human resources

Specialisation in the outsourcing industry means greater opportunities for Australian SMEs

Scott Linden Jones /

One of the things we teach directors and CEOs in our workshops and on our offshore tours is that “outsourcing” is no longer what most people assume, and the term itself is now misleading.

Around 10 years ago the call centre industry began to splinter into different staffing models that suited different sizes and style of business. At last count there are nine different staffing models that an Australian business could use for employing staff offshore! One of those nine is the traditional “call centre” that most people imagine is the entire outsourcing industry.

Industries, by the very nature of competitive forces, tend to improve over time in the quality of products and services they produce, and to adapt to what the market wants.

Offshore outsourcing is no different, and the call centres of the industry 10 years ago bear little resemblance to the variety of staffing solutions available today.

Now there are staffing models which allow any sized business to set up their own team, select and manage their own full-time staff, and control every facet of a task’s process and quality. It’s more like using a sophisticated serviced office than it is traditional “outsourcing”.

Global resourcing, just like the technology on which it flows, is making the geography of teams largely irrelevant because many white-collar skills are universal.

As I proposed in my 2013 book The Third Wave, this shift to micro-globalism means that the geographic location of business tasks are being selected deliberately, in order to optimise quality and cost. For many tasks in many industries, Australia is no longer the logical choice.

Put simply, when a range of tasks can be done to the same quality, more cost effectively in a location other than Australia, then businesses will shift those tasks to their offshore team. In my experience the average team cost in the Philippines is around one fifth of a similarly skilled team in Australia. 

This is not theory. This is already so far along the timeline of adoption that you would have to now say we are in the mainstream adoption phase, within many industries, and every size of business. 

Meanwhile, the “outsourcing” industry CONTINUES to evolve.

Just in the last few years, the rise of specialist facilities has gathered momentum. These are facilities which specialise in a particular industry, and by doing this are potentially able to more accurately fill the needs of their Australian clients in that industry. 

For example, hiring IT staff is a specialised game. General recruiters can do it to some extent, as can generalist staffing facilities. However, a facility which lives and breathes IT, recruits only IT, and has a management team which comes from IT, is more likely to consistently recruit the best IT people for their Australian clients. 

These specialist facilities are also more likely to have solutions for the challenges faced by the industry the specialise in. Specialist facilities in the accounting industry, for example, now provide various training courses for their client’s staff like GST training, MYOB/Xero training, and even Australian-recognised accounting certifications. They are also highly aware that their clients are often their own worst enemy, and better able to predict common implementation mistakes like poor client communication with their offshore team, inadequate training, or typical gaps in business processes. So they are solving next-level challenges that their clients will face, using their deep industry experience.

Just because a facility is a specialist, however, does not mean they are necessarily great. I’ll take a great generalist facility over an inconsistent specialist facility any day.

Right now I am aware of specialist facilities that provide full-time teams at any scale for each of the following industries: IT engineering/support, software development, software QA, accounting/financial services, legal, drafting/architecture, debtor management, digital marketing, RTOs, and medical transcription, and the list keeps growing. As much as possible at Easy Offshore we try to have multiple providers on our recommended list, in order to give clients choices and allow them to choose the best fit for their business or their preferred facility location. 

If you’d like to know more about these specialist industry providers who are already providing full-time teams to some of your competitors, then please drop me a line or attend one of our seminars. Scott Linden Jones has 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.

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