The ATO's decision not to offshore software development is a much-needed reminder that despite the technical wizardry of remote/teleworking and the costs benefits of India, simple face-to-face communication cannot be bettered.
ATO second commissioner Greg Farr stressed to me over the phone
yesterday that the major reason behind the ATO's decision was
not some imagined contractual fallout with Accenture, or new-age
fears over data security, but the value of ATO developers working
in close proximity.
Were the ATO to use offshore developers, its parallel software
development method, which sees developers start coding before the
design is finished, would have had to change. The design would
have to be completed before developers thousands of kilometres
away could proceed, Farr said.
It was refreshing to hear the simple issue of face-to-face
communication, often overlooked in this modern age of e-mail conversations,
instant messaging, and remote working, given so much importance.
The ATO's simple but logical decision makes me wonder if in
all the debate over the value of offshoring, highly-theorised
arguments over skills, costs and data security have led us to
forget the importance of how the work is actually done.