Argentina is seen by many companies as an ideal location for outsourcing [http://www.stevemezak.com/?cat=32].
Argentina also has a large labour pool, which is highly literate, both in terms of IT and language. Spanish is the first language of Argentina, and English is the second.
The country developed its IT talent during the dot-com boom of the Nineties.
Argentina also boasts a robust, deregulated telecoms network, and an abundant supply of office-space.
The Latin American country is also attractive because of its cultural similarities to the West.
Argentina pros and cons
Pros - Argentina is rich in natural resources, has a highly literate and skilled IT population, and a diversified industrial base.
Cons - Argentina's government has done little to support or develop IT outsourcing over the past decade. It has also suffered some difficult economic problems - inflation, external debt, capital flight, budget deficits. However, the economy is improving.
Amongst the Eastern European outsourcing locations, Bulgaria competes with Slovakia, Hungary, Poland Russia and the Ukraine.
Eastern Europe is attracting many Western Europe firms looking to outsource, because of the region's cultural affinity with the West.
Like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria's relatively low costs and strong education system are key factors in its favour.
Bulgaria has benefited from improvements in its business environment, as a result of reforms carried out to qualify for European Union membership. Bulgaria joined the EU on January 1, 2007.
Bulgarian outsourcing vendors excel in the more challenging programming technologies, with developers being well versed in C++, Java and open source.
Pros - As an EU member, Bulgaria has a close affinity with western European countries and businesses. The IT outsourcing sector has benefitted from economic reforms, and the country offers highly skilled developers.
Cons - The cost of outsourcing to Bulgaria can be higher than outsourcing to the Far or Middle East and Africa.
China provides an excellent supply of low-cost outsourcing resources - labour in particular - as is the case with India.
Secondly, if western companies are dealing with customers or companies who have Asian headquarters, there is a language and cultural advantage to outsourcing to China. For example, in cities like Shanghai, engineers tend to be multi-lingual, speaking Japanese and Chinese.
However, when it comes to the English language capability of Chinese workers, this tends to be unsatisfactory for many western businesses.
China also lacks good protection for intellectual property, so software or products could be duplicated with little comeback.
Another consideration is that China is several time zones away for western companies, particularly US firms, which can make communicating hard work.
China pros and cons
Pros - China offers low-cost outsourcing, and strong links with Asian markets. It is also worth considering for low-cost software development.
Cons - Intellectual property protection is limited, language may be a barrier in working with Chinese vendors and workers, and China is many time zones away.
As an IT outsourcing region, the Middle East and Africa is growing as a home to remote services for global companies in Europe, Asia and the US.
Egypt is recognised for its young working population, large multilingual workforce, solid infrastructure and competitive cost structure.
Egyptian outsourcing firms claim that their language skills and low labour cost would be able to compete with India in terms of handling outsourced work.
Egypt pros and cons
Pros - Egypt is growing in popularity, boasting a large multilingual workforce, and solid IT infrastructure.
Cons - Egypt, and the Middle East region as a whole, continues to be politically volatile. As such, it may be unappealing to some Western businesses.
5. The Philippines
Southeast Asian nations are continuing to build up an outsourcing presence. The Philippines is one of the faster growing countries, vying with Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.
The Philippines is strong in back-office outsourcing, in addition to its traditional contact centre services.
Back-office firms provide finance and accounting, HR management, payroll, logistics and publishing.
Recent currency appreciation has driven wages up by a third, but the country has managed to stay cost competitive despite this.
The Philippines has a close cultural affinity with the US, and workers have a good command of English.
It is a popular choice for companies that want to move their low-level maintenance work offshore.
Philippines pros and cons
Pros - The Philippines is a good location for straightforward software development projects, business process outsourcing, and legacy application maintenance, for a good price.
Cons - The time zone difference may cause problems. The country's software services sector is not as big or broad as, say, India. There is also the question of political instability.
This was first published in December 2008