The outsourcing dilemma – an old topic, with reloaded versions

Companies used outsourcing way before their key operations became digital. Powerful brands, which remained on the market for decades, learned from their previous experiences. See here how a coffee business understood the value of a good contractor. The example points out a classical ramification – it’s not only about money. When outsourcing, companies need to keep operations and image risks under control. It’s not “to outsource or not to outsource”. It’s more like “to outsource the right way or not”.

More than one critical need that demands the right answer

The basic necessity that leads to outsourcing is simple. Lowering the costs. Thus, the final products would have lower costs, and the company delivers the same (or even better) quality at a better price.

Of course, there was also a different scenario. That is, having the idea for a product/service, without the internal means to materialize it. Instead of developing the means, the idea owner outsources the development and/or production. Thus, the final product is done with no disproportionate investment.

Once the system returned satisfactory results, its usage multiplied. Outsourcing’s popularity increased. Those who specialized in providing such services developed, to accommodate the market needs. It became a matter of who to choose. It also became a matter of what to outsource and what to keep at the HQ. Companies added yet another need to the basic requirements of cost and efficiency. This was the data security necessity, sprung from the security (later cyber-security) incidents.

Sorting out the company operational needs

In consequence, the outsorcers would check outsource-able operations, in view of them being core operations or not. The border shifted over the years, along with the emergence of digital tools. Previously critical operations now became outsource-able. You may browse this financial institution outsourcing – focused article to get an idea.

Meanwhile, the work ethics issues evolved. Keeping up with outsourcing, the ethical business advocates showed that the new type of personnel is part of the brand image. Allowing outsourcing to impair sustainable and ethical supply chains is not an option. There are companies who have tried to dodge the rules, and failed. Others still try their luck, but in a global economy the benefits come with equal responsibilities. Accepting these responsibilities and making the best of them is the way to go.

Whenever a company enters an outsourcing partnership, the ethics of its partner reflect upon its image. Supporting a fair, sustainable work environment is its responsibility. The opposite attitude would be not to care, a thing which involves short-term and long-term risks.

Why the outsourcing staff are partly your staff

Partly – as in in relationship with your demands and your operations. Scheduling and work conditions are often agreed upon mutually. So, work ethics, personal dignity and potential development should also matter for both parties.

As with any on-premise employee, companies cannot afford to hire less skilled or less motivated people. Lower upfront costs are not an enough motivator. The potential damages might turn the alleged savings into their opposite. The only way you can count on high-quality services is by making sure these are the standard. People who care about themselves, their well-being, their development and their future are the most likely to care about their work. Self-worth, good perspectives and an inquiring mind are important. Look for partners that empower their employees to have good performances and good lives – and you will set a welcomed example.

Simply because you don’t see the people that work for you in person doesn’t mean they are less real or less important. On the contrary, sometimes we can summon better feelings for individuals that are at a distance. We can have punctual, meaningful conversations, and also get to know a bit about other cultures. We can even be less callous. Remote conversations are what we make of them. They come without the possible annoyances deriving from daily office cohabitation. The danger here is de-humanization – so don’t let it materialize.

Cultural clashes in outsourcing

When working with various business partners, we become aware of the cultural differences. It’s a beauty, in fact, but it can also be tricky. Some cultures, when in the professional environment, champion others in efficiency, dedication and precision. Yet, this cannot be taken for granted.

Why is that? As with many social things, we are nearing the truth only when we consider the average situation. We need to take into account more than one situation or characteristic. Often, the cultures where people are willing to go to great lengths to deliver, work-wise, are very particular. The applying factors lack in other environments, and this is for a reason. Moreover, the stress created when translating these characteristics where they don’t belong is huge.

Take a look at your previous experiences and lay down truthful conclusions, such as:

“Working with X, they always delivered on time; they also had difficulties in understanding my requests”,

“Working with Y, communicating the requests took longer, but once over that point, they understood the project as well as we did”,

“Working with Z, the path toward the goal was fuzzy and tangled, but they delivered beautifully”.

Better employees, better outsourcing projects

This goes to all the partners in an outsourcing business relationship. As mentioned, encouraging sustainable, innovative, empowering mindsets bring out the best in people. To do that as an outsourcer, you need your own skilled project coordinators. Not only professionally skilled, but also having a good understanding of life and a good EQ.

Of course, you need time and know-how for infusing such cooperation with useful, wise assessments. It is worth it, and any company should empower its own project leaders to do so. Realistic, truthful expectations are always the best. They are also the most cost-saving, when reflected in mid-term or long-term expenses.

In conclusion, learn what each culture offers best in the working environment. From there on, determine what fits into other cultures and what cannot, or should not. Respect your own values as a company and show others how to reach them – while keeping your eye on the professional targets.