It seems everyone is writing a book on outsourcing these days, but I recently finished one of the better ones that I have read in a while. Published this year, Software without Borders by Steve Mezak of Accelerance, is a good primer for those not familiar with the process of offshoring.
Every outsourcing book contains a chapter on offshore locations and usually they are all the same, there is only so much that can be said about the different countries involved in the outsourcing industry. However I think the author has presented his analysis differently, from a commercial perspective. He presents a “Who should go” and “Who should hesitate” analysis, based on his experience of course, but still it takes the analysis to the next step which will be very helpful to those who are not familiar with any of the offshore locations.
Included in this primer is a section on metrics for your software outsourcing project. A good list is provided, but they are typical outsourcing metrics that could be used for any software project, whether it is done in-house, or outsourced offshore or onshore. The metrics are also very IT oriented, not business oriented. I prefer measurements for projects which include how much revenue can be generated by adding these new features, or how much money can we save by saving customer support time, etc. I do agree whole heartedly with the sharing of a projects financial goal with the offshore team. Let them in on it so they can feel the value of what they are doing.
Accelerance is a prime contractor and chapter one ends with a discussion of why it is better to work through a prime contractor when deciding where and with whom to offshore. Since this is what Accelerance does, no negatives of working with a prime contractor are included. Some aspects to think about, if you do decide to go through a prime contractor include the impartiality. It may not be as impartial as you think. The companies in the network have agree to pay a fee to the prime contractor to bring them business. They have gone through some due diligence by the prime contractor, but the actual type of due diligence should be reviewed by you. Will the vendors be the "best" ones to work with in an offshore location, or are they the only places to work with? Probably not, they will be the ones that agreed to pay a fee to the prime contractor. However, will they provide you with enough of a choice for you to look at when deciding with whom to work, probably yes.
Overall Software without Borders has a good practical feel to it; the author is able to give many good insights from personal experience as well as current examples. The appendixes provide additional checklists for anyone contemplating offshoring software development.