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Chapter 12. Staffing > An Offshore Model

An Offshore Model

With all the challenges described throughout this chapter that may prevent organizations from locating and hiring high-quality usability staff, other options may need to be explored. Once the benefits of usability are understood, the spread of its use becomes viral. There is a rapid project-level increase in the desire to apply user-centered engineering practices. This increased interest puts unmanageable pressure on the (typically overcommitted) usability staff. This is the choke point: Once an understanding of the strategic impact of usability emerges, the internal usability staff typically cannot keep up with the demand for support. The model does not scale up easily.

This understaffing occurs because, as mentioned previously, well-trained usability specialists are difficult to find or very expensive. Ramping up the expert internal staff required to meet the increasing demand can be prohibitive. Consulting companies provide support for strained internal staff, but the cost of using consultant-based support for routine and sustained usability activities is also prohibitive. The need, however, is critical. Without sufficient staff to do the usability work, institutionalization will falter. Companies could continue to apply user-centered design principles to a small range of projects, but the lost opportunity cost of such a strategy is huge. Finding cost-effective usability staff offshore can provide a scalable solution.


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