By Vol Ber for Forbes
In 2017, many companies decide to outsource different aspects of their companies. Outsourcing offshore can yield substantial savings. However, there are many risks involved. Because I own a boutique outsourcing agency, I understand current trends and worries in the field. I've also reached out to four other successful outsourcing companies whose founders shared their hurdles. Below are the problems and how they overcame them.
Mark Gross of Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) pointed out that while organizations outsource offshore to save money, there is often risk and a false economy. Offshore capabilities have gotten more sophisticated over the past 20 years, but the professional-level management and planning needed to reduce risk and get a project going quickly are often missing. Experience with new approaches to automation such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) would not only reduce cost, but also allow for higher quality and better consistency.
To solve this problem, Gross learned to get the best of both worlds. The company's project management and development groups are U.S.-based, experienced in modern management, in U.S. time zones and focused on providing a critical layer of professional-level project planning, oversight and quality review.
My experience confirms that this is the best way to align processes professionally in the outsourcing business. Software teams should work closely with project teams to incorporate leading-edge automation into the process, further reducing costs and improving product quality and consistency -- an approach that also allows you to scale rapidly and to process the immense data streams. In order to meet clients’ professional level management expectations, we utilize special project management software tools like Jira.
Outsourcing companies that offer tutoring services are often not available to do so around the clock. Their success is limited if they cannot extend help at any given time to those who need it.
Fawad Saleem, founder and CEO at SolutionInn, told me that drawback spurred him to create a platform that would offer tutoring help 24/7. His company provides a variety of tutoring and homework services. Emailing a tutor guarantees a response within an hour, any time of the day. This became possible as they collected a knowledge base of about 700,000 tutorials online. He hired teachers from every time zone to be available to anyone who wants to study.
For your business, I would recommend applying a concierge-like communication style to your daily interactions. In my experience, this level of service requires 24/7 contact center support to train and tune our chatbots.
Significant Language, Cultural And Educational Disparities
Eli Willner, President of Trebuchet Outsourcing Services, told me that one barrier to an effective outsourcing experience is the very real difference between a typical employee in the U.S. and even the best offshore personnel. There are significant language, cultural and educational disparities between the U.S. and the developing countries where outsourcing projects are often sent. These disparities have a marked impact on the ability of many offshore teams to fully understand the nuances of a project and to execute effectively.
How did Wilner’s team solve the problem? “Our workforce is comprised of American professionals who are currently living in Israel, where both wages and attrition are lower than in the U.S.,” he said. Despite the lower cost, the quality of the work produced using this approach is often better than that obtained domestically, because in his experience, people are typically overqualified for the tasks they are assigned.
This approach also allows more higher-level tasks to be outsourced than is possible with traditional outsourcing. The ability to move tasks at all levels offshore permits complex projects to be outsourced to a single vendor, resulting in easier project management, better communication, faster turnarounds, more effective quality control and much greater overall cost savings.
My back-office is based in Kyiv, and we require every employee on the support team to pass the TOEFL test. Be sure your own team has experience working in different times zones globally and can account for fluctuations and time shifts.
Company's Attachment To Its Brand And Processes
A company's brand is very sensitive. From its logo to products to the customer service companies offer, each touchpoint is an opportunity to delight your customers. If not handled correctly, however, these assets can be the cause of customer attrition. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that companies can be reticent to hand over a segment of their brands to an outsourcing company.
Marilyn Tyfting, Senior VP and CPO of TELUS, told me her business partners closely with clients from the onset in order to learn their values, understand their customers and determine how they want to be perceived. By extracting this information early in the relationship, she is able to create highly-focused hiring profiles to ensure there is a cultural fit between her team members and clients. She also designs workspaces that replicate clients’ aesthetics and creates customized training programs. If you're in the outsourcing business, consider trying one of these innovative and outside-the-box approaches yourself to ensure that your own vision aligns with that of your clients.