Outsourcing pitfalls are everywhere.
I had a client who was quite distressed because his company’s website was only 90% complete and his developer had disappeared. He asked me to help him complete his website. I found out that he outsourced the development of his website to a developer he found on one of those brokerage types of outsourcing companies.
My client’s experience is not uncommon. I have heard many outsourcing disaster stories from small to large businesses.
Outsourcing is a legitimate business strategy to operate your business more efficiently so you can increase your profit. But just like any strategy, you need to do your homework and monitor your baby when it is up and running.
5 Must Dos to Avoid Outsourcing Pitfalls.
Who Are the People Behind the Business
You have to find out who are the people behind the business. Your first stop is of course the company’s website. Some websites give you information about their people. You can also double check their profile on networking sites such as LinkedIn.
However, many websites do not actually tell you who their people are. If this is the case and you think the company’s website looks ok for what you want to do, send them an email and ask them to send you information about their people. Once you get a reply, have a chat with them. You can chat with people overseas for free these days using apps like Skype or Viber. You should get a feel on how competent they are by asking pointed questions and asking them for samples of their previous work.
Keep in mind that your aim is like when you are interviewing somebody for a job. You want to make sure that they actually have the relevant skills and experience to do the job.
Suffice to say, you need to find out their level of skills and experience relevant to the work that you want to have done. If it is for a website, ask them for examples of reference websites. If it is for call centre support, ask them for a list of their clients and you might even ask them if you could listen to their agents. If it is for accounting services, ask them for a list of clients that they are currently servicing.
You can ask to speak with previous clients for reference but in my experience, most companies will not give you this information because of commercial confidentiality issues.
We, ourselves do not provide this information for the same reason although we are happy to provide the company names of previous clients and examples of our work for general reference.
Do They Have A Local Representative
This is super critical.
Imagine that in the middle of your project, you encountered some serious problems that you need to urgently discuss with your provider. You tried to contact them on their listed numbers, by email and even calling them on skype but with no luck. And this is a common outsourcing pitfall.
If you have ever tried to find a lost relative overseas, this is the same feeling.
It is super critical that the outsourcing company that you decide to deal with has a local representative. Better still, that the local representative is actually the owner of the business.
This means that if ever you have any questions or concerns or encounter some problems with your project, all you have to do is pick up the phone and speak with the local representative.
In the same vein, it is also important that the company you are dealing with has a local bank account. It is much easier and costs less to pay them locally. And if anything goes wrong, it is always easier to deal with your local bank than an overseas bank.
Check Out The Place
Remember that holiday you were thinking of? Now could be a good opportunity to do it.
If you can, it is a good idea to visit the office of the company that you are going to use for your outsourcing work. This becomes more critical if your project is customer facing and a sizeable one.
You have to check if the company actually has an office, where it is located, the quality of its facilities and equipment, IT infrastructure (highly critical) and most importantly, the quality of the people working for the company including the training and support that the company provides to its people.
I do know of some businesses who are happy for their outsourced staff to work virtually – meaning working from home because they can pay them less.
But working from home for your overseas staff who are located in another country like the Philippines or India is a completely different cup of tea to your staff who are working from home in Australia.
As a business, you have to ask yourself if this is something that you are happy for your clients to know and if anything goes wrong, do you have the back-up which a proper office facility can only provide.
Cheap Means Cheap Anywhere in the World
I am often flabbergasted by people who tell me that another company has offered to provide them with a service for $10 an hour when we have offered to do the same for $15 an hour and when the same service cost $45 per hour in Australia.
Quality costs money anywhere you go in the world. The prices may be lower than in Australia but there is always a quality differential regardless of where you are in the world.
This is the same for quality people. People with high level skills and experience are always able to command a premium for their services wherever they are. Providing quality service also means having quality infrastructure. And yes, the cost of maintaining high quality infrastructure is also at a premium.
Now if you are looking for the cheapest service you can find and you are not concerned about quality, reliability and dependability then go ahead and find and squeeze as much as you can from your provider.
But if you want quality, reliability and high level of customer service then keep in mind that there is always a premium for quality regardless where you are in the world.
And it will probably help you sleep better at night too!