Outsourcing Turnaround

Stunned by a telephone call, a Swamplot correspondent who works for a small Houston architecture firm weighs in on the latest turn in the U.S. construction downturn:

For the last few years, our firm has been hit up pretty regularly by agencies trying to get us to outsource our CAD drawing or 3D rendering work to some low cost labor pool in India, where they can supposedly do everything our employees do for much cheaper. So I was a bit surprised to get a call yesterday from one of these agencies based out of Chicago that went a little different than what I expected.

When I told the caller, who had an Indian accent, that we didn’t have any work to outsource, he said that wasn’t what he was calling about. He said he was working with developers in India as well as Dubai, Bahrain, and a number of other middle eastern countries I had never heard of and wanted to know if my firm wanted to get work from them. Obviously there’s nothing new about working for international clients, but coming from one of these agencies it definitely felt like a moment where flows in the global outsourcing pipeline had suddenly stopped and were now ready to start moving in reverse.

One Comment

  • Well, that’s good news.

    Most people don’t realize that as much that has been outsourced in the US, the outsourcing has create whole new job markets that in the end created more jobs than outsourced.

    The civil engineering firm I work for outsources chunks of our plan sets to a company out of Thailand. The mostly do our plan and profile work for roadways in subdivisions and for public works projects. This part of the construction plan production is extremely mundane and time consuming. The outsourcing agency charges per page (not hour!) to complete the work. This saves our clients money and also makes us flexible by not having too much CAD staff during slow periods (like now).

    We are the only firm doing this in Houston for civil engineering projects in Land Development and Public Works (linear infrastructure) sectors.

    The good news is that the outsourcing agency now seems to become a clearing house for work. A lot of firms would love to take on work where they can get whether in my field or architecture. Work is work. The opportunities that local (US based) firms will receive would be very beneficial for the future.