Skype and Outsourcing

The Hidden Costs of Outsourcing

By the time you read this, I will have returned from my paid, paid vacation: a quick trip to Daytona with a buddy for the 500 followed by meeting up with my family in Orlando for a week of Disney World.

As I scratch out my thoughts while killing time on my flight to Daytona, I can’t help but think of one of the things I will most look forward to upon my return to work. (Probably not the way to start a vacation, right?)

On Outsourcing

Since the earliest days of FullContact, we have always had a small outsourced development team. We’ve relied on them heavily: in the early days, that team accounted for 99+ percent of our daily code committed. Over time, we haven’t altered the size of the outsourced team, but as we’ve grown, it now accounts for effectively less than 15 percent of our overall team.

In spite of all the benefits to our team, there are unexpected costs. To start with, schedules:

For the past 30 months, my day (Sunday through Thursday) has ended spending from 30 minutes to two hours on Skype orchestrating progress for FullContact with guys in a timezone an awkward 12.5 hours ahead of mine. I’ve conservatively spent 750 hours of my life (early morning or late night) on Skype with India in the past two and-a-half years, with the only real break being holidays or vacation.

From time to time I get asked why I made the commitment. It’s a pretty simple answer: because it works. And, as a co-founder, because startups aren’t an eight to five job. You can make outsourcing work well – which is a topic for a different day – but it doesn’t and will not come without commitment from your teams (both US and abroad). Our small team from India has provided incredible progress to our products over that period, and have provided real value to FullContact.

Bridging the Gap

Another unexpected cost: working with a team you’ve never met can be tough for all parties.

Upon my return from vacation, our team from India is going to be in the US to work out of our office for two to three months. I’m excited to meet the guys that I have spent countless hours working with over the past two and-a-half years. Our goal is to incorporate them even deeper into the fabric that is our company.

Salil and Sachin, welcome to the States…and thank you for your commitment to FullContact!

(And for me, I’m going to figure out how to readjust to life where I don’t have an hour-long call scheduled five nights a week!)

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