Brexit always threatened to exacerbate the already well-documented shortage of tech talent for UK startups and scaleups, with fewer skilled workers coming to the country from the European Union (EU).
The problem isn’t just that UK companies might struggle to attract international talent in the future, however, but the prospect of retaining existing talent is also a real concern. Indeed, a survey by Deloitte following the EU referendum revealed almost half (47%) of highly-skilled workers from the EU were considering leaving the UK in the next five years.
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown another spanner in the works, creating fresh challenges for British businesses to contend with. Yet, if we are to find a silver lining to the crisis, it is that the success of the global remote working revolution has created new opportunities for businesses to join forces with international partners.
Indeed, the removal of international barriers has made it easier for companies to find the right talent overseas that can solve critical business needs and plug skills gaps within their organisations. Tech businesses in the UK now face lower perceived barriers to outsourcing some, or all, of their IT operations overseas, with established videoconferencing and collaboration solutions on hand to make projects run efficiently even in a virtual environment.
Given the likelihood of Brexit making it harder for firms to hire in-house tech teams due to a talent shortage in the domestic market, this development comes at an opportune moment.
What to consider before outsourcing
For those who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of outsourcing, the thought of choosing the right software developer might seem intimidating – particularly if they cannot meet face-to-face. So, below are some pitfalls to avoid when outsourcing tech development.
1. Beware of the cheapest option
Although it can be tempting, avoid selecting a service provider solely based on price. One of the main draws of outsourcing is that it allows companies to save costs – after all, companies located in the likes of Eastern Europe can offer high quality services for much lower prices than you might expect in the UK due to lower overhead and labour costs.
However, avoid approaching outsourcing as a cheap and easy way to offload work. The rates offered by vendors are often a reflection of skills, experience and work quality, so businesses should look for those that offer a balance of good value and quality results.
2. Look for specific experience
Examining a vendor’s previous work is a good way of ensuring that the services offered will match your expectations. A service provider should be able to provide multiple case studies of working on similar projects – whether this web development or computer programming – as well as examples of successful partnerships with businesses in your industry.
Demonstrable tech and sector experience will help you review the developer’s work within the specific context of your business needs and give you a good understanding of what you can expect in terms of quality and style. So, make sure that service providers can tick both these boxes.
3. Assess cultural fit
In many ways, evaluating proposals from service providers is similar to the process of hiring full-time, in-house employees. Assessing cultural fit will be an important part of the evaluation stage: similarities in communication styles, alignment on goals and a drive to make the project a success should all be given careful consideration.
Before making a commitment, both parties must have a clear comprehension of the project requirements, as well as the final deliverables, to avoid any misunderstanding down the line.
The dual effects of Brexit and Covid-19 have opened new doors for business leaders considering the best options for long-term growth. Outsourcing in today’s digitally interconnected environment offers the perfect solution to a talent shortage, while working with overseas partners will help UK businesses gain a competitive edge on the international stage.
Written by Richard Leslie, CEO at The Sourcing Hub, a business development consultancy helping UK firms scale their tech delivery.