round the clock IT teams.

It’s a common misconception that the only way to achieve this kind of support is by moving the project offshore, where shift work is more culturally acceptable. There is no reason, however, why 24 hour support can’t be available in the UK. By having a flexible onshore IT team working 7.5 hours a day, around the clock, rather than the traditional 9am-5pm, businesses will no longer be faced with gaps in support due to out-of-office hours.

Having this support within a close geographical proximity has its benefits as well. Taking a trip to Asia or even across Europe, is neither convenient nor economical for a UK company, which discourages the face-to-face interaction that, while not essential on a daily basis, can become critical if a project begins to veer off track.

More bang for your buck

When it comes to the matter of service quality, it is likely that an offshore or even a near-shore team may be less experienced in the specific development or market area the business is seeking. This, combined with potential language and cultural barriers, means that tighter project management and oversight will be required which could result in extra work and an increase in the cost of the overall project. While it is true that an IT worker based in Asia will probably charge less per hour than their onshore counterpart, the service advantages brought about by an on-shore team with the appropriate experience enables companies to employ far smaller teams. This means that, in fact, there is no reason why an onshore IT team should cost any more than an offshore team.

There are other potential issues to consider when moving a project either offshore or near-shore, security, for example, can be a huge issue and could cost an organisation dearly if a breach was to occur. It’s no secret that many countries abroad, most notably in Central and Eastern Asia, have less stringent laws and legislation relating to intellectual property and data protection. Earlier this year it was reported that three employees of an Indian company outsourced by TalkTalk, had been arrested for stealing data and using the information to con customers out of thousands of pounds. While breaches can happen anywhere, there is less likelihood of it happening in the UK, where the legislation is not only stronger to begin with, but is enforced far more rigorously.

Bridging the UK IT skills gap

The UK IT skills gap is one of the main driving forces behind companies moving their IT projects offshore. But is this justified? With the right approach, UK IT companies can generate a more sophisticated IT workforce, close the UK skills gap, and create a more prosperous economy by keeping IT projects onshore – something that will benefit both businesses and end-users across the UK.

All it takes is for companies to provide adequate training and development programmes for their employees to ensure that they have the skills and experience required to implement the necessary IT projects that businesses need in today’s digital climate.

Getting all the benefits of offshore onshore

Smaller on-shore teams with the relevant experience and knowledge needed for a UK project mean that labour costs can be kept equivalent to either offshore or near-shore. The introduction of a flexible onshore IT team working 7.5 hour shifts round the clock gives companies the same support they would experience offshore with the added bonus of having the option to meet face-to-face should the situation call for it. Finally with the appropriate training and development, by IT companies, can also correct any skills gap they identify. By bringing all these elements together, a new approach to IT projects is created; one that achieves all the benefits associated with moving IT projects offshore - or even near-shore - yet is perfectly viable within the UK.

Bhuwan Kaushik, CEO, Spectromax Solutions Ltd