Struggling with the complexities of an offshoring initiative?
In this article discusses some factors that may impact the success of your offshoring initiative.
Published 7 Mar 2018
Not all offshoring initiatives are simple relocations of operational roles; in fact from our experience, very few are. They take time, energy and expertise in change management; readiness checks, process design and implementation, recruitment and more.
Change Fox is not your typical BPO provider, we are what we call a down-stream service provider. We offer services to organisations seeking to or currently offshoring, as well as, BPO providers looking to develop internal talent and services while also looking to implement strategic human resource management principles for placed staff.
Part of this is our Strategic Implementation Partnerships that are applicable to both types of organisations in the offshoring environment.
There are many factors involved in an offshoring initiative, some of which are discussed here;
What assumptions, perceptions and expectations do the customer have about offshoring?
There are common perceptions about what offshoring is all about. Mostly it's viewed as a cost-saving exercise (which is obviously an important part!) which can be a problem when they begin to realise that there is an investment in time, effort and yes money to build, integrate and maintain an effective offshored team.
This is a topic I've covered before in my article Five Offshoring Myths I've Witnessed and Strongly Disagree With
During a "value-add" implementation partnership with Change Fox, an organisation's perceptions are explored in detail and expectations are reset where needed to ensure that outcomes are realistic, building a better relationship between the customer, Change Fox, and the BPO Provider.
What types and number of roles are being placed?
The types and number of roles being placed are really important to defining the engagement between customer, Change Fox and the BPO Provider.
Do the roles require voice? Are they technical in nature (such as developers)? Are they going to be a challenge culturally for the team? What timezone coverage is required?
These questions are explored again through the engagement with Change Fox and a viable strategy for recruitment and management of staff is developed with the customer and BPO provider.
What systems and processes are already in place within the customers business and how effective will they be with a dispersed team?
This is an oft-neglected topic during offshoring sales processes and it can be critical to the success of the team going forward. You need to be able to communicate effectively, easily delegate and assign work and have visibility of that works progress without introducing complex, frustrating manual processes.
How will you talk? How often? Who will be involved? How are tasks assigned, delivered, managed and reported on?
These are problems that are not as well thought through with local teams but become essential with dispersed teams. Even more so when teams are operating across multiple time zones. You do not want to introduce a manual process that will frustrate your offshored team while burning out your local team.
Change Fox can review these processes, recommend changes or new systems and assist with their implementation.
How is the local team feeling about the offshoring initiative and will they resist or actively sabotage it?
As mentioned above, offshoring can have negative perceptions, and local staff are not immune to these. The announcement of building an offshored team is often followed by anxiety and nervousness from local staff about their own job security.
For these reasons, regular communication about the initiative and it's strategic importance to the organisation is important. This should go far enough to reassure team members that their roles are not being moved or replaced.
Including local leadership in this process is one effective method of achieving buy-in and support for the initiative while reducing anxiety.
Change Fox will always meet with key local stakeholders to gauge their attitude and raise risks accordingly, allowing for proactive strategies to mitigate and avoid behaviours that may negatively impact the offshoring initiative.
One of the most common negative responses is the hoarding of knowledge and resistance to handover job functions and share knowledge with offshored team members. Change Fox will assist with documenting key knowledge transfer goals and ensure that schedules are in place to hand over and then test the transferred knowledge.
What levels of service is the customer expecting from the BPO provider and is this realistic?
The last point is also about expectations that a customer will have for BPO providers. A topic that is most likely in your contract but not proactively discussed through your team setup.
By way of an example, the more technical or unique a role is (to the customer), the more the customer must be integrated into those processes for them to be effective. Generally, in these cases, the BPO provider is not responsible for the job analysis and design, and as such, this responsibility should fall on the customer. The roll on effect of this is that the customer must also take ownership of performance management and development planning.
Another area that is often not discussed well enough is the labour laws that affect your offshored staff. There is often a perception that staff can be removed from a role immediately, but in most cases, there are similar protections in place such as; notice periods and job protection (three formal warnings) etc.
As highlighted above, there are complexities when offshoring operational roles, however, with the right expertise and supplier engagement, your offshoring initiatives can be highly successful. You can build an effective team of committed offshored staff to support the growth of your business or customers.