There is no doubt smaller businesses are now following the lead of their bigger counterparts. Creating an outsourced team to complement a team in Australia is smart business. If you’re an early adopter (like I am), then you may have already dipped your toe in the water. If you have started outsourcing in the Philippines and nailed it - well done, skip this article. If you’ve had your fair share of hiccups, don’t worry - you’re not alone.
One of the questions I get asked all the time is “What do I need to do to manage my outsourced team successfully?” Well, there are cultural differences, and your business also needs to be prepared to make changes to work with a remote team successfully. When working with an outsourced team in the Philippines you’ll be blessed with a good platform to start with, mostly due to excellent English skills and positive attitude.
Here’s some tips I give to clients when managing an outsourced team:
- Prepare to invest time in specific and regular feedback especially in the first 2 to 3 weeks.
- Set up daily check-in calls for 10 minutes for the first week each morning even if you don't think you will need it.
- Maximise the use of resources available in your BPO to help with feedback. In Beepo we have a Client Experience Team that helps clients with this exact objective. (I'll expand on that later on Tip #3).
- Prepare relevant reference materials and background information. Show examples or visuals, and be specific as to whether you want these followed exactly or as a guide.
- Learn to ask the right questions - ask for instructions to be repeated back if giving a verbal brief, or ask how the project will be approached from the employee’s perspective. Have a quick recap and then set an initial milestone task with a deadline.
- If you get the feeling there is a communication breakdown - there probably is. Escalate this, and understand you may not be the best person to sort it out.
- Use cloud-based services for your online data storage and email. Google has come up with comprehensive business applications that are easy to use, reliable and inexpensive. We use these apps a lot for effective communication with our team in the Philippines, and it is accessible from your computer, tablet or phone.
- Use a project management tool that allows for collaboration between your local and Philippines staff and helps with transparency on project timelines and milestones.
- Use a time tracking system so you can measure efficiency and categorise activities your team are working on. At Beepo, we provide one for you, as well as the training and reporting.
- Focus on team formation and getting your staff working together. Set your expectations for both groups. For the local team, discuss how it will positively affect their daily work. Talk to members of the existing team about the changes, help them feel excited and inspired by the change. Stay in touch throughout the transition, resolve any conflict quickly through process improvement (don’t blame people, blame processes). Most importantly, recognise both teams' achievements and show how effective the team can be working together.
- What we do differently at Beepo is we assign a highly trained Client Experience Manager, much like a person in the middle to buddy-up your local and offshore staff. They are a communication expert, with experience working with western businesses, and track record in training and development, and coaching Philippines staff. The feedback from our clients on this structure has been exceptional.
- We recommend creating a shared work in progress (WIP) document that each staff member updates with projects, deadlines, priorities and resources.
Managing people is one of the biggest challenges, yet most rewarding opportunities. Get it right in the Philippines and you’ll experience ridiculous leverage. In the words of a client I spoke to today “We feel like we’ve struck gold”. Now that makes me smile.
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