The Truth About Offshore Contractors

Posted in Onshore Onshore or Offshore?

There are not many months where we cannot go out on the web and find where a contractor with a company has broken some set of rules or had some type of trouble in the workforce that is not acceptable.

Let us start with the work American companies give to countries other than the United States. As Americans, how often do we really know what the background is of the people in other countries? Have you ever really wondered who the person seeing your company's databases really is? Do we ask for resumes, and if we do, how do we check a reference on that individual? Do we ask for background checks? Again, if the foreign company provided one, are we familiar enough to know if it is even existent and can confirm the company?

In my meetings with potential clients to sell the American worker, I often hear that the cost for overseas software testers is so much less. Cheaper cost seems to be the determining factor in today's IT shop that outsources quality assurance. Yet when I ask them if they have seen a resume or a background check on these individuals, I get the uncomfortable stutter of "What do you mean?" The fact is that there are few resumes or background checks done for offshore testers. Who in the Human Resources department is calling references in Mumbai to check on a resource in order to make sure they are qualified in their field, or asking for a background check to ensure no ex-convicts are working in the database?

Some might say these processes are not important since the resources are thousands of miles away. In reality, though, these individuals that no one checks up on are talking to your full-time employees daily via phone or email. How do you handle that with a company in India? You will basically have a lawsuit on your hands from a permanent employee, which is certainly not a good way to look at a partnership.

Recently I spoke with a company in India that is passing their work over to Vietnam and China. Costs for offshore software testers in those two countries are less than costs in India, and it is just another avenue of pass-through for people to make money off of your projects. This again raises the question of who is actually looking at your databases. You have a contract signed with one company who is contracted with a company in another country – possibly not a friend of the United States.

In the end, it is all about the webs we weave and the importance of actually knowing what we are doing when we sign an agreement with a company outside of the United States.

Lann Stewart, President of DeRisk IT Inc., is a corporate veteran with more than 15 years of diverse operations, marketing and sales experience. Prior to joining DeRisk IT, he started his corporate career in the financial industry, as AVP of Sales for NCS Mortgage Services. His switch in industries came in 2001 when he was introduced to the software testing industry. With a strong background in successful sales and marketing, DeRisk IT Ltd. of London recruited him in 2002 as Director of Sales for the newly formed U.S. office in Atlanta. He would later hold positions as director of international sales, practicing partner, and then president. He is also an instructor on software testing at the college level, focusing on the importance of proper testing within the SDLC.

Note: DeRisk IT is now known as DeRisk QA.