You know the feeling of getting home from the airport.
You get in the taxi, and as the driver wings his way through the streets, you know your way. Should the taxi driver dart down some crazy avenue, or decide to take you for a spin, you're instantly able to avoid being taken for a ride.
But when you're in an unknown city, you rarely have such luck. You don't know the streets and are not quite sure whether you're being taken for a ride, or it just happens to be a long ride.
And outsourcing may feel like you're being taken for a ride.
So what are we to do? Should we outsource without knowing anything about the topic (e.g. should we outsource our website construction without any knowledge of how to manage the website?). Or should we outsource projects based on the fact that you've learned a little bit, and like the ‘hometown taxi ride' you're in control (even if you're not actually driving the taxi).
I'm no control freak.
But I find that if I outsource something, I need to have a smattering of understanding of the subject. I also find that if it's mission critical or something that affects my day-to-day work (e.g. websites, design, etc), then knowing and understanding the topic and the applications enables me to get a better understaing of how to direct the outsourced job.
Of course this takes time…
Imagine wanting to have a site up in Joomla, and then learning a bit (or a lot) of Joomla. Imagine wanting to have your book designed in InDesign and learning a bit (or a lot) of InDesign. It all takes time. And yet, I often find myself learning the skills that I've outsourced, if only to be able to know where I'm going and how to get out of a mess if needed.
Do you think it's overkill? Should you just outsource and do nothing? Or should you actually put in the effort to learn?