From a startup or growing business perspective, it is one thing to understand the basics of outsourcing, but completely another one to use it as a competitive advantage. Being able to accomplish this requires careful planning, strategy, and understanding of its impact across your business departments.
If you are interested in understanding or using outsourcing as a competitive strategy for your startup or small business, you’ll find below a baseline idea as to how you can use outsourcing as a competitive advantage, how it can affect your company, and how to get started devising your own strategy.
Let’s begin with a disclaimer: Outsourcing is not a lasting competitive advantage.
This looks like a contradicting argument! At its core, outsourcing cannot be a competitive advantage. While it brings cost-cutting, speeds up product development, and helps companies focus on their core, it is not a proprietary strategy with a barrier of entry or one which can’t be replicated by the competition in the long term.
Think of it this way — if one day Apple realizes that they can cut costs on their computers 10% by moving their design team to Canada, then it will also be true for its competitors, which will, in turn, come to the realization that they can also employ this strategy.
Now, if we think of it from a startup’s or small business perspective, it’s a completely different ball game. It allows for faster product iterations, quicker time-to-market cycles, and extends your lifeline — i.e. runway. So in a smaller scale, it works to get ahead of the game in a sea of competition looking to get to their next milestone.
To understand these competitive strategies I will reiterate that we must think of them as tools to get a product-to-market faster, create a better customer experience, enhance or shorten the product roadmap, or obtain more customers via marketing.
Let’s take a look at how it works from a development standpoint.
Outsourcing development is one of the most popular strategies companies use today. Especially since it has become quite the challenge to hire and retain affordable tech talent in the US.
This strategy involves branching out a significant chunk of your development department and outsourcing it to countries with tech hubs like India, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ukraine.
These are some ways this strategy works:
With a limited budget and the need to get to market, you can save a significant amount of cash and development time by employing a strategy like this.
Example – If we were to say that a Junior developer costs around $95,000 a year in-house or $45,000 remotely. You can even get two and speed up development!
Summarizing, it affects your company departments the following way:
There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy that you can just pick up and employ. It’s completely dependent on what your company does and that stage it’s in. In my eyes, the earlier the startup the more you should outsource to be able to get to MVP or product-market fit. Conversely, the further along you are the more you should consolidate your tech decision-makers in-house — aka your CTO or Team Lead.
Here’s a list to get you jump-started with finding out if you can outsource some of your company’s functionalities.
Outsourcing as a competitive strategy is very attractive and has some great advantages, but it takes some planning and careful execution to really bring to life. As I mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, it takes some real company introspection to find out what is the most efficient and effective way to implement it in your company. Use this as a baseline and adapt according to your size, industry, and company age.
At CodersLink we believe that bridging great businesses with talent shouldn’t be hard, which is why we simplify the process of finding remote top tech talent. If you are interested in seeing if a development strategy like this is right for your company leave us a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!