Offshoring has a lot of appeal, and Australian businesses in record numbers are setting up offshore teams. However, far too many are getting a poor result by having fundamentally flawed methods, or by using staffing facilities which themselves have flawed methods.
The Philippines has a lot of appeal for offshoring, due to its similar time zone, the quantity of educated workers, the quality of their English, and the low (but ethical) cost of labour. It is also a very familiar and easy place to visit, and many Australian business owners who attend our strategy tours are surprised at just how much it feels like doing business in Australia.
They therefore often ignore or miss the subtle differences, but it is those differences which are the key to succeeding offshore. There are 10 key areas which cause failure with offshoring and all of them can be avoided by any business which has been shown how.
One of the most common areas for failure lies in finding the right staff. The Philippines is not short of staff with the right qualifications; it turns out 450,000 new university graduates every year, with a total working population of around 60 million. My prediction of around 1,000,000 roles shifting offshore from Australia over 10 years will soak up only a tiny percentage of the available talent.
Every facility you contact will say how many skilled people are available to work and explain that we can easily lure them from local employers because, as a foreign company, you’ll be paying a much higher salary. However, getting the skills that are equivalent to what we expect in Australia is a very different story and not one you’ll often be told.
The veterans of offshoring know that you have two choices: you either fully train them on every process, or you become absolutely scientifically brilliant at recruitment to find the people who can already do what you need done. Those who are not diligent about this when building their team will often get a poor result.
Training from scratch may seem unnecessary when you’re hiring university graduates with 3-5 years’ experience in roles such as IT engineering, drafting, quantity surveying or accounting. It is true that you will absolutely find large chunks of skills already developed, and those areas you can skim over quickly in the training.
However, this method allows you to identify the gaps in skill or knowledge, and correct those gaps before they causes issues with clients or services. I guarantee that there WILL be gaps, and you WILL be making lots of assumptions based upon your Australian expectations.
When conducting the training, we recommend not to outsource it. Run it your way, with your people and your processes, giving it your culture, and you’ll end up with a skilled, consistent and loyal team.
The alternative, finding the top 1% who are already guns; that is something of a science which took five years to figure out, but like many things, is not difficult once you know how. Attendees of our offshoring master class learn this proven method.
Without a solid recruitment system, there is a lot of guesswork with offshore staffing, and far too many times our Australian assumptions actually prevent us from finding the best people.
Scott Linden Jones built several businesses in the IT industry since 2002. He is the founding adviser at Easy Offshore, providing offshore educational and implementation services to Australian businesses. In 2012 he authored a book on globalism called The Third Wave.