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by Simon Black
I was on the phone with a major bank last night. As usual, I had to navigate their automated phone system hitting ‘zero’ until my finger turned blue… I was finally forwarded to an offshore call center where the representative was more keen to follow the script than to actually help me.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine, and other times the communication barrier is just frustrating. When done right, though, it can be a seamless step for the customer while adding significantly to the bottom line.
Outsourcing is something that large corporations have been doing for decades– usually farming out work to international markets in an effort to minimize expenses. It’s still a debated practice, but I believe that it’s an important flag that any entrepreneur should consider planting abroad.
While you can outsource plenty of work to service providers in your home country, going offshore lets you take advantage of lower wage demand abroad. This can be a much more efficient use of your capital.
So where are the best places to establish an outsourcing flag?
Depending on your budget and workload, first you have to know what you’re outsourcing. For example, requirements and quality for a one-time project vs. a part-time assistant vs. a full time worker will all vary from country to country.
India is still a top destination for task-based work. There are a number of popular firms that offer on-demand help, charging by-the-hour or per-task. The advantage with hiring an outsourcing company is that you typically get access to a team of outsourcers, and the firm will outsource each of your requests to the most skilled person for the job.
Hundreds of thousands of information technology students graduate from Indian universities every year, and communications infrastructure is reliable within the country’s special IT parks. But India is now struggling to meet demand, and its currency appreciation has reduced price competitiveness.
Eastern Europe is rising to the challenge, marketing its legacy reputation as the center of Soviet technology and scientific research.
Ukraine stands out with the region’s fastest-growing software development and IT industry. Labor and infrastructure costs are still mostly buffered from the Eurozone, and Western venture capital funds have made large investments into offshore development centers there.
Eastern European contractors can deliver anything from a $500 web design to scientific equipment and microchip design. For skilled programming, information security, engineering, research & development, and sophisticated product and software development, look to Ukraine and other developing economies like Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
There are some well-rated outsourcing firms that you can find with a simple Google search, but I recommend seeking out independent contractors with oDesk, where you can easily search providers by country. oDesk gives you useful tools to manage your assistants and ensure they stay on-task, and you only pay for the time they work.
The advantage to hiring full-time outsourcers, on the other hand, is that you buy their downtime without having to worry about taxes, insurance, retirement, and other benefits.
I’ve worked with many outsourcers around the world, and in my experience if you want extremely loyal, articulate, punctual workers, especially full-time staff, you simply won’t find more value for your money than in the Philippines.
The country has a massive base of talented, college-educated professionals, and because of long ties to Spain and the U.S., the majority of young Filipinos speak English very fluently and are well-versed in Western business standards.
The Philippines is becoming the go-to destination for call center operations, as well as business process outsourcing (BPO) services. This includes things like accounting, human resources, and data analysis.
The best source of resumes is the country’s top job listing site, JobStreet, if you can get access. They typically require a business license in the Philippines, so you’ll either need to jump through their hoops or get creative and find someone who can help you. Otherwise, as above, search the oDesk marketplace for providers in the Philippines.
You can find full-time staff who can help you with finance, marketing, medical & legal transcription, web development, graphic design, and more. Rates range from $250-650 per month.
Wherever you do your hiring, enlisting others is instrumental to scaling your business. Planting one or more outsourcing flags overseas is a wise step that will likely generate a significant return for your business.