Feb 17, 2015

Trust vs. Control – Dedicated Teams Management

Author: Alexandra Stanculescu

A few articles back, towards the end of Going steady with your long-distance IT-relationship, part II, I’ve raised the issue of in-house vs. supplier management of dedicated development teams – should you manage the supplier’s dedicated team yourself, or should you allow your supplier to manage its own people?

At a glance, both options seem appealing in their own way: managing in-house offers a sense of control over the process, especially if you’re a tech company yourself, while outsourcing this function along with the actual project would save your in-house resources a lot of time, and that is especially alluring for non-IT organizations, because it allows for better focus on core processes. So it would appear that the decision is based on whether you value control over time and focus, or time and focus over control. But is it really just a matter of personal taste?

How trust issues destroy otherwise healthy relationships

They say inability to trust one another and bad communication are at the core of most of the dysfunctional human interactions. Well, same is true for outsourcing relationships – especially with a long-term commitment like the one implied by the Dedicated Teams working model. Think about it: if you could be absolutely, 100% sure that your partner was doing their absolute best to add value to your business, that they have your interest in mind when making every and any project-related decision, would you not prefer they manage their own people themselves? You probably would. First of all, they’re all in the same place, which obviously helps save a significant amount of time on both sides. Second of all, they know the people they hired on a more personal level: they know what motivates them, what type of task to assign to what person so they’d be kept engaged, who’s better at which part of the development process, and so on. Third of all, it would make the overall process more dynamic, and a lot of time would be saved on overburdening formalities: some decisions could be made on-the-go, as situations arise, without any delay. And, last but not least, it would save your in-house resources a lot of time, time which could be better put to use.

But you can’t be sure, can you? And, because you can’t be 100% sure, you’d rather do anything humanly possible to keep as much of the decision-making on your side of the deal. Unless your company is completely un-technical, and at times even if so, management says home.

Learn to trust: go Agile!

Agile involves frequent, dynamic communication between outsourcing supplier and client. There’s a rigorous, yet flexible approach to the development process, which promotes increased efficiency and decreased risk. Going Agile just might get your company in the comfort zone, allowing you to make decisions freely, based on the optimal way of doing things, instead of on attaining the highest level of in-house control.

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In the meantime, I’d love to hear your opinion: do you think managing Dedicated Teams in-house is having a negative impact on factors like development time and team motivation? Does the Agile way of communicating help companies feel more comfortable with their outsourcing relationship? Leave us a comment and let me know what you think, or join us for a business-chat via e-mail.


  1. Vlad Sorin says:

    My opinion is that the battle “Trust vs Control” is a classical one and is happening not only between partners (e.g. app team vs business team or requesting team vs delivery team) but also internal to a team. Usually, the biggest problem appears when the manager or the lead of a team is not having trust in the team or, even worst, is loosing trust in his team and is trying to compensate this by applying micro management style. Here is the end of the road ! Anyway, Agile is not guaranteeing the winner in this battle but is offering a new context for the players to reach a common and healthy collaboration and mayeb even to reach the desired success.

    1. Alexandra says:

      Thank you for your thoughts! You make a very interesting point. I too believe that, with any type of business-relationship, be it between partners or internal, ‘looking over people’s shoulders’ as they do their job can have negative impact on their work – they’d feel untrusted and/or pressured, and perform more poorly than when given a bit of space and feeling encouraged. Indeed, Agile can’t guarantee success, but I’m glad to hear your experience also confirms its potential.

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