In the preparations for life outside of the European Union, one of British companies’ biggest concerns was access to skilled, talented workers – this was particularly true within the tech sector.
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 bloc. In fact, over half of tech founders (55%) surveyed by Tech London Advocates (TLA) believe Brexit is the biggest threat to the capital’s digital industries, owing largely to the prospect of missing out on top international talent.
Not only do companies risk missing out on hiring skilled workers from the EU, however, but there is also a danger that they may struggle to retain existing talent. Indeed, a survey by Deloitte following the referendum on EU membership revealed almost half (47%) of highly-skilled workers from the EU were considering leaving the UK in the next five years.
Tech entrepreneurs will have seen many statistics like these – they hardly make for optimistic reading. However, as the UK adapts to life after Brexit, not to mention the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19, there are reasons to be confident that tech talent shortages will not inhibit the growth of early-stage tech businesses.
The impact of the remote working revolution
The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has created a window of opportunity when it comes to outsourcing. Let us examine why…
For one, the enforced transition to fully remote working for many businesses over the past 12 months has helped to combat some longstanding concerns regarding outsourcing. Most notably, the pandemic has served to highlight that collaborating with other professionals – and managing the work of entire teams – is entirely possible, and quite possibly more efficient, in a virtual environment.
UK tech businesses seeking software development services, for instance, may now be increasingly open to taking advantage of the trend for distributed teams, which they can manage through videoconferencing tools and collaboration platforms. It is certainly a trend that we have noticed at The Sourcing Hub over recent months, with a sharp rise in enquiries from British companies looking to outsource all manner of tech development.
The ability to overcome the geographical chasm has made it inherently easier for companies to find the right partners overseas that can solve critical business needs and plug skills gaps within their organisation. And 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.
How to outsource effectively
For those who are unfamiliar with outsourcing, the thought of choosing the right software developer might seem intimidating, particularly if they cannot meet them face-to-face. So, below are three key considerations that businesses should keep in mind before reaching out to potential partners.
- Avoid the cheapest option
Arguably the biggest advantage of outsourcing is the ability to find partners that can deliver products and services for a fraction of the cost that you might expect here in the UK. To that end, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option to ensure the biggest savings.
However, while international partners will often be able to shave off excess costs due to lower overheads, the right balance must be struck between cost efficiency and quality. Choosing the cheapest option can cause more problems than it solves, so taking the time to conduct some careful due diligence on potential partners will pay dividends in the long run.
- Demonstrable tech and sector experience
At this point you might be wondering how it is possible to guarantee that a partner will meet your business expectations, when you are located miles apart. To that end, I would encourage businesses to choose companies that can provide two things: firstly, multiple case studies of creating the kind of tech you need, as well as examples of working with businesses in your industry. Demonstrable tech and sector experience will help you to review the developer’s work within the specific context of your business needs – make sure they tick both those boxes.
Assessing a business’ market reputation today is also a much simpler task than it once was. A quick internet search should be able to offer a good impression of a vendor’s history, including an insight into their past projects and results, and their track record for quality and reliability. Further, third parties such as The Sourcing Hub exist to do much of this legwork for clients – we can identify the ideal vendor based on our pre-vetted list of technology partners.
- Finding a cultural fit
And finally, many overlook the importance of finding a good cultural fit, when in reality it can be just as important as verifying the requisite expertise. Ultimately, in order to achieve a successful partnership outcome, both sides must be aligned on their goals.
As part of this, businesses should be on the lookout for service providers that share a similar style of communication and a drive to make the partnership a success. Those looking for outsourcing partners should make an assessment of cultural fit an essential part of the selection process, thereby ensuring both companies can work well in close harmony.
The dual threat of Brexit and Covid-19 will inevitably force businesses to review practices and processes. As such, now is a logical moment for UK businesses to consider cooperating with international partners, which could provide the perfect solution to the talent shortage problem and makes more sense than ever in today’s remote working environment. Outsourcing will no doubt help British businesses to retain their competitive advantage on the global marketplace, and access the skills needed to scale.
Richard Leslie is CEO of The Sourcing Hub, a business development consultancy helping UK firms to scale their tech delivery capability through its portfolio of over 30 nearshore software services providers. The Sourcing Hub evaluates your business requirements, tech stack, your desired commercial model and budget, and then matches you with the most relevant service provider to ensure a successful long-term engagement.