The "Outsourcing Evaluation Center" has Limited Usefulness


    What if you created a directory of resources but nobody came? Of course, the Web is littered with the detritus of interesting ideas. A directory's only as good as the information it contains — and unless you have people dedicated to the job of adding and maintaining the data, your resource doesn't stand a chance against a simple Googling.

    And that is what has befallen a site that surely started with great promise but doesn't live up to its URL. The Outsourcing Evaluation Center offers to help you find just the right service provider for a project, based on specific criteria. However, with an anemic databank of only 14 or so service providers as choices, the service is bound to fail you.

    Here's how it's supposed to work. After you fill out a short registration form, the service asks a series of questions (which I list below), then whittles down the list of service providers it recommends. I never went beyond answering the questions, because I was afraid I'd be hearing from the companies wanting to sell me their services, and I'm not buying right now. But I presume the site forwards my contact details to the providers for follow-up.

    I queried on a fictitious Web development project and through the course of describing the project, which I specified was focused on "System Development Process Expertise," only three providers were cut.

    Here are the questions you're supposed to answer to help glean final recommendations. I offer them here, because they're good basic questions you should be able to answer anyway in the course of considering an IT outsourcing project.

    1. In which areas do you require an outsource provider to have application development expertise?
    2. In which areas do you require an outsource provider to offer application support?
    3. Please select the range of employees you would like the outsourcing firm to employ.
    4. Please indicate the vertical segment or industry that most applies to your business (select all that apply).
    5. In which of the technologies identified below, do you need the outsource provider to have experience?
    6. Please indicate your requirements for the vendor's level of presence and localization capabilities (e.g., tax & regulatory compliance) within the following regions (select all that apply).
    7. Please select the range that most closely represents your organization's total annual revenue.
    8. Please select the range that represents the total number of people employed by your company.
    9. How many employees are part of your IT department?
    10. What size team of people do you need staffed?
    11. In what languages do you need to use this solution? This refers to requirements such as a user interface language (select as many as are appropriate).
    12. In which technologies will you need the provider to have expertise?
    13. How soon do you plan to decide on your outsourcing provider? When do you plan to start your project?
    14. Why are you performing this research?
    15. Please list any services or providers you have already researched or are currently using.
    16. Why are you interested in outsourcing? For example, to decrease costs, increase quality, focus on core competencies, or access specialized skills.

    The fact is that finding the right service provider can be a fairly easy — yet time-consuming — chore. When the rest of goes live, we'll provide the case study of a very small software development company that decided to outsource some of its work, with advice from its president. Useful tips, indeed.