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Our offshoring experience – part 2

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Peter Thompson
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In part 1 of Our offshoring experience, I highlighted our reasons for offshoring, how it came about, how it is currently working and what our plans for the future are. In part 2 of this article, I will focus on some of the implementation challenges we’ve faced to date and how we have managed them.

Culturally, offshoring can be a challenge. There are emotional factors that affect both teams.

How do the team at the parent company feel?

In some cases, they were happy to have extra resources to help with the load of the existing work. The addition of different skill sets was also appreciated. However, in a few specific circumstances, some felt like their jobs were under pressure or they are going to be replaced, which is not the case but it’s difficult to influence other’s feelings. Some people are insecure by nature.

How do the team at the offshoring location feel?

In some cases, strong relationships were formed between the team in Australia and Serbia almost immediately. Regular Skype calls, video conferences, etc. are common between them. Some tend to hide behind email, where it’s safe. From time to time, there is a tendency for some to feel not as important or not as well regarded but this can happen within a single office.

Because I am here on a daily basis to manage people and expectations in Serbia, I am able to help overcome these issues. I do think without senior management from GCOMM or LiveBackup the challenges would be much greater and, in my opinion, the offshoring would fail.

Creating global values is a challenge. The Australian and Serbian worlds outside the office are so different. Company’s cultural values usually develop from some emotional connection to a brand, people or service, which usually takes the time to evolve.

Getting the Serbian team to share those values takes time and patience. With over half of the Serbian team visiting Australia, it certainly helped them understand where the company came from, the plans for the future and where they fit.

Videos, seminars, history and storytelling are all the ingredients that help the offshoring team understand why they work for the company and give them the reasons to buy into the core values.

One of the greatest challenges we have had and still face is the process of transferring operational tasks. It is important to have excellent documentation, outlined processes, procedures and videos. Initially, we probably realised the extent to which this would be required. The project work is much more simple because it’s not driven by strict deadlines but operational tasks by nature are.

The training we have performed and continue to perform has been critical. Much of my time involves educating the offshoring team about how the company functions. Also, there is one on one training performed for specific, task oriented operational duties.

The process of training is something that requires patience. It consumes resources from the existing operation and therefore represents a tangible cost.

One of our key objectives was to ensure that our offshoring team has access to excellent equipment, applications and equivalent tools as local employees. I knew that the right technology would be essential. It even comes down to UPS’s and high quality headsets. A poor conversation through background noise can impact the confidence of the project.

We have definitely improved our processes. Tools such as Basecamp have helped with transparency. Moving certain applications to the cloud has greatly increased efficiencies of the everyday tasks.

It’s quite exciting to build an offshoring office. It is not that dissimilar from starting all over again but once you make a foundation, it serves as a genuine competitive asset.

We have learned a lot over the last 15 months. We still have a long way to go. So far, for GCOMM and LiveBackup, the process is proving beneficial and the team we are building globally are beginning to get stronger.

We are of the belief that as time goes on, the term offshoring won’t be used. Instead there will be a single group with a single focus, working together to deliver a world class service with greater scalability.

As more changes and developments come to life, I will continue to update The GCOMM Post.

If you have some ideas or input into the entire offshoring concept, or have had some interesting experience with it, I would love to hear your feedback.

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About Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson founded GCOMM in 1996. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering/Information Systems from Griffith University and his MBA from Nyenrode Business Universiteit in Holland. He believes in building great teams of people, both in business and socially.
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