In my previous article, I wrote about personal values in the offshoring context. In this article I want to discuss the role of people in making offshoring work. Some questions related to this subject:
- Who are the people in my offshore team?
- How do I create support for offshoring among my people?
- Does the culture of my company match with the supplier’s culture?
Based on my experience with offshoring success and failure, I would say that companies that place an accent on the people, increase their chances. Let’s take a look at the three above questions.
Who are the people in my offshore team?
This is a crucial element in offshoring. Eventually, no matter how good you think your supplier is: the work is done by people and the supplier is as good as the people they put on your team. Even if your team is very big, you want to make sure that you have an influence on the selection procedure. Your people will have to cooperate with your offshore team and they should be happy to work together and to cooperate to achieve your goals.
I believe that any organization wishing to make offshoring work, should engage in the recruitment of the team members, by aligning interviews, performing tests and making sure the people ‘fit’ with your company.
How do I create support for offshoring among my people?
This question is hard to answer because every organization differs. In general, it is wise to engage the key players in the decision to offshore, from an early stage. The project manager who has to manage your offshore team should be among the supporters of the initiative. So is your management team.
The best starting point is setting out your vision and making sure everybody sees the same picture. Then define goals that you want to achieve within 1 year and goals that you want to achieve within 5/10 years. Everybody should see where you´re going.
Another important topic to address is the risk for people that they will lose their job. Many people believe that the logic outcome of outsourcing is that they will be fired. But do you really envision that? Do you create an offshore team to have extra capacity or do you want to cut down your costs and let some local people go? Do you move your current people to another job, will they have the same growth perspective?
Last but not least: let your onsite team physically meet your offshore team. You will see that as soon as they have drunk a beer together, they will start helping each other, producing better results and bringing you closer to your goals.
Does the culture of my company match with the supplier’s culture?
This last question should be asked early on in the supplier selection process. It is the basis for your cooperation, because if the cultures don’t match, you won’t have the right people on your offshore team and there will be no support from either side. Focus on the feeling you get when meeting your supplier, ask about their values, ask about the way they pay their offshore employees. Maybe you even want to interview a few people from their offshore centers to get a feeling of the company’s way of working.