More Companies Outsourcing Mainframe Application Development and Testing: Survey

Outsourcing some areas of IT isn’t so much a choice anymore as a necessity for many companies, according to a recent survey conducted in partnership between Vanson Bourne and Micro Focus.

When mainframe applications must change to comply with new laws, 39 percent of CIOs globally are choosing to outsource the process—in most cases, because of a lack of institutional knowledge, the survey said.

Many companies secure partners for mainframe application development and testing because they don’t have the internal documentation or employee background to thoroughly address changing compliance needs, the survey said. Nearly three-quarters lack the relevant records to accurately pinpoint and adapt the right applications.

CIOs in the U.S., at 62 percent, are the most likely to outsource those tasks, according to the survey. At the bottom of the pack is Germany, with 26 percent of CIOs outsourcing compliance related application development and testing.

But outsourcing the processes can come with a lot of baggage.

For one thing, it’s an added expense, because companies have to pay a recurring fee to their partner. It’s like the difference between renting a hotel room and buying a condo. If you’re only going to be in one place for a few days, it makes sense to spend $200 a night on a hotel room. But if you’re going to be in that spot for the long-term, you’ll save by making a more permanent investment.

There’s also the potential that you won’t get the outcome you want because the partner won’t understand your environment as well as an in-house employee. If you don’t articulate your needs well, their work won’t necessarily match your expectations, and you’ll have to pay even more for them to redo it.

Leveraging an in-house team allows you to bring together experts—in your environment and its particular needs—to more efficiently address compliance issues. It also gives you an advantage when it comes to security and control of your environment. You don’t have to risk disclosing sensitive material to an outside source.

Amplify Federal Credit Union Software Director Eric Clemens recently told Computerworld that his company kept mobile application development in house to preserve security and agility. "Outsourcing was considered," Clemens said in the article. "But we wanted to make sure we were able to quickly adapt to member needs, and we wanted to keep the knowledge in-house." 

In a recent article examining the state of outsourcing, McKinsey raised questions about outsourcing activities that are closely coupled with core projects. “If top managers agree, for example, that IT project management is core and should be kept in-house, while software development is noncore and can be outsourced, they must weigh the potentially damaging side effects of separating the two activities,” the article said. “In this case, one complication could be a lack of good in-house project managers in the future, because the career path to an IT project-leadership role often includes deep software experience.”

If you’re looking for a way to develop these skills in-house, SHARE has several resources. zNextGen is a community within a community designed to promote educational and networking opportunities for young System z professionals. The mentorship program connects emerging enterprise IT professionals with established industry leaders, helping them navigate early career challenges, while the message boards help them connect with peers.

We’re also swiftly approaching SHARE in Pittsburgh, where there will be five days’ worth of educational sessions and networking opportunities.

If you’ve been looking outside for help with application development and testing, consider bringing the search back in-house. SHARE is here to help you cultivate the talent.

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