Choosing the right offshore team is about more than making a cost-saving – you have to consider issues of cultural differences, time zones, infrastructure and talent. Daniel Alexander, Country Manager at Converga, shares insights on how to make the right decision.
Although on paper using an offshore team for the process-driven areas of your business may look like the best option in terms of cost, there are other crucial factors to consider; some are cultural and practical, others are about talent and infrastructure.
By making the right decisions at the start, offshoring could be of huge benefit to your business and give you more time to focus on what you do best - your core business. But there are a few questions you need to ask to get it right. Let’s use the Philippines as an example.
What are the cultural similarities between the two countries?
Finding points of similarities between your offshore and onshore teams will help you establish a good working relationship.
Taking the Philippines and Australia as an example, the existing similarities can assist with a cohesive working relationship. The two countries share many of the same morals and values; prioritising family and friends while respecting education and career, but ultimately understanding the importance of maintaining a work/life balance.
What are the practical considerations?
It helps to have an overlap in time zones, enabling face-to-face interaction between team members. Again, this helps relationship-building between colleagues.
The flight time between the Philippines and Australia is seven hours, with Australia being only two-three hours ahead. Matching our Australian day shift times is attractive to the Filipino workforce; they can start at 6am their time and finish up by 3pm, giving them more time with their families and avoiding rush hour traffic.
Language considerations are also important. A certain amount of English language proficiency is needed to prevent miscommunication. For example, this is an obvious concern if you are thinking about setting up an offshore call centre.
For Filipinos, English is the language of education and business. The Philippines has a 97 per high literacy rate, and a very good command of the English language. To further integrate the two workforces, a good Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service will conduct cultural awareness training, teaching Aussie slang and pronunciation to your offshore staff.
What is the labour pool like?
Finding a workforce with the right skills and experience is critical to the success of your offshore team and it’s worth understanding the depth of the labour pool in your chosen location.
People in the Philippines are highly educated and experienced for the available roles. A BPO role as an accounts payable clerk, for example, is a respectable and sought after career. This means you can access Filipino AP clerks with at two to three years’ experience working with some big-name companies or small start-ups, who’ll can bring valuable experience to the table.
Is the infrastructure reliable?
Reliable infrastructure is essential for any outsourcing enterprise. Fast, stable internet and a dependable power supply is the lifeline of an offshore business, as well as having resources in place to cope with extreme weather conditions.
In the Philippines, BPO facilities have good internet access, with telco companies providing fibre optic cable. The office facilities also have backup generators, meaning there will be no downtime in a blackout.
What are the cost-savings?
One of the main reasons for offshoring is, of course, is the considerable cost-savings. Outsourcing means a reduction in overheads and operating costs, giving you an opportunity to minimise your office space in your onshore operations.
Hiring a talented, experienced Filipino worker does not come with the associated office space costs or the need for payroll, taxes and insurance. All of these risks and costs can be covered by using good BPO, incorporating it into a monthly fee. Additionally, if the staff aren’t performing as needed, the BPO service can manage the situation.
Is it right for you?
If you can find a BPO service that addresses all the above considerations for your business, then outsourcing could be an effective decision. A well-matched offshore team will give you the opportunity to concentrate on customer-facing activities and the time to build on the core function of your business.