Editor’s note: Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of technologies to business challenges. Sanity Check is a regular feature in Local Tech Wire.
_______________________________________________________________________________________In the great debate of outsourcing and off-shoring, very few people talk about improving efficiencies of the technology they are using. Instead they focus on reducing people costs.

I’ve recently read two different articles on the subject of ‘near-shoring’ with very interesting spins on the topic. One company proposes to take a former cruise ship and turn it into a ‘near-shore’ programming haven for non-green card holders to be able to work three miles off the coast of the USA. This eliminates the need for a visa to work in the USA, yet brings the workers close enough to the shores of America for the work to be completed in the same time zones. There are other benefits for the workers like ship-board housing, meals and almost $2,000 per month income.

The other competitive organization has opened ‘secondary domestic sites’ as alternatives to the off-shore model. Their business plan is to take advantage of lower cost of living areas within the USA, hire less-expensive programmers and engineers and compete for the off-shore projects. Both are brilliant marketing ideas and should do well when competing for off-shore projects.

A Third Alternative

However I’d like to offer a third alternative to off-shoring as a solution for cost-cutting; improve efficiencies in the technology currently deployed and let the people you’ve hired actually do their jobs instead of spending their time fire-fighting.

Most of the programmers and engineers I have the pleasure of speaking with tell me that they spend the majority of their day putting out fires; not working on the projects at hand. Very few technologists actually work on projects that will improve the business or create new revenue lines for their companies.

Most spend all day chasing a bug in the code or on ‘break/fix’ missions to keep the business end-users happy. Almost all agree that break/fix and debugging could be handled by deploying better technology in the infrastructure; but there isn’t any money in the budget for ‘new technology’.

Sad but true, it’s a catch twenty-two.

Figthing Dot-Bomb Hangover

Since the dot-bomb explosion software companies have been very innovative and productive with their creations; making things work like never before. New platforms, new ways of designing software, new methods of deploying installations, new concepts that boggle the mind.

Unfortunately the money to spend on these new creations isn’t flowing anymore. So organizations are stuck with old infrastructure tools, built on ten year old technology and the staff is forced to keep it running no matter the cost in productivity. Too many CIO’s got burned in the dot-com days to risk spending money on ‘new technology’ today.

(It’s ironic because the new technology is truly innovative as a direct result of the dot-com failures.)

Let’s take a look at Network Monitoring and Management as an example of new versus old. The 10-plus year old framework technology products forced a company to buy a base product, modules for specific purposes (like one for each operating system, each database, each application, etc.) a server, an operating system and months of consulting to correctly configure the setting for each module.

The new appliance based network monitoring and management solutions are all inclusive without extra modules to purchase, can be installed and completely configured in a matter of three or four days and cost an eighth of the cost of the older products.

So why don’t companies migrate to these newest less expensive products that do more, much more, than the older products?

Because they don’t have the budget for new software or hardware, they only have money for offshore projects; and money to keep paying maintenance on their expensive legacy equipment that is being bandaged together by their ‘expensive’ workforce.

Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of technologies to business challenges. She can be reached via email at terri@nthet.net