When taking a long trip, it’s always important to know what to take and what to leave behind. The same goes for sending work offshore — some tasks travel well, some are best left at home.DON’T send jobs that require a lot of collaboration with users to the other side of the world. Development jobs that involve a lot of iteration — produce a prototype, discuss with users, modify, go back to the users — work better with the developers and the users fairly close together, says Doug McCuaig, senior vice-president for the greater Toronto area and Atlantic Canada at CGI Group Inc. of Montréal.
DO send jobs with clearly defined specifications offshore. Douglas Colby, chief executive for U.S. technology services at Accenture, says basic design, coding and testing work well offshore, while more complex work involving a lot of communication is best kept closer to home. Michael Morton, chief information officer at ARSystems International in Toronto, says he has found it important to give clear and precise specifications. “We really do need to communicate how we want them to program.”
DON’T use offshore outsourcing for mission-critical, time-sensitive work. A project may be a good fit for offshore if you can be sure that “if it’s not done tomorrow morning at eight, the whole company doesn’t go bankrupt,” says Peter Thompson, president and chief executive of RIS Resource Information Systems Inc. in Toronto.
DO use offshore outsourcing if the skills needed are hard to find in Canada and more easily available somewhere else — provided the job is a good fit in other respects.
DON’T send work that involves a lot of direct contact with users offshore. It probably doesn’t make sense to have people calling Romania to report a malfunctioning PC, says Thompson, and “don’t ask (offshore workers) to work midnight shifts to answer support calls.”
DO be cautious about security and privacy issues. Shipping sensitive data offshore may raise privacy concerns with customers and possibly even put you in conflict with the law. Check relevant legislation before you make a move, and ask plenty of questions about physical and information security.

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