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You said it: Offshore outsourcing

Either by e-mail or in our Sound Off forums, you've told us how you feel when it comes to the debate over offshore outsourcing.

The offshore outsourcing debate has become more heated than ever, and recently asked readers to sound off on the subject. Many of those who responded said that offshore outsourcing is about corporate greed. Others, on the other hand, say that the practice will help the United States remain a strong competitor in the global marketplace. And some, whether they agree with the practice or not, believe that offshore outsourcing is here to stay and that we have to work with it. The following is a sampling of readers' opinions.

Yes, offshore outsourcing is unpatriotic, but so is shopping at Wal-Mart, buying Toyotas and not voting. Now, when the government starts doing it, it is only a reflection of our aggregate stupidity! Let's keep up the good work and applaud IBM, Sun, and HP-Compaq for doing whatever it takes to meet the earnings expectations, and [thank] our local, state and federal governments for giving our tax dollars to everyone but us. -- hadrian

Outsourcing is here to stay. Regardless of whether you like it ... it's part of the inevitable globalization trend. -- Americanguy101

The U.S. IT [industry] is already outsourced. If you don't know that, go to any software company and just look around…That horse, my friend, left the barn [a] long time ago. -- selaed

Technology is the backbone of our economy and security. These are not jobs making something (cars, blue jeans, tennis shoes, etc.). These are the jobs that enable and maintain all other jobs, as well as the creation of new products and technologies that will be the basis for our economy in the future. These are also the jobs that control our military defenses. Clearly, these [jobs] need to be protected on the grounds of safety and ensuring our economic security. This is not protectionism; it is just plain common sense. -- Illumina

Outsourcing IT is a natural evolution, just as it was for manufacturing and textiles. Once something becomes a commodity, it becomes a target for low-cost production. Is globalization unpatriotic? Isolationist behavior is always detrimental in the long run. Only through trade can value be produced. Some IT workers are facing the same problems other trades have suffered. The current skill is no longer required at the previous price point. As such, sources for cheaper labor will always be sought, which puts pressure on the current provider. Should customers change suppliers? The anti-outsourcing attitude would say 'no!' since a business loss of a customer could put them out of business. However, customers will always go to the provider that provides the best service for the least cost. Same principle applies to outsourcing IT. -- salyardsk

If you can really do it cheaper offshore, it makes perfect sense to do it offshore, and American companies should be free to do it. Even if it isn't cheaper, they should be free to try. But there's the rub. It may be cheaper to offshore outsource the writing of drivers, dlls and low-level utilities. However, non-technology companies that outsource business application development won't find it any cheaper. They'll shift costs to spec writing and quality control. The recycle costs will be enormous. It takes multiple third-world programmers and American managers to rival one super programmer analyst with the latest 4GL tools and integrated systems. And beware of security problems. -- CorwinSlack

Savings from offshoring are reduced by travel, training, etc., as well as severance costs domestically. The wheels will come off in 2005, when there will be no year-over-year savings without increased productivity on the part of the offshore provider. Cultural barriers to such productivity improvements are huge. U.S. IT professionals are concerned not just about the security of data and quality of service, but also about the security of their own jobs. If Dell's users believed the service they were receiving from a customer support center in India was of the same quality as [a] center located in Austin, Texas, what would the message to their management be? -- doggiemom

While the execs are padding their pockets with money, they are selling this country right down the river. If you want to do what is best for this country, then you have to look out for this country, and that includes those in power positions watching over and helping those in the common positions. If these people are not careful, they are going to outsource the United States right out of existence. -- Imajika

The standard of living for Americans is critical. Every job lost hurts and is just another means to eliminate the middle class in this country. The productivity in this country is the highest it has ever been. So don't go hiding behind the free enterprise system, when it all has to do with the greed of the American executive. There is also a ripple effect that occurs: When jobs aren't available for college graduates, students look for other fields. Hence the reduction of qualified people in America. Hence the reduction of America's technology base. -- Basebud95

IT is seeing the consequences of technology applied to what is essentially a mismanagement problem. IT has had miserably incompetent management for decades. Our pitiful record of performance speaks for itself. Every organization I have worked with has fought tooth and nail against any attempt to rigorously manage IT efforts. The way to effective system development has been available for a decade (SEI-CMM), and few organizations here have paid anything but lip service to it. Not so with our Indian 'competitors.' I suggest that the loss of American IT jobs is not a natural consequence of globalization, but the effect of disillusionment with past performance coupled with 'lower' rates. Few IT organizations can even properly demonstrate their current IT costs of development, so how can management even make a meaningful comparison, other than on these rates? Productivity was the answer in the steel industry, and it is the answer in the IT industry. We are supposed to be experts in productivity, aren't we? So why aren't we using the tools we know work? One answer: bad management! We have avoided accountability so long that we have forgotten how to be accountable. And so we fight management rigor. Bottom line: Indians don't get to vote here, but we do. I don't vote for the 'INS' when I don't have a job. -- pmotogoellsworth

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