Outsourcing help

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When you stop to think about it, the truth is companies have been outsourcing business functions forever. If they didn’t, every business would have its own internal CPA firm, janitorial service, ad agency and print shop. It would be nearly impossible for small and mid-size companies to compete under such circumstances.
Businesses choose to outsource so they can hire an expert that they may not need for the long term. Sometimes they realize that the function is simply detracting from their core business. Bottom line, most businesses choose to outsource services to reduce costs and gain access to the specific talents and resources they need.
Sanjay Ahluwalia contends that the recent rise in outsourcing information technology (IT) services is no different. His firm, The Orb Group, helps small and mid-sized companies take advantage of the value and benefits IT outsourcing can provide.
"Large companies have greater access to the global marketplace," he said. "What we are really trying to do is serve as a bridge between small to mid-size American companies and Indian information technology resources."
An Indian-American, Ahluwalia saw the opportunity to blend his understanding of India’s culture with his knowledge of information technology and seized it. So far, his hunch has been a success. Providing services, including software development, supplemental IT staffing and business process outsourcing, The Orb Group exceeded budget project projections in its first two years by an average of 10 percent. This year, Ahluwalia says the company is right on target to meet its objectives.
He likes to consider himself a career entrepreneur and admits that his working style is not one that follows the status quo. Whether it’s the nearest Starbucks or the balcony of his condo in the city, The Orb Group’s business model allows him to work from anywhere. His schedule is one that requires him to work limited hours during the day to communicate with American clients and late nights to communicate with his team in India.
"When it comes to IT projects, companies have fears about losing control – about losing the ability to have the hands-on, internal, day-to-day contact with the professionals working on their projects." Ahluwalia said. "We take the lead to make sure everything goes right on behalf of our clients. We are a local firm, so they can talk to us, see us, whenever they want to be sure everything is progressing smoothly."
Client confidentiality is paramount. Currently, the firm is working with a national brand to develop an e-commerce Web site. The site will offer consumers a wide range of flexibility to "build their own" product, Ahluwalia said.
"In this particular case, the client needed the work done fast, had a limited budget and quite honestly, most firms would not take on such a complicated job under those circumstances," Ahluwalia said. "Not only did our team complete the job within their scope and parameters, but we were able to save them two-thirds of what other firms would have charged them."
While it’s doubtful that companies will seek to outsource regulated or core business functions, they will continue to seek resources to fill gaps in their skill sets. The single greatest benefit of outsourcing continues to be total added value – having access to a wider pool of resources or expertise at a competitive price.
KeleMarie Lyons is the founder of Pinnacle XL, a management-consulting company with offices in Milwaukee and Chicago. She can be reached via e-mail at kelemarie@pinnaclexl.com.
Ocober 15, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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