Firm leaders who have offshore outsourced successfully say the following lessons learned from working with a domestic partner can be readily applied to offshore outsourcing:
Start on the right foot. Some firm leaders say the initial steps of the project or the relationship are among the most important. On the same note, leaders say this is where firms trying out offshore outsourcing can fall down—they expect the process just to work itself out on its own without any concerted effort. Firms need to invest time with the partner upfront to communicate. In fact, most of the participants with experience indicate significant ramp-up time is necessary to set up the appropriate procedures and train the offshore team on standards and expectations.
Set up the right technology infrastructure. Having the right IT infrastructure can make or break an offshore outsourcing operation. Transfer of information across systems is a key component, meaning that tools, processes, and software must be standardized up front to make this happen. Also consider security issues.
Make it work the next time. As with a domestic provider, partners typically improve service over time as they learn about your firm’s expectations, preferred delivery methods, etc. As such, most firm leaders with offshore outsourcing experience say any issues with quality and communication with an individual provider lessened significantly after an initial learning curve. Retaining that learning curve from project to project is key—those experienced participants who say quality and communication issues persisted often attribute it to their team at the offshore firm changing from project to project, negating any learning curves achieved and reducing net benefits. Establishing an agreement with the provider upfront to retain consistent project team members could be a solution to this issue, increasing the likelihood of success.