Taranaki is an island off the West coast of the North Island of New Zealand, you may have heard of it? It is connected to the North Island by air, by State Highway 3 North to Pio Pio and the wonderful Fat Pigeon Cafe, and State Highway 3 South to Whanganui. At its centre is a large conical active volcano and the wonderfully fractal Egmont National Park. It is renown for its surfing and windsurfing locations, and for its two primary industries; the mining of gold both white and black.
The local economy supports a well educated and cosmopolitan workforce, and diverse industries supporting the dairy and oil sectors in addition to homegrown success stories such as Howard Wright, TenderLink, TSB Bank, and Green Meadows Beef. Labour market statistics show that the Taranaki unemployment rate is lower than the New Zealand average at 5.7% versus 5.9% at June 2014 and has a higher labour force participation rate at 69.8% versus 68.9%. Plus median personal income is higher in Taranaki than the rest of New Zealand. Combined with affordable housing and guestimated average commute times of around 15 minutes in New Plymouth, Taranaki is a great place to live and work.
This is all entirely factual, apart from one obvious inaccuracy; Taranaki is only an island metaphorically. Which brings me in a roundabout way to Zebra Crossing Ltd. Like a number of small IT businesses in provincial locations, we are a software development consultancy with a quality team of experienced professionals. We have all spent time working outside the region but have chosen to live in Taranaki for family reasons and as an organisation we are well embedded in the local economy. We also aspire to extend our reach beyond our island paradise. I believe there is an opportunity to "offshore" software development to Taranaki and other regions, per the old adage "don't leave home until you've seen the country."
My inbox regularly receives email from overseas locations offering to supply developers at attractive rates. With a number of large national entities sucking up developers, looking offshore can be appealing. For guidance, Nick Krym's "Outsource It!" is a useful read and highlights not only some of the benefits but also the pitfalls of offshoring:
With most outsourcing providers located thousands of miles away in countries that you might have seen only on the Discovery Channel, embarking on an outsourcing journey may bring challenges you haven't seen before. Once you enter the world of outsourcing, you'll most likely find yourself working with people you have never met who have names you can't pronounce and whose behavior you can't interpret.
While that may not be too big a hurdle, the real issues revolve around productivity. Nick provides some good metrics around the economics of offshoring with the conclusion that "due to the productivity issues, the difference in hourly rates does not translate to cost savings", or to paraphrase, don't offshore your projects to save money.
Which is a good opportunity for a segue to the benefits of "offshoring" IT to regional New Zealand. As an outsourcing provider, we are a Skype, short flight, or scenic drive from New Zealand's two largest main centres. By virtue of our lower overheads we can offer better rates than are available in those main centres, and as an experienced team of developers I believe our productivity levels and the quality of our work are at least the equal of IT organisations in the main centres.
So if you are contemplating offshoring, please have another look at your local options first. For more information you can contact us directly or for information about the 'Naki point your browser to Venture Taranaki.