Technques of outsourcing / sub-contracting


Managing sub-contractor teams can be a complex by itself; leave alone the delivery aspect. At times, there can be more give than take to get a simple job done. Since they are really non-employees, traditional retention strategies cannot be applied here. Also it has observed that due to visa restrictions, many sub-contractors chose to stick with their companies, despite lower pay. The moment they get their green card (in case of U.S.A) or gaining reasonable experience (in India) it becomes extremely difficult to retain them.

Fierce competition from smaller IT solution providers is forcing larger management consultancies to adapt creative pricing strategies and ‘Sub-Contractor Management’

We need to make sure that we have the right team before we discuss managing sub-contractors. Many IT vendors tend to exaggerate skill sets and expertise in their resumes and do not truly represent the individual being considered for the job. Also many times it is not feasible for candidates to be available for face-to-face interviews and hence they need to be screened through telephonic interviews. If managers do not have hands-on systems experience, they should take assistance from a qualified IT professional in the telephonic interviewing process. In cases where a new team member needs to be added to an existing team, one way to foster respect and trust would be to involve qualified sub-contractors in the interviewing process. Also unlike hiring employees, managers do not need to have the best talent available in the market on their team. They need to bring in round about the same potential as the rest of the team. Bringing in more talented sub-contractors on the team may create friction amongst team member and impede team dynamics.

Before assigning tasks, it is recommended that the project plan and the work packets be well-defined. Clearly defining the modules to be delivered not only ensures high quality and timely delivery of the solution, but more importantly helps determine the tenure of the sub-contractor on the project. The real test of a manager comes when a sub-contractor decides to leave the project on a very short notice. Managers should know their plan inside out be able to make necessary adjustments without disturbing the team’s focus on their tasks. Managers need to add a buffer in the project duration to compensate for this risk.

Contrary to common practice, managers should try and move away from the mindset of merely assigning tasks just because they are sub-contractors and are legally bound to do what they are told, and should consider delegating tasks to the sub-contractors. This type of leadership obviously needs to be maintained delicately without losing insight of the intricacies of the tasks. This technique tends to build a sense of ownership and pride amongst sub-contractors in the project.

Due to legal ramifications, managers cannot directly involve sub-contractors in a formal performance review. Therefore managers need to put on their creative interpersonal hats. Managers should keep a constant check on their pulse by encouraging feedback and discuss projects goals through informal, periodic checkpoint meetings. Their dedication to the project will become quite evident through these meetings. Managers should take this opportunity to gain feedback on their leadership styles as well, that they would otherwise not be opportune to when leading employees.

Many times feedback also provides the opportunity for the manager to discover unknown skills of the sub-contractors that can often prove beneficial to other areas on the project. When talent is discovered, managers need to take the effort and build that extra relationship to understand their short to mid-term career goals.

Typically strong developing managers are provided the opportunity to manage sub-contractor teams and deliver high-quality software solutions for clients. The managerial skills required to lead such teams goes beyond just clearly defining and assigning tasks. It requires the manager to build trust, be empathetic towards their backgrounds, and have the drive to get things done from the resources at hand in a very short period of time.

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