A relatively controversial topic still in IT today is outsourcing, and as a manager of a team of developers in India I have lots of opinions on this, especially after a recent two week trip to Bangalore to visit my team (more coming soon on that). However, this post is about a different type of outsourcing, one that we all do on a regular basis. It's something I've struggled with a lot lately: how valuable is my free time? Or, more specifically, should I try to fix my leaky fridge myself and should I consider hiring a housekeeper? Almost all of us have paid for a haircut, taxi, or a restaurant cooked meal. Many of us have paid for a car repair, oil change, computer tech support, a basic plumbing repair, furniture delivery, or a babysitter. So the question is, where does one draw the line? Does one hire someone to do a relatively easy to learn task like painting a room? Making a decision on what to outsource is much more complicated than calculating simply calculating the value of one's free time based on how much I earn (although that is definitely part of the equation). A few minutes brainstorm came up with some of the following factors:
- moral/ethical reasons - am I comfortable willingly subjecting someone to a disgusting task like cleaning my bathroom?
- discretionary money leftover in your budget - regardless of how much money I make, can I afford this? What else could I be spending (or saving) my money on? Does the market price make sense?
- amount of free time - am I outsourcing because I'm lazy or because I'm too busy doing other things
- technical skills - do I have the skills and knowledge to fix my fridge?
- tools - if fixing my fridge costs $200, but requires a $250 tool to replace a $10 part...
- risk - is the risk of potentially damaging my fridge worth the potential savings?
- security - am I comfortable leaving my home and its possessions in the arms of a complete stranger?
- satisfaction - will doing the job myself bring some sort of satisfactory reward
- who you are outsourcing to (local or independent business vs. large company) - am I directly supporting a fellow human struggling to get by or am I helping some unknown shareholders?
So, what else do you factor in when making decisions like this? What's the most interesting thing you've outsourced?
For the record, I think I'm going to hire someone to fix my fridge, but stick to cleaning my own bathrooms