Offshore outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to grow your business and plug skill gaps in the short term. By working with a third-party vendor based in another country, you may strike a better deal, but you could run into cultural issues that affect collaboration.
Whether it’s a language barrier or work culture, understanding how to best work with offshore vendors can help you get better results and expand your company without losing your core values.
Research the Offshore Vendor Country
Before striking up a working relationship with an offshore vendor, you should carry out due diligence - not just for the vendor, but also the corresponding country and culture.
It may seem like an obvious action to take, but very few companies take the time to research the culture of those they hire. A rudimentary understanding of the company’s national holidays and other significant events can go a long way.
On the flip side, a limited understanding of a country’s calendar can lead to arguments over time off, planning problems, and can cause offense to your outsourced team.
Yet beyond just showing your outsourced team that you understand and value their culture, knowing this information can help you plan effectively and avoid getting blindsided throughout the calendar year by events you weren’t aware of.
As well as finding out local festival and holiday dates, you’ll also want to dig into common work customs such as productivity policies and strategies, as well as communication styles. You may find that while one country values direct communication and takes offense at a more passive approach, another will be confrontation-averse and have another way of managing difficult conversations.
Knowing a little about how your outsourced team is likely to respond to various forms of communication can make a huge difference to how well you come across, and how they can show up for your company.
One of the best ways to ingratiate yourself to your new outsourced team is to show them that you value their opinions on how you can get better results.
Let’s say you’ve chosen to outsource customer support, and you find an offshore vendor that can provide you with a specialized customer service team. If nobody in your company has a strong background in this area, there’s a good chance that you can learn a thing or two from your new team.
As well as getting fresh ideas for how you can improve basic processes and workflows to better serve your customers, you can also make your new outsourced team feel welcome.
Even if you don’t end up using any suggestions or ideas, you have made the effort to build rapport with your outsourced team which won’t go unnoticed.
By ignoring or instantly dismissing input from your outsourced team, you can diminish the trust in the working relationship as employees may feel undervalued.
Clarify Instructions and Eliminate Jargon
Working with an offshore vendor should be much like onboarding a new hire - you want to make sure you don’t skip any important steps that could prevent them from doing the best job possible.
When a different country and culture is involved, you should also make the effort to clarify the internal jargon and process instructions your company leans on. If your teams are always talking about how to ‘leverage’ resources and go for the ‘low hanging fruit’, you may need to reevaluate your onboarding documentation.
A simple glossary will suffice in some cases, but simplifying the language you use can be an easier alternative. While a native English speaker will be accustomed to speaking in idioms and slang, it’s easy to forget that these will most often be misunderstood by non-native English speakers.
By auditing the way you communicate internally, or at least with your offshore vendors, you can drastically minimize the risk of misinterpretations. The next time you want to ‘touch base’ with your offshore vendor and discuss ‘scalability’, check yourself and see if you can use clearer language.
This is a valuable practice too as it can help you connect with your customers, many of whom will likely feel nauseated at the mere mention of overused industry jargon.
Analyze the Software you Use
Once you’ve knocked down any barriers to effective communication, you can turn your attention to the way you work.
A common mistake companies make when entering into working relationships with offshore vendors is overlooking the importance of software. Software often connects the dots and enables your teams to communicate well, collaborate across departments, and plan for future projects.
Without considering compatibility and the software you use, you run the risk of having too many work processes and workflows with little overlap and limited scope for collaboration.
Most likely, each team in your company will use specialized software tools to design and manage its workflows and processes. When onboarding an offshore team, it’s worth revisiting the drawing board to see how you can integrate them with existing work processes.
If, for instance, you rely on Slack as your go-to communication hub for internal chat, you might want to open up a channel or two for your offshore team. If you don’t integrate the outsourced team with your current communication system, you’ll have to context shift between various tools to stay in touch.
The same goes for project management software - if you want real integration, you need to find ways to open up your systems to any offshore vendors you work with.
So-called “spy computer software” or workforce analytics solutions can be a valuable investment for any type of outsourcing as they allow for legal monitoring which supports accurate time tracking and performance evaluation.
With it, you can easily bring your new team into the fold and see how they’re spending their time as if they were in-house employees. Workplace performance is maximized when you can use data in a tool like Insightful to drive your decisions and create greater accountability among individuals.
What is Insightful?
Insightful is one of the best apps to keep track of work hours and can help you solve the issues of:
- how to monitor performance of employees
- how to track employee productivity
- how to monitor employee internet usage