outsourcing parts of projects to overseas partners, such disruption has
added one more hazard to an already
lengthy list. Yet undeniably, overseas
outsourcing has become big business.
India, for example, is home to a
US$11 billion outsourcing industry
that includes giants such as Wipro and
Tata Consultancy Services, each
employing tens of thousands of people.
And multisourcing takes the process
one step further, divvying up several
parts of a project simultaneously, with
each chunk allocated to a different
December 2008, three of the four The appeal is obvious. Handing work
Take the time to carefully consider
undersea telecommunications cables over to skilled partners in lower-cost
running between Italy and Egypt were economies helps project dollars go fur-
cut. The damage—thought to be ther and can slice time off the schedule.
caused by a ship dragging its anchor— Less obvious are the risks to those
occurred about 140 kilometers (87 projects.
miles) off the coast of the isle of Sicily, These are not just the conventional
but the effects were felt thousands of risks such as poor quality control or
kilometers away. At a stroke, 65 percent project governance. Project managers
of the telecom traffic to India suffered farming out work to subcontractors have
disruption, and services to Singapore, grown accustomed to factoring those risks
Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Taiwan in. But they’re on much less familiar
and Pakistan were also severely affected. ground when it comes to figuring out the
While engineers scrambled to redirect less conventional risks to a project—from
voice and data traffic over emergency political and economic turbulence to
routes, companies across much of Asia terrorism and massive infrastructure out-
struggled to make telephone calls and ages. The December2008telecomoutage,
access the Internet. At one point, up to for instance, was the second time in just a
60 percent of India’s 50 million Internet year that the cable in question had been
users were affected—and even the damaged, interrupting the flow of voice
country’s banks and stock exchange and data traffic. For projects dependent on
experiencedproblems. outsourcing partners’ constant, reliable
For project managers striving to access to Internet and voice communica-
stretch budgets and shrink schedules by tions, the dangers are obvious.
what should be outsourced—and
what shouldn’t be—and what risks
are attached to outsourcing it.
—Stan Lepeak, Equa Terra, Houston, Texas, USA