In an increasingly competitive marketplace, companies are continually seeking ways to innovate faster, improve collaboration, and deliver more value to their customers. DevOps has emerged as a pivotal methodology to achieve these goals, offering benefits like shorter development cycles, better team collaboration, and more efficient use of resources.
But another layer to the story is the compelling financial and operational advantages of outsourcing and nearshoring DevOps roles. Imagine being able to onboard a senior DevOps Engineer from Mexico City with over 5 years of experience and an impressive skill set that includes Kubernetes, Docker, Jenkins, Terraform, and AWS or Azure cloud platforms.
Such a package would cost you around $5,000 per month. In contrast, a similar skill set would set you back approximately $15,000 per month in the U.S. Moreover, nearshoring offers additional benefits such as time zone compatibility and cultural alignment, facilitating real-time collaboration and swift troubleshooting sessions.
The Double-Edged Sword: Risks of Outsourcing and Nearshoring
Outsourcing and nearshoring can be game-changers for your DevOps strategy, offering both cost savings and access to a vast talent pool. However, these advantages can quickly turn into liabilities without adequate preparation. Common pitfalls include a lack of transparency in compensation models, which can lead to talent attrition and increased churn.
Similarly, focusing solely on technical skills during candidate screening can result in a lack of cultural fit or commitment to your specific initiatives. But perhaps the most glaring risk is the "Dependency on Supplier" issue. When companies hand over too much control to outsourcing agencies, they become vulnerable to price hikes, misaligned priorities, and potential security risks. In such cases, the balance of power shifts, leaving the client company at the mercy of the supplier's terms.
What This Article Will Cover
Internal data at Teilur Talent indicates that many companies make similar, avoidable mistakes when outsourcing DevOps roles. In this article, we'll break down these pitfalls, offering actionable insights to help you sidestep them and fully capitalize on the benefits of DevOps outsourcing and nearshoring.
Mistake #1: Lack of Compensation Transparency
The Talent is There, But So Is The Risk
The world has become a smaller place when it comes to sourcing top-tier DevOps talent. Regions like Latin America have caught up considerably, producing highly skilled professionals well-versed in sought-after technologies such as Azure, AWS, containers, Kubernetes, and CI/CD pipelines. These are the same skills you'd look for in a U.S.-based DevOps engineer, often coming at a fraction of the cost.
The Compensation Gap: A Breeding Ground for Distrust
However, this cost advantage can be a double-edged sword. The outsourcing industry for far too long has exploited the cost differential between regions to pocket significant margins, sometimes without adequately compensating the talent doing the actual work.
We’ve noticed from our recruited talent network that many of them come in discontent because a lack of transparency from other agencies leads to resentment among the outsourced staff while fomenting an environment of mistrust. Over time mistrust erodes the team's commitment and results in higher churn rates. Talent often opts to move on independently, severing ties with the outsourcing agency that placed them.
The Transparency Factor: Building Trust for the Long Haul
This is where compensation transparency comes into play. It’s not just about fair pay; it's about fostering a culture of openness and trust between all parties involved. The best way to achieve this is by selecting an agency that is transparent about its compensation model.
For example, at Teilur Talent, we've seen a significant improvement in engineering retention rates by being upfront about our margins. By explicitly mentioning we never charge a client more than 20% of the engineer's salary, we’ve seen significant loyalty and trust among talent. When a client is billed $5,000, they can be assured that at least $4,000 is going directly to the talent who is performing the work. This benefits all parties involved.
Why Transparency is Crucial for Overseas Talent
Being transparent about compensation isn't just ethical; it's practical. Talent that trusts their agency and understands how their compensation is structured is more likely to stay for the long term. This not only reduces churn but also eliminates the indirect costs associated with frequent rehiring and retraining. It's a win-win for both the client and the talent: the client retains a committed, effective team member, and the talent gains a stable, rewarding employment situation.
When outsourcing DevOps roles, especially to regions where talent is abundant but the cost of living is lower, it’s crucial to partner with an agency that values compensation transparency. This one factor can make or break the long-term success of your outsourced DevOps initiative. So before making your choice, ensure that your agency is committed to transparently disclosing how much of your payment goes to the talent doing the work.
Mistake #2: Overemphasis on Technical Skills at the Expense of Soft Skills
The Siren Song of Technical Prowess
In a rapidly evolving technology landscape, it's easy to get captivated by technical brilliance. Most outsourcing and nearshoring agencies flaunt their access to 'elite' or 'top-tier' DevOps talent, usually backed by impressive technical tests and certifications. While technical proficiency is undoubtedly important, focusing solely on these aspects can lead to an unbalanced team that may struggle in the real-world complexities of DevOps.
The Missing Piece: Soft Skills
DevOps is not just about automating pipelines or orchestrating containers; it's about creating a collaborative environment that bridges the gap between software development and IT operations. Soft skills such as effective communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability are indispensable. These are the skills that facilitate better collaboration between teams, ensure alignment with organizational objectives, and contribute to the long-term success of your DevOps initiatives.
The Two-Way Interview Process: Don't Be Fooled
It's easy to be impressed by technical tests and overlook the crucial aspect of soft skills. To prevent this pitfall, ensure the outsourcing agency you work with doesn't just pre-screen candidates for technical acumen but also allows you, the client, to rigorously interview candidates for both their technical and soft skills. You're not just hiring a set of technical abilities; you're hiring a whole individual who needs to fit seamlessly into your existing team and align with your organizational culture and goals.
Key Soft Skills for DevOps Engineers
When interviewing candidates, pay close attention to their proficiency in the following soft skills:
- Communication: Can they effectively articulate ideas and discuss technical issues with both tech and non-tech team members?
- Collaboration: How well do they work in a team setting, especially in high-pressure situations?
- Adaptability: Are they open to change and capable of pivoting strategies quickly when things don't go as planned?
- Problem-Solving: How do they approach challenges, and what steps do they take to find optimal solutions?
But more importantly, review if the agency that you will partner with for outsourcing or nearshoring DevOps has a robust track record on evaluating soft skills. Most if not all of the agencies are great at reviewing keywords on a resume for specific DevOps skills, but identifying the cultural fit of a candidate for a client is much harder because it can’t be automated. Make sure you work with an agency that understands this.
DevOps is a multi-faceted discipline that requires more than just technical aptitude. When outsourcing or nearshoring DevOps roles, be sure to partner with an agency that understands the importance of soft skills in building a successful, well-rounded team. Opt for a two-way interview process that allows you to gauge both the technical and soft skills of your prospective hires, thereby setting the stage for a more successful DevOps implementation.
Mistake #3: Outsourcing Entire Projects Instead of Talent
The Risky Bet: Project-Based Outsourcing
Many companies fall into the trap of outsourcing entire projects, effectively relinquishing control of crucial technical aspects to external agencies. On the surface, this might seem like a time-saving approach; you hand off the project requirements and wait for the finished product. However, this method is fraught with risks. For one, it creates a power imbalance in favor of the outsourcing agency, especially if they realize that they possess critical expertise you lack. This dynamic can lead to price gouging, contract manipulation, and even a jeopardized project delivery.
Scenario 1: Outsourcing the Project
You contract an outsourcing agency to develop a new cloud infrastructure for your business. Over time, they become the gatekeepers of your project, holding both the technical expertise and the actual codebase. They then leverage this position to renegotiate contracts, increase prices, or push back deadlines, knowing well that you are too invested to easily switch providers.
Scenario 2: Outsourcing the Talent
Instead of outsourcing the project, you hire individual DevOps engineers through a nearshoring agency. You interview and onboard these engineers, ensuring their skills and goals align with your project requirements. They integrate into your team, work under your supervision, and contribute to your cloud infrastructure development. You maintain control, they enjoy a fulfilling role, and the agency merely facilitates this symbiosis by handling payroll and compliance.
The Win-Win-Win Model: Outsourcing Talent, Not Projects
By focusing on talent rather than projects, you retain complete control over your strategy and execution. This allows for a much healthier relationship between you, the outsourced talent, and the outsourcing agency. For example, at Teilur Talent, we've found immense success with this approach. The outsourced talent operates as an integral part of your team, not as a separate entity managed by us. You benefit from their expertise and lower cost, they gain from roles that align with their career goals, and we simply provide administrative support like payroll and contract compliance.
Project-based outsourcing may seem convenient initially but can lead to unfavorable power dynamics, reduced control, and potentially higher costs. On the other hand, talent-based outsourcing puts you in the driver's seat, allowing you to build a team tailored to your specific needs and objectives. It's a more transparent, empowering, and risk-mitigated approach that aligns all parties involved.
When outsourcing or nearshoring DevOps make sure you evaluate if the agency you will be hiring enables you to interview the candidates. Make sure candidates are not “assigned” to you, but make sure you can decide who you want to work with by having them follow your interview process.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Time-Zone Differences
Outsourcing in DevOps in different time zones
This is where we emphasize the benefit is stronger with Nearshoring than with outsourcing. In the digital age, it might seem like geography is irrelevant. After all, remote work is more prevalent than ever, and companies are becoming increasingly global. However, when it comes to DevOps—which often requires real-time collaboration, quick decision-making, and instant problem-solving—the importance of time zones cannot be overstated.
Imagine an emergency where your application is down, and you need immediate assistance from your DevOps engineer. If your engineer is operating in a vastly different time zone, you may find yourself sending urgent emails in the middle of the night, only to receive responses when you're off the clock. This delay can lead to extended downtime, unhappy clients, and potentially lost revenue.
Time-Zone Alignment: A Key to Efficient Collaboration
Having team members in similar or overlapping time zones facilitates immediate communication. Whether it's a quick Zoom call to troubleshoot an issue, or an instantaneous Slack conversation to deploy a new feature, real-time communication is often the linchpin of successful DevOps operations.
Let's consider a concrete example to drive home the importance of time-zone alignment in a DevOps environment. Imagine your e-commerce platform experiences a sudden surge in traffic due to a flash sale. You start to notice latency issues and customer complaints start rolling in about slow load times and transaction errors.
Scenario 1: Disparate Time Zones
Your DevOps engineer, who is responsible for managing the auto-scaling of your cloud resources, is based 9 hours ahead of your time zone. By the time your day starts, they're wrapping up theirs. You send an urgent message about the situation, but it's midnight where they are. By the time they see the message, analyze the situation, and implement a solution, you've lost critical hours. Your platform's reputation takes a hit, and the impact is immediately felt in sales and customer trust.
Scenario 2: Overlapping Time Zones
Now, let's say you've outsourced your DevOps to a nearshoring agency in Latin America, with a time zone that overlaps significantly with yours. The moment you detect the latency issue, you ping your DevOps engineer via Slack. They immediately acknowledge the problem and jump into action.
Within minutes, they assessed the situation, auto-scaled your resources, and implemented performance optimizations. The downtime is minimized, the flash sale is salvaged, and customer trust is maintained.
The difference between the two scenarios is night and day—quite literally. When your DevOps team is in the same or a similar time zone, the communication loop is drastically shortened, allowing for immediate action and problem-solving. In the fast-paced, always-on world of DevOps, where every minute counts, time-zone alignment isn't just a convenience; it's a necessity.
By not accounting for the impact of time zones in your outsourcing or nearshoring strategy, you risk not only delayed responses but also real financial and reputational losses. Choose an agency that understands the criticality of time-zone compatibility to ensure your DevOps operations are as efficient and effective as possible.
Go after Nearshoring instead of outsourcing
At Teilur Talent, we've recognized the critical role that time zones play in successful outsourcing. Most of our clients are based in the U.S. and Canada, which is why we exclusively recruit talent from Latin America. This strategic alignment ensures that there's significant time overlap, allowing for more synchronized, efficient workflows. The result? Issues are addressed promptly, deployments are coordinated smoothly, and the DevOps cycle hums along like a well-oiled machine.
If you're a company based in the U.S. or Canada, the time-zone compatibility offered by Latin American DevOps talent is unbeatable. Not only do you benefit from highly skilled engineers, but you also gain the advantage of near-instantaneous communication. This synergy creates a more cohesive, efficient, and productive DevOps team.
Ignoring time-zone differences when outsourcing DevOps roles can lead to inefficient workflows, delayed responses, and ultimately, a less effective DevOps strategy. Make sure you carefully select a nearshoring agency that prioritizes time-zone alignment, a company that sets the stage for more effective communication and a more successful DevOps operation.
Mistake #5: Not Aligning with Company Culture
The Analogy: Team Chemistry in Sports
Let's consider a sports analogy to understand why cultural alignment is so crucial. Imagine assembling a soccer team where each player is selected solely based on their technical prowess, like dribbling skills or goal-scoring records, without considering how they fit into the team's overall strategy, personality, and culture. Even with all the individual talents, the team may still struggle. Why? Because soccer isn't just about the skills; it's about how those skills synergize on the field. The same logic applies to DevOps and any team-centric operation.
The Reality: Square Pegs in Round Holes
You could have a DevOps engineer who is a wizard with Kubernetes and has an awe-inspiring GitHub profile, but if they can't effectively communicate with your team or don't share your company's values and objectives, you're setting yourself up for failure. We've seen scenarios where a technically adept DevOps candidate couldn't sync up with the team's Agile methodologies or understand the real-world constraints of the organization's legacy systems. The result? A slow and inefficient workflow with mounting frustrations on both sides.
The Action Plan: Interview and Align
To prevent this from happening, ensure that the outsourcing agency you're working with allows you to interview the candidates directly. Just as you wouldn't hire an internal candidate without assessing their cultural fit, the same should hold for your outsourced talent. Probe for critical DevOps soft skills like problem-solving, adaptability, and team collaboration.
Moreover, verify that the candidate can align not only with your organization's broader ethos but also with the specific dynamic of the hiring manager. DevOps is a high-collaboration field where a good rapport between the engineer and the manager can make a world of difference. For example, if the manager values quick, real-time updates but the DevOps engineer prefers end-of-day reporting, there's going to be tension and inefficiency.
Align, Don't Assign
At Teilur Talent, we've seen numerous clients switch to us because we get it: Team building is about aligning the jigsaw pieces, not just stuffing them together. By empowering you to interview candidates and make judgments about their technical and cultural fit, we ensure that the DevOps talent you onboard is in harmony with your existing team and organization at large.
Don't leave cultural fit to chance; make sure you're part of the selection process. An effective DevOps team is not just a collection of individual skills—it's a cohesive unit that shares a common goal and work style.
Conclusion: The Smart Way to Nearshore Your DevOps Team
In today's competitive landscape, leveraging the efficiencies of DevOps is no longer a luxury—it's a necessity. But to unlock the full potential of DevOps, it's essential to navigate the complexities of outsourcing and nearshoring wisely. While these models offer compelling financial and operational advantages, pitfalls abound if you're not vigilant.
From the detrimental effects of under-compensation and ignoring soft skills to the risks of relinquishing control over crucial projects, these common mistakes can derail your DevOps journey. Add to that the potential chaos brought on by ignoring time-zone differences and the detrimental impact of a poor cultural fit, and you have a recipe for inefficiency and frustration.
However, there's a better way. By adhering to the best practices we've outlined—prioritizing transparency, focusing on both hard and soft skills, retaining project control, accounting for time-zone compatibility, and ensuring a cultural fit—you can avoid these pitfalls and build a high-performing, cost-effective DevOps team that integrates seamlessly with your organization.
Teilur Talent has mastered this intricate balance, offering unparalleled engineering retention rates, rigorous candidate screening for both technical and soft skills, and a business model that emphasizes client empowerment. We believe that the most successful DevOps teams are built on a foundation of trust, technical excellence, and aligned objectives.
So as you venture into outsourcing or nearshoring your DevOps needs, equip yourself with the knowledge to make informed choices. The right decisions here can not only transform your DevOps strategy but also catalyze broader organizational success. Choose wisely, and your DevOps team will become a strategic asset rather than a costly liability.
Looking to Nearshore to outsource DevOps?
Talk to Teilur Talent, we work from venture-backed seed start-ups all the way to multibillion dollar Fortune 500 companies. Talk to us, we have no minimum contracts, or MSAs to start exploring the right DevOps for you.