Appscore – January 2020
Should I Outsource Work Overseas?
I am constantly receiving questions about whether or not outsourcing is worth it when it comes to building a good quality team. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer when you’re comparing an off-site team with one in-house and the list of pros and cons change from business to business. In my own personal experience, I have found that just because something saves you a few dollars initially, it doesn’t mean that it will benefit your business in the long run.
I’ve had my fair share of hits and misses when it comes to getting work done and while sourcing crew from overseas can be a cheaper way to produce a large volume of work, it doesn’t always equate to the quality that gives you a competitive edge. Here are some of the biggest things you should keep in mind when you’re deciding if outsourcing will work for your business, so you can learn from my experiences.
Navigating different time zones can cause stress when it comes to managing a team – especially when something goes wrong. The difficulty of dealing with a team who is sleeping while you’re in the middle of your working hours is something you can’t grasp in its entirety until you’re facing a crisis and can’t get ahold of your team members.
Time zones will affect the amount of work your company produces daily (especially if you’re not overly organised), as well as the crucial turnaround times for waiting clients. Being prompt is important for your ongoing relationship with your clients and having this jeopardised by different time zones can ruin the trust in your company in the long run.
Previously when I’ve outsourced work overseas, getting changes made quickly has been a real challenge. Having a team in-house means they can react, anticipate and take on feedback in real-time. There have been times when the off-shore team has just gotten something completely wrong on a project and when I’m not able to physically sit down and go over projects with them, it creates some infuriating communication issues that can be easily fixed by using an in-house team. When you take into account how much work an in-house team completes, coupled with how fast they can respond to change requests, they actually work at a comparable rate to an offshore crew.
A good in-house team that can easily pivot between tasks is invaluable to your business and in my opinion, that just can’t be replaced by the cheaper overseas option.
The speed of an offshore team can be a massive hindrance, especially when it comes to fixing mistakes in their work. Think of how time-consuming it is when mistakes or problems are found in completed work. Now imagine trying to convey this, on top of the needed changes, to a team in another country. This opportunity cost can work out to be quite problematic if you’re dealing with inconsistencies that need explanations and a lot of back and forth to iron out.
Language barriers, cultural work differences and limited skill sets can also create problems when it comes to tight turnarounds. I’ve worked on projects where the off-shore team needs so much back and forth to make a simple change that I would have been better off just investing extra cash in a local team who can get the job done, without the added frustrations.
The speed of a local team makes up for the extra cost to source skills locally. For example, when I outsourced web development, the number of changes I needed, combined with the miscommunication put me off ever doing it again! I prefer to pick a talented local team who can turn around projects ASAP.
Another thing I have found when outsourcing is a loss in my brand’s authenticity, along with weakening the strong tone of voice I’ve worked so hard to create. Sure, you can hire an overseas team who create results for you, but it can end up diluting your brand’s identity.
I’ve noticed a big difference when employing a team locally who have a shared passion, vision and drive to help my business succeed, something lost when you’re employing people you’ve never met on the other side of the world.
Creating consistency through your work and your staff isn’t something to take lightly. I find this strongly ties in with the cultural differences faced using an off-shore team. Little, but important things, such as brand values and styling can be completely lost in translation, resulting in inconsistencies within your company that can be easily avoided with a well-trained in-house team.
It’s no groundbreaking statement when I say you get what you pay for and this is especially true with outsourcing. You may be initially saving money, but it could be costing you the quality that comes with investing in a team qualified with proven skills. I have found that training and skillsets really do vary from country to country, so just because they have qualifications, there’s no guarantee the end result will meet your standards.
The same can be said for the quality of programs used in the development process when you’re outsourcing. I know from experience that when you look overseas for your developers you relinquish some control over the project and can’t handpick the people, programs, or skills used to create the finished product. This has dramatically lowered the quality of the development which can, again, affect credibility in the long run.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it could be even more of a headache than you initially realised! When you’re working with a team from another country, the language and cultural barriers can mean you spend more time explaining how to do the job and less time quality checking to make sure the work is up to scratch. I’ve had times when the language barrier has caused serious problems while I’m trying to relay customer feedback to the team and expressing urgency for changes we need, pronto! It kills me. Never take for granted how easily things can get lost in translation and how costly these little mistakes can be.
So while the temptation might be there to outsource work offshore, you have to ask yourself, is it worth risking your business’s reputation for? If you want the best outcome for your company and in a lot of cases saving extra costs, in the long run, invest in highly skilled local talent. Wins every time.