To offshore or not: Making the decision to ‘go local’

Offshore or not

Should you use offshore service providers for IT and other services which can be “globalized” with ease? ?The answer, as for most business and marketing issues, is “it depends”. I’ve discussed this issue in one of the many blog posts that disappeared into the ether over the Christmas holidays. The question at hand, and one which I needed to resolve quickly, is this: “Should I contract the recovery work to offshore providers, or use a Canadian (or possibly American) service provider.

Historically, I’ve had mixed experiences with offshore providers. In a few cases, I’ve received incredibly competent work, at truly low cost. In others, the results could only be considered disastrous.

In this situation, the challenge is to search through cached “old” blog postings and recover them. The word for this sort of activity is “scraping” and most of the time, the businesses who do this sort of thing are up to no good. They are stealing others’ Internet content for their own purposes. Google tries to restrain the scraping by building controls — but the scrapers are often a step ahead. As I researched the challenge, I discovered programs which can do the job but they require more technical expertise and equipment than I could consider using. (Of course, I am simply recovering my own work, so this is one of the few ethical uses of scraping programs and technologies.)

So I sought out contractors using two services: and Elance traditionally has served fixed bid contracts, and odesk is more known for hourly work contractors. Of course, just as you can go to the grocery store to have your prescriptions filled, and buy groceries in the traditional drugstore these days, both services overlap with their service offerings. ?Since I though the work would best be quoted on an hourly schedule rather than fixed rate cost, I thought odesk would work better. However, much to my surprise, nine bidders emerged from Elance and only one arose from odesk.

The next challenge: Choosing the finalist. Most of the bids congregated around a rough quote of $350 to $400 — but one provider in India offered services for about $200. Meanwhile, much to my surprise, a Canadian offered services at the same hourly rate as the offshore providers — and provided a quote within the norm of $350 to $400 range. Unlike the offshore providers, the Canadian didn’t have much experience with, but he appeared knowledgeable. I asked questions, and shared assignment parameters to ensure both of the finalists knew what they were doing.

So, should I choose the Canadian who wants $350 or the offshore provider who would do it for $200? On the level of strict cash economics, the lower price seemed to be somewhat better — but this is a one-off task, with some urgency, and the difference of about $150 wouldn’t make much difference in our business survival.

I decided to poll readers for their thoughts and (not surprisingly) the majority said I should use the Canadian programmer. A smaller number (about 1/3) suggested the decision should simply be mine to make, and no one openly said that the right choice, from the start, is to use the offshore service.

Here are some of the comments:

Competency “appears” to be equal is the key phrase for me. If they turn out not to be comparable, then the Canadian company might be easier to contact and hold accountable if the service is not what you expected.
Assuming competency is equal, I would first support the country you make your bed in. You’re a Canadian, I’m a Canadian, it should first be support a fellow Canadian. Failing that I would support where your biggest sources of income is coming from. If that’s from the States, then from the States. At the small dollar levels you’re talking about, I would not admit to my subscriber base that I favoured an offshore supplier over the slightly more expensive domestic sources.
I have used both before and some projects it is okay for a offshore but there is a language barrier and I have always had trouble with off shore for this type of project.
Kinda of like why not hire an offshore marketing company as compared to local – it’s not all about the money
If it’s not skilled and it’s minimum wage type work, then pay minimum wage.
If the offshore workers can’t speak English and cannot put it back together in the original framework then hire someone who can even if it’s more money.
I would be cautious about off shore as there is no recourse if things go wrong or if content is pirated no good way to insure you will get your project completed correctly or at all. Your blog services US and Canadian companies wouldn’t it make sense to use domestic companies to work for you? What message are you sending by using offshore? Just my 2cents worth.
It’s a global economy and the offshore people have to eat as well. And you’re not talking about a lot of money.
Go with what you’re comfortable doing. The nice think about remodeling is it can’t be outsourced quite as easily as web work.
It depends on what you believe. Do you want to contribute to off=shoring or do you want to support your own local economy?
Second even if complacency is equal does that also mean that the costs of doing business legal are also equal. Because let’s say the offshore company is from Asia and they do not have to deal with overreaching regulation and taxation or pay employees a fair wage. If that is the case then I say go with the local company. However your business prudence may require the cheape(r one).


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