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Fast-track to efficiency: three principles of great offshoring strategies

Organisations in every industry are turning to offshore strategies in an effort to realise efficiencies and capitalise on the wealth of technical talent available. From large corporates, to hungry start-ups and small businesses, Australian companies are increasingly launching their own offshore teams to accelerate growth.

Executives looking to expand software development resources, streamline financial processes or enhance their customer experience offer understand the value in augmenting their in-house operations with offshore capability.  However, many struggle to articulate the right approach for their specific business requirements. Successfully offshoring roles or processes is not about offloading that work. Nor is it about bulk hiring of rote resource, managed at arms-length on rigid contractual terms.

Today’s leading offshoring solutions are anchored in the belief that flexibility is the key to driving growth: flexibility to scale up, scale down or access different skills at speed.  And the executives taking best advantage of offshore expertise recognise how critical it is to partner with a provider that understands their business.

Here are the three principles they swear by:

1. Know how to get the best out of your offshore people

A common characteristic across highly productive offshore teams is how closely they’re integrated with their onshore counterparts and the organisation’s broader goals.

As a general rule, offshore team members should be onboarded in the same way as onshore employees and integrated quickly into their broader team or division’s communications loop. It’s fine for an offshore team to have their own distinct ‘pod’, but that pod should also include members of onshore pod to ensure a constant connection between the offshore and in-house teams.  In today’s post-pandemic distributed work model, this approach shouldn’t feel like a foreign concept for managers.

If you’re expecting great output and continued high performance from your offshore employees, it goes without saying that they should be treated as equals and critical assets to your organisation. Ensure that your offshore team feels responsible for the growth of your company by giving them visibility and a voice in your bigger vision and purpose.

2. Invest in your first hires

In the early stages of establishing an offshore team, the first few hires are extremely critical since all future hires will be built around these individuals. Often, companies will ensure their first offshore employees demonstrate leadership capability, so they can be developed over time to play in role in selecting future offshore hires.  These people will invariably set the cultural tone, so it’s critical that they have a strong connection with their onshore managers and colleagues.

When international borders are again open to travel, investing in face-to-face time once or twice a year is an invaluable way to strengthen relationships and build camaraderie.  Many companies will ensure their team leaders or senior offshore employees take part in annual team building events onshore, cementing their understanding of, and role in, delivering strategic company outcomes.  This investment is a shortcut to long-term loyalty, commitment and increased discretionary effort from your offshore team.

3. Make sure you’re offshoring the right roles

It’s a common misconception that most roles can be offshored.  While there are plenty of providers who’ll enthusiastically recruit for any role their client requests, that’s also a shortcut to disappointment.

Great offshore strategies reflect their company’s broader strategic direction – rather than being a broad-brush response to reducing operating cost, offshoring is viewed as a way to support existing teams and functions become more efficient or augment current capability.  That mindset directly informs the hiring approach.

Leading offshore providers will insist on taking time to understand a company’s two-to-three year outlook and plans for growth.  They’ll advise on whether a first-level customer service team should be filled with identical low-level roles, or a mix of experience levels. If a company decides to offshore its payroll function, a smart offshore provider will break that function down into discrete processes and determine what capability is needed: a senior full time role or several part-time junior roles?

If you’re managing an offshore team and none of these principles feature in your planning, perhaps it’s time to revisit your strategy.  Whether it’s one employee or a large team, knowing where to start when you’re building, managing and scaling an offshore team, can feel like an uphill battle – but it doesn’t have to be.  The right offshore provider should feel like a genuine business partner, guiding the development of your approach and giving you absolute confidence in your investment.