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What should one look for, when choosing a nearshoring partner?

date: 3 September 2020
reading time: 6 min

Without a doubt, the months and years to come will be a period of large, if not enormous changes for many types of industry. While the previous crises, at least partially comparable to the results of the existing pandemic, have proven that, due to its dynamical nature, the IT industry adjusts swiftly to the new reality.

It too surely experiences numerous new phenomena, including the acceleration of digital transformation or increasing growth of attention towards outsourcing. It is advisable to be prepare your business for these already.

Elementary knowledge regarding outsourcing trends is the ability to identify advantages of delegating workflow depending on the distance between partners. For many, outsourcing may be associated with engaging in collaboration with companies that operate in distant countries. Distant in every aspect: not just physical, but also cultural, and at times, economic. During recent years, numerous companies have discovered, that nearshoring may be a much better solution, e.g. taking advantage of services provided by companies from neighbouring countries. Let us turn our attention to the advantages coming from such an approach towards selecting IT partners.

Comfortable communication and high quality support 

The existing pandemic will be like a cold shower to many companies, if they had not previously developed effective communication mechanisms and remote work organisation, with the use of advanced digital tools that offer plentiful possibilities. Obviously, companies that take advantage of outsourcing have already rich experience in the area, however, that does not mean that they are free of inapparent challenges that appear ahead of them in communication with partners. Here, we do not simply speak of cultural aspects, that are reduced to a large degree by the world dominance of the Anglo-Saxon corporate culture, but also of… time.

In case of delegating workflow in IT, to far reaches of the globe, amounting to thousands or tens of thousands kilometres, time lag may be quite a difficulty. While, asynchronous communication methods may be in use, holding a videoconferencing session for a group of people, when it is necessary, may prove difficult. The issue does not apply to nearshoring, as in the decisive majority of cases, partners will find themselves in neighbouring time zones, or even, in the same time zone. Although it may seem like a petty issue at first glance, it should not be neglected.

We are not simply speaking of communication, but also of support and maintenance. Here too, operating in a close time zone will have a direct impact on the availability of services provided by the partner. While implementation works are conducted at night hours anyway, support provided at night by a partner from the antipodes will be of little help to us. Surely the availability of maintenance services and high quality of technical support should be a major factor in selecting a partner.

Identical approach towards security norms

However, let us pass on to the technical aspects of collaboration within the scope of outsourcing. Decades of experience demonstrate, that in essence, the only efficient method of protection from cyberthreats is norm implementation. Experts develop standards of proceeding in cases of incidents, perfecting all IT processes in terms of security. Due to the fact, companies may implement proven knowledge, and take advantage of already acquired experience, without experimenting in fragile issues like the configuration of cloud services, or the network infrastructure, based solely on the knowledge of own administration team.

An example of the catastrophic results of not complying with the security procedures as assumed in norms, was the Petya/NotPetya ransomware campaign in 2017. At the time, the developer of the M.E.Doc software used in Ukrainian administration and business (including international business), did not fulfil all security measures regarding own infrastructure which was penetrated by hackers. The supply chain was taken over, and, through a trusted update channel, companies from France, Germany, Poland or Great Britain, would receive ransomware software. Enough to say, that the transport giant Maersk alone, estimated their losses at about 300 million dollars.

The key issue in choosing offshore partner should be the certainty, that they comply with the security norms established in a given region, implement the resolutions of all regulations regarding the subject matter successively, and conduct internal audits on a regular basis by means of third-party companies. Usually the rules are set out regionally, e.g. nearshoring to Poland allows customers from the entire European Union to operate in the same region, regarding the approach towards cybersecurity. Additionally, one cannot omit the fact, that compliance in many other issues is necessary in terms of personal data security as regulated by GDPR.

Guarantee that partners think of quality in a similar manner 

A notion that the quality of performed work should be the decisive factor in selecting a nearshoring partner, may sound as a cliché. The thing is, the quality should be currently perceived within the broader context of ongoing changes. Flattening the extrapolation of the curve showing a number of transistors in an integrated circuit, also known as Moore’s law, clearly shows, that currently, the quality of produced code is a strategic issue, as we will not be able to hope for exponentially increasing hardware capabilities of workstations in the future. Code will have to be better, and more optimised.

Additionally, let us add an issue of the crisis x86 architecture, which primarily affects data centres, where currently, in the cloud computing era, increasing numbers of data loads are being processed. One can hope that the pandemic will function as a catalyst: companies will no longer be so eager to invest in own local infrastructure, and will turn to the cloud which is scalable and estimated proportionally to resource use. However, cloud is primarily based on x86 architecture servers.

Hardware vulnerabilities of the Spectre/Meltdown class, that are impossible to patch up (patches constitute solely mitigations), cause that once in a few, or over a dozen weeks, data centre servers slow down by a small percent. However, in summary, since the reveal of Spectre/Meltdown in January 2018, data centres have already slowed down by approximately 16%. In result, the aforementioned quality of developed code and its optimisation, will play a definitively larger role in the future. Therefore, the best outsourcing partner, will be the one who not only possesses experts with the best skills, but also, effective Q&A procedures.

Good questions to ask

During the selection of software outsourcing partner, one should follow a multi-level overview regarding the needs of companies, and the capabilities of satisfying them. However, one should not omit fundamental issues, that may translate to the execution of strategic endeavours. One of these issues is definitely cybersecurity. Therefore, when choosing an IT partner, ask whether your potential IT partner meets the most strict norms in this field, along with norms on security audits.

Another issue, may be the quality of developed software, which, in the nearby future, will be a problem much more significant than in recent years, as the capacity of workstations and servers will no longer increase as fast as now. Therefore, is the partner able to execute delegated tasks, caring about the highest quality and best practices of software development?

Organisation matters are no less important, not only due to the possible increase of communication efficiency, but primarily, due to the availability of provided support, and capable execution of maintenance works. Times, when software once developed (e.g. mainframe) could efficiently work for decades, are long gone. Is the partner able to provide high quality technical support, and provide fixes when necessary?

There are a lot of aspects to discuss with your potential IT partner as choosing a nearshoring company has a great impact on the project success. Here’s our free RFP template that will help you to decide with who you’ll develop your product. Hope you’ll find it handy!

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