Picture this. You tuck into your comfy bed and doze off for a full eight hours sleep. You wake up the following morning, take the dog for a walk and smile knowing that when you get into the office, you’ll receive an email with a list of tasks that were completed in India while you slept.
Your accounts have been processed and prepared for the quarterly BAS; your flights have been booked for an upcoming business road show; your wedding invitation list has been compiled; and all the business cards you collected last week have been entered into your database. If that sounds too much like science fiction, get ready because the future is here.
The offshoring revolution
Offshoring began with mainly large companies moving their accounts departments, call centres and data processing units overseas in search of cheaper labour. Small businesses soon cottoned on, outsourcing tasks such as secretarial work, graphic design and business plans. Now, it’s possible to outsource everything from wedding dress designs to plans for a new kitchen.
My experience with offshoring
Running a small business and being constantly wary of cash flow and expenses, I decided to sample a few offshore services early last year.
I decided to go offshore to get a new website built. Back home, I’d been quoted $5,000 for the job. I was curious to find out if all the hype about outsourcing would leave me feeling full-on or just forlorn and decided this would be a good test.
Logging onto www.templatemonster.com I purchased a webpage template for US$66. I then posted a job notice on www.elance.com for someone to drop my words and pictures into the template. The following morning I had 43 bids from countries including India, Canada, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Ukraine. I chose a bid of US$220 from Hyderabad in India.
The end result may not be the most advanced site in the world, but for US$268 I have a fully functioning website that does everything I need it to. In fact, it does a lot more than the website I had developed for another business three years ago that cost more than $10,000!
Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.
Proof in the pudding
In 2007 The Wall Street Journal put the personal outsourcing industry to the test with the following results:
Pros of personal outsourcing:
- Replicate support services at a fraction of the price.
- Work completed overnight while you sleep.
- Allows access to services previously only available to the mega rich or high powered.
- Allows busy people to free up valuable time.
Cons of personal outsourcing:
- Potential language and cultural differences.
- Cheaper is not always better – it could end up costing a lot more if you don’t get what you want in the first place.
Can lead to thinking that outsourcing is the panacea. It won’t work if you’re still fundamentally disorganised.
- Project revisions can end up costing a lot more time and money
Tips for a good offshoring experience
Make sure you check the validity of the provider you are engaging with. Many sites now feature previous client comments and ratings.
Provide simple explanations and very clear instructions about what needs to be done. The more detail you provide the more accurate the results will be.
Understand that quality is generally sacrificed for a reduced price. Knowing this will avoid frustration when the finished item arrives.
Outsourcing requires competent use of technology to exchange information between yourself and the provider. If need be, get an IT expert/coach to help you with the basics.
While some businesses and individuals believe offshore outsourcing helps them reduce the bottom line and boost efficiency, others stick to the belief that it’s more trouble in the long term.
I think the best way to make a judgement is to try a few offshoring services for yourself and then make an informed decision.
Do you have any experience of offshore outsourcing? How have you found it?
Main Sources: Your Personal Assistant, half a world away, Chicago Tribune, Feb 5, 2008; Outsourcing Your Life, The Wall Street Journal Online, June 2, 2007.