If you’re just venturing into the world of business process offshoring, or BPO, it’s only natural to hit some bumps along the way. However, there are a few common stumbling blocks that you can avoid simply by reading this post. Below, we’ll take a look at the top offshoring mistakes that sabotage your efficiency and dull your competitive edge.
Mistake #1: Not Making Communication a Priority
One of the most important considerations for any business, but particularly one that operates on different shores, is communication. Without adequate communication on all levels, a business can implode.
When you work with an offshore team, it’s essential that you create a communication strategy to keeps every team player connected and informed.
However, don’t rely on email exclusively as your preferred method of communication. Email alone can present multiple challenges because:
- Email is asynchronous – Email doesn’t allow for real-time communication.
- Email isn’t time insensitive – Even though the email may arrive in seconds, you’ll still need to wait (sometimes hours) for the recipient to respond.
- Email can get lost in a crowded inbox – Your very important email may get lost in the crowd of other very important emails, or routed to a secondary inbox folder.
Instead of depending solely on email as your method of communication, incorporate other, superior forms, including:
- Video conference (Skype, Zoom, etc.)
- Voice calls (Skype, GoToMeeting, etc.)
- Chat (Slack, ChatWork, etc.)
Mistake #2: Not Allowing Time for a Smooth Transition
Once a business decides to partner with an offshore business process provider, readiness can quickly turn into impatience. One of the most compelling reasons to offshore is to reduce costs. Therefore, it makes sense that the key stakeholders in a business would like to get the processes up and running immediately, without delay.
However, the move to offshoring is a big one for most businesses and should not be handled haphazardly. In the beginning, you need to take things slowly.
Have a detailed transition plan that you follow to move the key business processes from your local office to the offshore office. Make it as realistic and time-focused as possible to avoid misunderstandings with either your local or offshore team.
Mistake #3: Not Setting the Right Expectations
While offshoring can improve your productivity and efficiency, it’s not a panacea for everything that may be wrong in your business. If you have communication problems before offshoring, you’ll have communication problems while offshoring. Unfortunately, offshoring may not magically solve all the problems inherent in your business. However, it will save costs and, if you choose the right BPO, offshoring will produce high-quality results.
When you enter into an agreement with an offshore partner, have a goal in mind and a clear path to success. Clearly identify what you need and make sure that your BPO understands those needs and can deliver them.
Mistake #4: Building a Team at the Lowest Cost
Offshoring is an attractive business solution because of lower cost, however, avoid using cost as the ultimate determiner of which BPO you should choose. If you choose a BPO based on the lowest price, you may be doing so at the expense of quality care.
In addition to cost, be sure to consider other factors including:
- Experience (How long the BPO has operated?)
- Third Party Recommendations (Read reviews and interview their customers.)
- Expertise (What business process does the BPO specialize in?)
- Access (How and how often will you communicate?)
- Common Goals (Do your goals align?)
Mistake #5: Not Properly Training
In a rush to get up and running, many businesses overlook the importance of proper training. To guarantee a successful outcome, you must take the time to educate your offshore staff on your unique processes. Otherwise, you’re asking for disappointment and disillusionment.
During the transition period, be sure to provide adequate onboarding information and resources for your new, offshore staff. Let them know what you expect from them by giving a step-by-step guide to the more complicated processes in your business. However, remember that it’s likely to be a collaboration. Therefore, be open to any suggestions from the BPO that may improve your standards of procedure.
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Mistake #6: Not Choosing a BPO Provider That Shares Your Vision
Not every BPO is right for your business. As mentioned before, if you’re only focused on budget, it’s easy to overlook the other factors, such as common vision.
What are your company’s future objectives? That’s your vision. Because your vision serves as your ultimate destination, it should dictate every decision that you make. This is why it’s essential that you choose a BPO with whose vision you can align. After all, you’re merging your culture and your customer commitment with this BPO. It’s important that you’re both focused on the same overarching goal.
In addition to matching goals, you should also make sure that the BPO lives out that goal. Visit the offshore site if possible during your initial talks to see firsthand that the BPO aligns with your company’s vision.
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Mistake #7: Not Understanding Your Offshore Staff’s Environment
In what type of environment does your offshore staff work?
In many BPOs, an offshore staff works in a large open room with hundreds of others who in turn work for hundreds of different clients. Staff turnover is often a result of dissatisfaction with one’s working environment. They may leave because of their insufferable BPO work environment, not because of the offshore client. Common offshore complaints are:
- Not feeling supported by the Human Resources department
- Concerns not met or validated by upper management
- No reliable access to and from work (may need to wait two hours or more for public transportation)
- Inferior leave policy for sickness or family care
- Oppressive social media lockdown
- Unreasonable lunch policies
While these complaints may not be something that you handle directly, it is something you should be concerned about. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself constantly working with a new face who is prone to make beginner mistakes. Before partnering with a BPO, be sure to understand their employee environment. Ask questions to make sure that the BPO treats its employees fairly and in agreement with your standards.
Mistake #8: Offshoring Too Much Too Soon
Once you see how liberating offshoring can be, it’s tempting to go all in and offshore more than one business process. While that may work for some businesses, it can overwhelm others. This is especially true if you’re offshoring too many processes before you’ve hammered out the details with the first one.
If you want to offshore multiple business processes, it’s best to do so in stages, so that you don’t put too much stress on your local team all at once.
Mistake #9: Not Understanding the Cultural Differences
When you’re working with an offshore team, there are bound to be cultural differences. That’s one of the perks of working in a global environment — every culture brings something extra to the equation. However, if you’re not prepared, cultural differences can result in communication challenges and insensitivities.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to train your local staff on how to communicate properly with offshore colleagues. Reduce email, as mentioned above, and embrace video communication. This helps to add another layer of communication (the often-universal body language cues) that can help minimize miscommunications.
Mistake #10: Micromanaging
Once you hire a BPO and give them adequate instructions, allow them to do their job. Resist the urge to follow up every day. If you hire a BPO that you trust and has provided you with the correct deliverables on time during the initial trial period, then likewise trust the process. Otherwise, it can be disheartening for the BPO to continue working with an excessively demanding client.
This isn’t to say that you should adopt a “hand’s off” mentality, either. However, seek to strike a healthy balance where you allow the BPO to do their job and you only interject when the services don’t meet your standards or deadlines.
To ensure the best outcome for your business, remember the above offshoring mistakes and avoid them at all costs. Also be sure to adjust your expectations and have a plan for a successful transition of business processing.
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