Many companies outsource their back-office activities, or at least a portion of their workflow, to offshore teams these days. While this definitely has many benefits for businesses, there are also some common offshoring challenges.
Even small firms and startups have offshore operations nowadays, ranging from employing freelancers who perform monotonous or creative jobs, to collaborating with digital agencies or recruitment firms. This enables them to reduce their expenses and shorten their time to market.
Offshoring has become a typical business strategy in more ways than one. While an offshore workforce might assist you in achieving your business objectives, it also presents its own set of problems.
The offshore strategy may result in severe corporate losses if the proper efforts are not taken to avoid and resolve these challenges.
Businesses must prepare to face the problems that come with managing remote teams. Here are some common offshoring challenges (and their solutions) for you to consider.
Common Offshoring Challenges and Their Solutions
1. Cultural Differences
Culture clashes are unavoidable. You’re collaborating with folks who grew up in a different environment and have different values and ideas than you. From the start, you should acknowledge cultural boundaries. From basic courtesy norms to professional ethics, even the smallest cultural differences can have a huge impact on your workflow.
Overcoming Cultural Barriers:
- Request that your service provider provides cultural training for both your offshore and onshore personnel. This will assist both parties in being acquainted with and comprehending one other’s cultural customs and beliefs. Cultural training will also assist both teams in identifying the communication styles of the other.
- Clear, consistent communication is essential for establishing a good working relationship. Open up communication lines and plan frequent video conferencing meetings. As you meet on a regular basis, you will become more acquainted with each other’s language and communication patterns, allowing you to read between the lines.
2. Scheduling Problems
Your offshore staff is most likely located on the other side of the globe and operates in a different time zone. While some offshore teams would gladly adapt their hours to correspond with your time zone, scheduling issues may still emerge.
Your offshore workforce has its own set of holidays and customs that are distinct from yours. There are days when you anticipate them to be on duty, but they are not because of a national holiday. Furthermore, each culture has its own sense of time, resulting in project delays, missed appointments, and increased friction.
The Japanese, for example, are extremely conscientious about time. A 9:00 AM appointment requires you to be there and ready no sooner or later than that time. In Western society, however, a few minutes before or after is acceptable.
Overcoming Scheduling Problems:
- Find out important dates and holidays ahead of time. This will allow you to plan your workflow and schedule ahead of time, avoiding unforeseen delays. Take into account both working and non-working vacations. Take the opportunity to ask your offshore staff what they typically do over certain holidays so that you can set realistic expectations for their availability.
- Create a scheduling procedure. Plan meetings and project sprints within a reasonable time limit. Determine how many days your offshore team will need to prepare for a meeting and mark it on their calendars so that your onshore team can plan accordingly.
- Find a happy medium. Is there any overlap in working hours for both time zones? For example, your onshore staff may work normal 9 to 5 hours, whereas your offshore crew may work from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM your time.
3. Lack of Leadership
In a typical workplace, there is a manager who motivates team members, ensures deadlines are met, and quality work is maintained.
When it comes to remote workers or offshore teams, however, leadership is rarely present. As a result, it is common for offshore teams to feel disconnected from the rest of the organization and alienated from the brand.
Overcoming Lack of Leadership
- Make a point of contact for your offshore staff. He or she can serve as the area manager or project manager, assisting in mitigating the issues of cultural differences and schedule conflicts. Your offshore staff may also be kept motivated and engaged with the brand by the local manager. He or she can plan team-building activities. A simple team meal once a month can assist your offshore employees to feel like they are a part of the firm.
- Pay a visit to your offshore team. Taking the time and making the effort to see your offshore staff in person will demonstrate to them how much you appreciate their job. It will also aid in the development of your connection with your offshore staff.
4. Quality of Work is Lacking, or Not as Expected
Miscommunication and misunderstanding are the most prevalent causes of expectations not being realized. As a consequence, either the product quality is inadequate, the product requirements are incorrect, or the planned deliverables have not been fulfilled.
Overcoming Mismanaged Expectations:
- Ensure that you carefully record all communications. Put all instructions in writing so that your offshore staff has a physical document to refer to when developing the product or working on your project. This guarantees that noone loses important instructions or information during translation.
- Request that your offshore team leader repeats the instructions. Your offshore staff may be nodding in agreement during your video conference, but you have no idea that they are confused about what is required of them. Requesting that they repeat the directions can help to clear up any confusions that may arise throughout your meeting.
- Organize frequent alignment meetings. Ascertain that the onshore and offshore teams are on the same page. This will not only help you strengthen your relationship, but it will also help you guarantee that the aims of both teams are the same.
Overcoming Poor Quality of Outputs:
- Attempt to reduce worker turnover. One of the best remedies for this problem is to build a more solid team through efficient human resource management. Proper incentive systems or communication channels can help your employees participate in certain procedures on a more frequent basis. High employee turnover, on the other hand, may have a negative impact on overall productivity and product quality.
- Set attainable standards and expectations. If modifications are necessary, it is preferable to create a technical template that everyone on the team can access. This might help to set expectations for the type of output required. Furthermore, everyone will most likely follow them.
- Set up an evaluation mechanism so that everyone can learn more about the project. A team would benefit greatly from having someone who can work on quality assurance. If this is too expensive, establishing a timetable or a feedback system might help to continually improve production quality. Furthermore, every member must realize that it is preferable if their outputs are examined before being forwarded for a more complete evaluation.
Overcoming These Challenges Isn’t a Challenge
Managing an overseas workforce will always be difficult. When employees are not all under one roof and are physically separated from the firm, collaboration and communication can be difficult.
But while there may be many common offshoring challenges, there are also several solutions. You can build a strong team culture, with open communication channels, with proper preparation. Getting the most out of your offshore workforce will necessitate a variety of management techniques. Successfully managing your offshore teams, on the other hand, will result in highly engaged and productive staff.
Noon Dalton is your dedicated resource to provide remote teams. Contact us today for more information.
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