IBM attempts to make offshoring easier

Last week IBM issued a patent application for an offshore outsourcing methodology that is aimed to help companies minimize the risks associated with sending work overseas.

This application describes a computer-driven approach that values both the quantitative and qualitative attributes of a “global resource sourcing strategy”. The methodology considers language skills and morale of offshore staff as well as a list of hard numbers of setting up offshore operations.

In fact, IBM intends to reduce concerns associated with offshore operations to a mathematic model, and to create an unified application that can be a reusable sourcing template for identifying and analyzing global resources.

The company recently submitted the application to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, it couldn’t be better time for “Big Blue” as in the same day the company announced that it is eliminating more jobs in its North American operations.

Alliance@IBM has said it expects up to 5,000 workers to be laid off. The union associates it with a plan by IBM to move more jobs overseas.

In turn, IBM claims that its methodology allows decision-makers to conveniently trade off one or more qualitatively defined levels between one or more factors in terms of quantifiable costs. It is also explains why its so important to look at a broad range of variables when making global sourcing decisions. By simply looking at wages and material costs, "the organization may indirectly increase other costs such as those associated with poorer quality workers and/or materials," IBM said. That could include loss of customers, lower productivity, increased product returns and higher worker attrition, the company said, adding that a company "needs to consider both direct and indirect costs associated with its resources."

This isn't the first time when IBM has filed for a patent related to an offshoring methodology. An application filed in 2007 described a software-driven approach "for identifying at least a portion of a human-resource within an organization for outsourcing."