One would think that, with all of the modern day tools available to us through the Internet that finding suitable “offshore” outsourcing partners is an easy task.
Sure, you can Google your requirement and get a host of potential suppliers. However, the Internet is a Liar and so what you come up with can be very misleading.
What a fancy website will NOT tell you is whether: a business is still actively trading — the testimonials and completed tasks are real or “borrowed” – if the business is a “front” for illegal activities – and if the claimed expertise and facilities are real.
When the outsourcing agency is local, you can easily call in and check all of these out personally. Offshoring is vastly different as you cannot just “drive down the road”
Surety, continuity and reliability are key considerations when you decide to outsource … and that is why many companies use large recognized outsourcing suppliers like Convergys and Teleperformance.
However, there are many mid-sized suppliers / companies who offer solid solutions … at a much lower cost. The challenge is in identifying them!
Following are some of the “identification” options available to you. [These apply to business process outsourcing – i.e. ongoing – needs as opposed to one off requirements.]
#1: Seek to connect via an online outsourcing site
If you have done this or used the Linkedin offshoring interest groups, then you will know that within 24-48 hours you can have 30-50 responses and that going through these can be very time consuming, daunting … and often very confusing!
Your request for interest is just the start…
You still need to ask for more information, get quotations / proposals, and do reference checks BEFORE you can advance to the next stage with any level of certainty. Be prepared – these follow-ups will take up a lot of your time and it could be weeks before you are able to advance your savings objectives.
The cost: Your time which, even if you are on a fixed salary (i.e. not billed out at an hourly rate) has an associated cost.
#2: Undertake a Research Visit
This is the approach many companies adopt – to meet potential suppliers identified through the Internet or by referral. Those visits can be very valuable as they provide you with “on-the-ground” feel for what is involved.
However, after a week of meetings, you may still not have the solution you need as the people you met will invariably say “yes” to everything when reality is vastly different.
The cost: Airfares, hotel expenses, per diem expenses, and your personal time. When properly costed, this could exceed $3,000 per staff member who undertakes the research visit.
#3: Arrange everything through a “company’s” local representative / agent
Of course, it is always preferable to deal on a personal basis and it’s even better if the party you are dealing with is someone you know / been referred to is based locally.
The only negative is that often these “local agents” generally represent a specific company which may / may not be the right solution provider for your needs. If your BPO requirement is substantial or complex, then you must ensure all options are considered.
The cost: Your time.
#4: Use a Broker
There are Brokers – and services – which provide “on-the-ground” expertise within a specific outsourcing market or sector (normally call center), and therefore can advise you the right people to work with based on real experience.
The cost: A service fee applies OR they arrange for a small margin to be added to the fees you will be charged.
All of the above supplier identification processes are workable and can deliver good outcomes.
The key is to understand that there are costs involved no matter which route you pursue.