Outsourcing in the IT industry is growing rapidly each year, in the past 12 months alone, over $32 billion was spent on cloud services. Deloitte identifies the market will keep growing each year and adapting to customer requirements. As the market adapts, can you afford to be behind the curve? Outsourcing is seen to be the key to innovation and understanding how the market will develop through 2018. It is essential for your company to keep ahead of the competition.

Here we will look at the 7 must have trends for software outsourcing in 2018 (source).

1. Security

The top story in outsourcing through 2018 must be security. Through 2017, there were many instances of high profile security breaches and hacks, exposing customer details and damaging reputations, not to mention the increase in ransomware attacks. Your business must ensure that, in 2018, your provider focuses on threat intelligence and security automation. They must be active and pragmatic when offering solutions to any weaknesses identified in the services they provide.

2. Virtual Employees

The increase in freelance platforms such as Upwork are allowing access to contractors from across the globe. This freedom and flexibility allows you to have increased productivity on your projects due to resources from different time zones which means that you could theoretically have people working 24 hours a day. The virtual platform also provides potential for much reduced cost with those who have your required skill sets as they compete for work from countries where the cost of labour may be significantly smaller. In 2018, the competition for IT specialists is as high as technology develops and it takes time to train people in the relevant fields. Positively, virtual employees are much more visible than they previously have been. Be sure to check out their online presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter.

3. Machine Learning

Although this computer science has been around since the 1950’s, the effectivity of machine learning in 2018 to process large volumes of data and improve efficiency in businesses is important across a variety of IT disciplines. The ability to automate, learn and process algorithms will reduce your expended effort and costs across your project. While ‘training’ your machine to learn can take some time and cost, it will be worth the effort in the long run.

4. Hybrid Clouds

The ability to work remotely but sharing data effectively has seen a shift to a hybrid cloud system. Vendors who have developed the ability to host both private and public clouds should be utilised. The ability to publically share data where required on the cloud allows collaborative working, but the use of private areas in the cloud to protect your data and IPR is needed. Vendors who can seamlessly but securely share data between your cloud and theirs stand out in 2018.

5. Sole Source Vendors

Developing relationships with organisations will be key in 2018. By utilising the same vendor for your different IT outsource requirements will build partnerships. The benefits of building these partnerships will include having rapid access to the skills you need, negotiating costs and ultimately, trust. By having these benefits, you will be able to ensure your vendor(s) operate transparently and that their business aims align to your own, thus improving your output and efficiency.

6. Soft Skills

Leading a team of people effectively requires an intense ability to communicate, empathise and be culturally sensitive. Through these soft traites, you are able to get the best out of people, especially those you have outsourced work to. Developing your ability to identify and understand people this year will set you ahead of competitors. As you are seldomly face to face with outsourced staff, it is vital to focus on oral communication skills. Have the ability to listen what your employees are saying; often it is those staff members at the bottom of the organisation who have the best ideas and this is also true for contractors who have seen many organisations flourish (or fail!). By getting the best out of your contractor, your project will be a success. Of course, soft skills are not a one way dynamic. You should carefully assess and evaluate the soft skills of your outsource partner. If you are not listened to, shown empathy or have your customs addressed, then what does that say about the way they will treat their own staff?

7. Quality Over Cost

While traditionally, the main aims of a business were to drive down cost, the focus is very much turning to ensuring the highest quality. The huge increase in social media presence and the media running with negative news stories means that any slip up in the quality of your product can quickly go viral. As Snapchat has seen already in 2018, the negative reception of their recent software update has induced a 7% drop on the NYSE.

For 2018, your focus on outsourcing should be on the ability of the contractor to produce a high quality product with a stringent quality management system. While any software developer will admit it’s impossible to get the code 100% right, it is important to ensure that whoever you outsource to will meet the ongoing requirement to audit and evaluate the performance of the software. It is however, a fine balance with respect to cost, there is no point in hiring a contractor which will give you serious cash flow problems.

Conclusion

2018 will be a year focussed on security, quality and public image, dedicating expenditure in these areas will ensure that you are not on the front page of the news for the wrong reasons. We will see that treating staff right is finally getting the focus it has deserved for a long time. On both sides of the employment relationship, it is key to ensure soft skills are evident to retain the right people with the right skill set.