Offshore outsourcing teams

We can work together

Each organization has its own culture and way of doing things. Your new offshore outsourcing team needs to embrace that culture and be able to be integrated into the existing local team. Failure to do so will lead to friction and communication failures that will ultimately impact productivity and profitability.

Your offshore team, though their English may be exceptional, may not fully understand Australian culture nor the social conventions or values unique to your industry. Cultural differences can be deep and can cause significant challenges when getting global teams to collaborate. New offshore teams often need extensive cross-cultural training as well as a very well thought out onboarding strategy to bring them up to speed.

How to manage your existing team

A major hurdle to getting your offshore team up and running quickly is likely to be your existing team. Most people do not like change. The move to offshore outsourcing is likely to be confronting for your existing staff. They will feel defensive and reluctant to co-operate with members of the new team as they think their jobs may be on the line.
You need to be transparent and communicate honestly, as soon as possible, to your existing team and explain the reasons for the change. For some workers, this may mean the loss of their position, but for others, it may mean greater stability and a more diverse and interesting future job role.

Treat your outsourced staff as part of your team

When hiring offshore team members, it’s important to engage with them straight away and make them feel they are a valued part of the business. They need to understand your product, mission, and culture. As soon as they come onboard have a training program ready to go that not only teaches them about their tasks but also teaches them:

  • Company history, mission, and values
  • Your product or service in detail
  • Use of your key technology and information systems

You need to convey to your new team a clear vision for the company. What is expected from them for that vision to become a reality? This vision needs to be shared across all teams. You also want to make sure that their KPIs are clearly understood and are aligned to the overall business goals of the organization.

At first, their performance will not be as productive as the onshore team – it will take time for them to get up to speed.

Cross-cultural training

Ongoing cross-cultural training and coaching are of critical importance. You might think if you’re hiring technical or accounting staff rather than customer service staff, who will not be talking directly to your customers then, you might think that cross-cultural training might be unnecessary. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Cultural awareness and sensitivity are vital ingredients that allow global teams to collaborate effectively.

In Australia, we typically have a more casual and open working culture, where people expect to be able to provide feedback and ask questions about the tasks they’re given.  Other countries have working cultures that are more formal and highly structured. These differences can cause friction and misunderstandings between different teams unless a level of cultural understanding and acceptance is developed.

So not only is cross-cultural training necessary for your offshore team, it may be of benefit for your onshore team as well, so they can understand the culture of the region or country the offshore team is based upon.

To promote collaboration between the two teams, try to involve your onshore team as much as possible in the training of the offshore team. By being personally responsible for the development of the new team, they should develop a sense of investment in it and be committed to its success.

Ongoing communications and meetings

Maintaining excellent communication between your two teams is critical for successful collaboration. The COVID pandemic and remote working have made everyone more comfortable using platforms like zoom, skype, slack for meetings, and workshops. Allow your offshore and onshore teams to be in constant contact via chat for quick clarifications, status updates, questions, and so on.

To keep everything aligned and to deal with issues before they turn into problems, have a structured schedule of meetings and regular catch-up between the two teams. But be careful not to waste people’s time or overburden their time with unnecessary meetings.

The use of productivity and collaboration tools such as Trello or Basecamp, where everything is shared and documented, can go a long way in improving communication and reducing potential friction between the two teams.

Conclusion

Outsourcing can deliver numerous benefits to an organization in terms of cost savings and productivity gains. But these gains may prove to be elusive if there is friction or poor communication between your local and remote teams. You need to create an environment where effective communication and collaboration between onshore and remote teams is possible and encouraged to develop.

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