You send an email from your home office in Los Angeles at 10:00 a.m.; it arrives at your offshore facility in India, where the local time is 10:30 p.m. You don’t receive a response until that evening; by which time you’re already home with your family or getting ready to turn in. You read the email at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, or if you’re an early riser at 6:00 a.m., and find a question about your original email. Now 36 hours have passed and you’re back to square one.
Such communication issues are just one of the barriers to maximizing offshore competency. But with the right methodology, it’s possible to excel at offshore capabilities and achieve a consistent, sustainable ROI despite inherent time and distance challenges.
Offshoring Equals Higher ROI Potential
There are several benefits of offshore operations that have motivated companies to make the move:
• More billable hours — due to Full 24-hour work cycle
• Superior cost savings
• Scalability & flexibility
• Improved productivity and accountability
• Heightened employee morale and credibility
• Cultural diversity
However, these must be balanced against a list of obstacles that is nearly as long: Time differential, cultural differences, and language barriers – not just in verbal communication but also in the clarification of technology, industry and client terminology.
Having trepidation for going offshore is understandable, particularly for those who have already suffered a negative experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are firms out there that can help wash away those fears that came from bad experiences. It may be time to reestablish your offshore capabilities and enable your organization to realize the full potential and value of offshoring.
Here is one illustration showing how offshoring could benefit you. The graphic below highlights how much money one company is making, and saving, with the right offshore approach.
As you can see to the left, as head count increased average hourly rate decreased, leaving a substantial margin after 6 months of integration (area circled). Though increased sustainability and higher value per employee were the quantifiable results, the real question is how to get there.
The Engagement Manager
Effective use of offshore resources begins with hybrid onshore/offshore teams to coordinate efforts and help to remove communication barriers. That may require outside assistance from technologists with multiple industry experience, working from a tested and proven methodology.
For many successful firms, that means employing a uniquely skilled engagement manager (EM) to become the beacon of profit margin for the company’s offshore investments.
It is the EM’s task to learn, adapt and follow the company’s methodology practices while removing the barriers to communication, whether that involves basic translation or framing communication in ways that are culturally familiar to the offshore team.
The importance of a mediary with this skill set cannot be understated. He or she will be counted on to host daily calls and meetings, assign tasks with the requisite scope of work, determine estimated time of completion, and follow up to make sure progress is made. Most important, the EM documents everything so there is always a record that will not get lost in translation.
The ENGAGEMENT MANAGER as Advocate Liaison
Companies thrive when employees want to work for them, and are not doing so just to collect a paycheck. This is another all-important area where an engagement manager can improve the productivity of offshore teams. The EM assists with travel arrangements, including visas and necessary work documents, family and living arrangements, the adaptation process (to minimize culture shock), and arranging leisure and team-building activities.
Providing this time, attention and support builds positive sentiment and helps to inspire happy, professional and proactive workers.
It won’t always be perfect but it will be better than most other alternatives. Despite language, cultural or technical understanding, some workers may poke holes in the work and tasks being communicated to them, which results in procrastination, lackluster project processing and deadlines that seem to go on and on. Monitoring from a dedicated EM can reduce the likelihood of hiring or retaining talent that fits that description.
The goal is always to encourage a culture of excellence that emphasizes the need and expectation that the workforce responds with solutions vs. questions.
When the goal is creating sustainable ROI through offshore methodology, the engagement manager can be the difference between offshore operations that merely work, and those that kick butt.
Axis Technical Group
Since 2002, Axis has served as a trusted technology advisor to leading companies in the mortgage, title, healthcare and financial services industries. To better respond to client needs at a time that benefits their schedule, Axis has created various “best-shoring,” teams through its offices in the United States and India which service our clients 24/7 if necessary. Our multi-faceted international teams offer unmatched technical and business expertise at any time, seven days a week.