This week it was revealed that a US software developer has been caught outsourcing his job, which has been earning him a six-figure salary. Working from home, he had spent his days browsing Reddit and YouTube, whilst a Chinese software company had been working under a contract with him to carry out his work. He was paying them only a fraction of his annual wage.
While this is completely fraudulent, it throws up some very interesting debates on the nature of outsourcing. Both SMEs and larger enterprises often do not have the capacity to run all aspects of their own business, or it simply doesn’t make financial sense, and so look elsewhere to have the work carried out contractually. IT departments especially are often entirely outsourced to individuals or companies offsite or even abroad. This enables companies to have a far wider reach than their headcount or talent pool of full-time employees can offer. But when this chain extends and expands, it can be at the expense of efficiency. In a world where time is money, decisions and directions can end up taking longer, and company core values become more difficult to stick to.
Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and self styled “serial entrepreneur and ultravagabond”, offers a step-by-step guide on how to outsource your entire life using overseas ‘virtual assistants.’ He describes his personal story of how he streamlined both his personal and work life, enabling him to add more zeros to his salary, as well as spending the majority of his life on holiday. While you family may not appreciate birthday cards written by your Indian personal assistant ‘Honey’, I certainly know a few people who would see the immediate benefits in this. However, somewhere along the way the line blurs between having an assistant do a bit of extra research for you for a short article, to defrauding your company and opening up security breaches.
The fact is companies will always rely on each other to provide services they are experts in, companies that can do things better, quicker or cheaper than one can do in house. Good working relationships are key, where both sides are clear and open with each other on what they require and expect, as well as a good understanding of the business itself.