Despite the drawbacks, outsourcing and cloudsourcing still offer distinct advantages, including the ability to tap talented, external resources on an as-needed basis. Cost efficiencies and flexible access to high-quality developers make a compelling case for the outsource/cloudsource model.
I don’t mean to take the significant disadvantages lightly. Companies must retain the flexibility to rapidly wind up and wind down their development teams. Next-generation outsourcing must also take cues from the best practices of manufacturing supply chains to give companies higher quality code, delivered at a faster pace and at cost-efficient prices. Current legacy outsourcing routinely fails to delivery ANY of these benefits.
The model of the future is a cloud factory that supplies tools, methodology, and the best developers on an on-demand basis. Like an optimized manufacturing supply chain, the on-demand cloud factory aligns the interests of the company with cloud factory developers. As a result, companies continue to enjoy flexible, ad hoc help, even though the quality of the engagement itself changes. On-demand cloud factories rely on developer teams curated from the industry’s best and brightest talent. They take a strategic, standardized approach to software development, measurement of progress, and process visibility.
Still not convinced? Consider these additional advantages of the cloud factory model:
- On-demand access to the best and brightest talent: On-demand cloud factories curate teams of highly skilled developers rather than building captive pools of permanent, full-time employees. How do you know that’s what you’re getting? Because the best and the brightest don’t want to be held captive! Each member explicitly commits to a client’s pipeline, workflow, governance, and other codified processes to establish unprecedented levels of accountability, predictability, and quality.
- Shared risk/reward: On-demand cloud factories bill based on the quantity and quality of the software, not the number hours developers spent coding. In turn, cloud factory developers are encouraged to be innovative, and to work better and faster. Plus, they partner with their customers to drive down cycle times and increase margins (while decreasing unit prices).
- High performance process and methodology: To simplify project management, on demand cloud factories rely on Kanban boards, which are simple, highly visual tools that include things like color-coded dashboard gauges. Kanban boards are easy to understand and keep everybody informed with a quick glance.
- Collaborative teams/knowledge transfer: Given their alignment of interests, on demand cloud factories actively engage a company at all times in the development process. This collaboration can’t help but improve the overall quality of the software delivered. Education provided locally by skilled Agile and Lean practitioners to in-house teams transcends those efforts. So when everything is said and done, the cloud factory engagement model actually forces companies to improve their own mastery of the software development lifecycle.
On-demand cloud factories offer an antidote to the downfalls of outsourcing and cloudsourcing. Fortunately, this antidote does not require a huge leap of faith into the unproven. Rather, cloud factories represent a thoughtful, innovative blend of established business and development practices. Only their collective integration makes the model radically different.