Whether you’ve already begun your offshore outsourcing journey or are still considering your options, it’s a good idea to strategically look at how you might build and grow an offshore team into the future. Like any aspect of business, begin planning now for how you’d like things to be operating in six months time, a year and even five years down the track.
Here are our tips on why and how to grow your offshore team without losing focus on your core business goals and objectives.
The benefits of an offshore team
When you’re looking to grow your business, an offshore team offers a huge range of benefits that you are unlikely to achieve through a purely local business model:
Cost and resource savings
By hiring staff in a lower cost economy, you can expect to save up to 70% of employment costs. This also includes the costs associated with managing those staff and setting up the infrastructure and space required for your staff members to be able to work.
Improved staff satisfaction
By employing offshore staff to complete some of your more repetitive and administrative tasks, you’ll free up your local team to focus on more strategic and challenging work. In other words, you’re matching the right tasks to the right skill sets and allowing each of your team members to shine. As a result, they’ll be happier and more satisfied in their role.
Your offshore team members and their associated managers, provide much more than just additional resources - they specialise in ensuring operational efficiencies through technology, task allocation, communication and job specific skills. And this will extend beyond your offshore team to benefit your entire business.
With the kinds of savings and efficiencies mentioned above, your business is set to grow. You’ll have the available funds and resources to invest back into the business - whether it’s entering new markets, developing new products or taking on more clients.
Where to begin with your offshore team
Because offshoring is new to your business, it’s best to start with a small team or even a single staff member. You’ll learn how to incorporate the offshore team member into your onshore team without the stress of multiple roles and complex tasks all at the same time.
Every business is different so there’s no one single way to make it work but we recommend starting with a couple of internal positions that are very process oriented and not particularly technical. Bookkeeping, data entry and virtual assistance roles are ideal. The tasks are easily managed online and you’re unlikely to face outlying challenges that require in-depth problem solving. It will also give you the time and focus to adjust your processes and procedures without having to manage a large team. Here’s just one example of how a business might grow and build their offshore team:
During the first phase of offshoring you’ll also find that starting small helps you identify where there is excess capacity or where you need the help of an additional team member. Over time, you’ll get to know how both your local and offshore team work best, and gain the confidence you need to extend on the tasks and roles being allocated offshore. Once you’ve set the processes in place and you’re comfortable with how things are going, you can begin the next stage of growth.
The best roles to start outsourcing
As we’ve hinted above, there are a few roles that lend themselves well to outsourcing and we’ll go into specifics shortly but first, let’s explore the key features you need to consider within the initial roles you fulfil:
Whether it’s answering the phone or working online, you need to look at how certain tasks can be successfully completed from a remote location. Consider how you’ll divert your phones and over what time periods. Also look at the programs you work with and whether they’re already cloud-based or at least able to be upgraded.
Without the in-person guidance of other team members or managers, your offshore staff member will need to be self-guided. In general, the best roles will be quite process oriented whereby the staff member can follow a training manual or a system process to complete their work.
Repetitive and time-consuming
One of the most successful forms of outsourcing comes from looking at what is taking up valuable time in your local team members’ days and is not core to their KPIs. These tend to be administrative, repetitive tasks that can easily be completed offshore. What’s more, offshore staff who are entirely focused on these tasks, often achieve much greater efficiency than your local team could ever dream of.
When you’re first starting out, you may like to limit the exposure of your offshore staff to external stakeholders such as clients and customers. However, this doesn’t apply to all businesses - just think of the many outsourced customer service contact centres operating offshore - however, it’s still something worthy of consideration within your particular business model and how it might affect the perception of your organisation.
So what types of roles are the best to begin with when offshore outsourcing?
Virtual assistant/personal assistant
A virtual assistant needs to ensure that senior managers can work efficiently by managing their administrative tasks and diary. Tasks can include:
- Diary management
- CRM and database management
- Compiling and preparing reports, presentations and correspondence
- Liaising with staff, suppliers and clients
- Implementing and maintaining administrative processes
- Organizing travel plans
- Data entry
This role is vital in both small and large businesses and may report to either an accountant or the business owner. They’re responsible for keeping accurate records of financial transactions and tasks can include:
- Bank reconciliation
- Payroll processing
- BAS preparation and reporting
- Processing purchases, sales, receipts and payments
- General ledger and journal entries
Servicing either customers or internal staff, an offshore IT support person can step in when your local team is busy with new business or just their day to day role. If you’re in the tech industry, you’ll often reach a turning point in your growth, where you’ll need dedicated resources to support your product or service. Support tasks can include:
- Troubleshooting, diagnosing and investigating issues
- Programming, debugging and coding
- Phone or online support
- Ticketing and documenting issues
- Configuring systems
- Testing software.
While generating leads, managing databases and completing paperwork is all part of a sales person’s job, it’s often not the best use of their skill set. Closing sales and reaching targets should be their focus and an offshore sales support person can support them in achieving this. Tasks they can manage include:
- Appointment setting
- Developing prospect pipelines
- Following up with prospects
- Generating quotes
- Lead generation
- Meeting preparation
- Diary management.
The ‘always on’ nature of marketing means that many businesses struggle to keep on top of their online presence. It can be costly to employ locally, and other staff members simply don’t have the time. The basic management and creation of digital marketing can easily be outsourced, and includes tasks such as:
- Search engine marketing
- Search engine optimisation
- Website design and maintenance
- Social media management
- Email marketing
- Online advertising.
Best practice for managing your offshore team
As with any staff member, managing their work can be one of the most important aspects of your business. With offshore staff, it can be even more important because they’re not working within your primary place of business and may also have a different cultural background to others in your workplace. And so, there are some important practices which should be implemented to ensure a successful outsourcing strategy:
- Defining the role and expectations
Before you even begin the recruitment process, be clear about exactly what the roles and tasks are that you need performed, as well as the key indicators of success in the job. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations are concerned.
Ensure you have training programs and documentation, ready to go from the moment you onboard your new staff member. Allow time for thorough training and follow through with regular check-ins and updates. Also consider the future path of their training so that they may become an even more valued resource for your business.
- Welcoming your offshore team
It’s important for all members of your team, no matter where they are located, that you create a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture. Encourage each member of your team to build relationships with colleagues and managers, and create ways to facilitate this - recognize achievements, share news together and schedule group catch-ups. Creating this kind of work environment will only improve the quality of output.
- Managing and measuring performance
Managing staff performance is important within any business but especially in the case of remote workers. Ensure you implement an effective management structure with agreed targets and timeframes, then check in regularly through online communication platforms, work in progress meetings and project management tools. Your outsource provider will also be of great assistance in managing your team on the ground.
Tips on how to grow your offshore team
Once you have outsourcing working well for your business and all the appropriate support structures and procedures in place, you can begin growing your team. Outsourcing providers usually have such sound training processes, that they can get a new team member (performing the same or similar role), up to speed and working for your business in no time.
However, don’t limit yourself to growing your business in just one department. Start thinking about other areas and functions of the business that could benefit from additional resources. After all, almost every department will have time-consuming tasks that take team members away from the real value-adding parts of their jobs.
For tips on ways in which you can boost your capability and grow your margins by expanding with offshore resources, and the types of roles that can be fulfilled, download our ebook.
For more tips on building and growing your offshore team, download our free eBook “Top 10 Offshore Roles You Need Now To Boost Your Capability And Grow Your Margins” today.
This blog post was updated on May 12, 2021.