Experts have long been predicting automation, artificial intelligence, and remote work as the future of businesses. While the former two continue to make progress, outsourcing has proliferated significantly over the last two decades. With more businesses in North America delegating their operations to offshore and nearshore locations, outsourcing clearly has emerged as a highly dominant force in the business realm.
A recent report suggests that the global outsourcing market in 2019 peaked at USD $92.5 billion. With advancements in technology that encourage remote work culture, the scope of outsourcing is likely to continue growing in the future.
However, as in other areas of business, outsourcing isn’t entirely free of problems. For instance, over the years, several North American businesses have realized that outsourcing to far-flung locations such as India is not as cost-efficient as it was made to be. Thankfully, nearshoring has emerged as a more viable outsourcing option for a majority of small and middle-sized businesses.
The question is, how do you select the right nearshoring partner for your business? It’s a good question and one that deserves a thorough answer. We at ContactPoint360.com offer solutions across the board – offshoring, nearshoring, or general outsourcing. In the past decade, we have developed strong competencies in handling nearshoring requirements which has given us a good understanding of what is best for businesses considering outsourcing for their needs. Below, I list a number of elements that you should look for when choosing the right vendor for your nearshoring requirements.
Do they have a North American base?
Several of our clients who come to us for nearshoring solutions complain that it’s a huge liability to manage their software development teams in India or China. There are many reasons for this, such as the time zone differences, cultural barriers, and infrastructure problems.
Choosing a nearshore partner based out of the U.S., Mexico or Canada can offset these disadvantages significantly. For example, you will rarely run into difficulties created by the time zone difference when you have to collaborate with a remote team in Charlotte from your headquarters in Pleasanton. You will also have more control over your operations since most businesses in North America operate under similar laws. Having your contact center employees based in Monterrey, Mexico also means you can fly frequently to collaborate within the same time-frame (and budget) that it takes you to fly to your New York City office.
When considering a nearshore partner, ask yourself — do they have a strong North American presence? The affirmative answer to this question not only helps you overcome the above-mentioned problems, it gives you the operational flexibility of low-touch change management.
How good is the infrastructure?
A lot of businesses hold back their decisions to outsource operations because of the concerns around the infrastructure in nearshore locations. Businesses would rather keep their IT functions, network security, development, and other core operations onshore than risking these functions by outsourcing them to locations that lack a robust infrastructure.
You can solve this problem by outsourcing your requirements to partners closer to home who share the same data centers co-located in your regional backyard. The importance of having remote teams in physical proximity also complements the need to have a top-of-the-line infrastructure.
Make sure that your preferred vendors have stable high-speed networks, low-cost bandwidth, and fiber network redundancy in place so that your control-and-command office can collaborate seamlessly with the remote teams or fall back on a contingency plan should anything go wrong.
Are they culturally aligned with your business?
You might assume that language is a non-issue in today’s outsourcing world. However, we keep coming across cases where development teams in Gurgaon and Guangzhou stop or delay their deployments because of slight miscommunication between them and their onsite teams. Understanding context is critical!
Nearshore employees fare better on this front because they are more understanding of cultural nuances of the Americas, however, they are not entirely without flaws. When hiring nearshore employees for your contact center requirements, make sure the agents are more culturally aware of your home base and possess neutral accents.
This cultural and language overlap compensates for the training and development that your business has to incur in training and upskilling your offshoring teams in Asia.
What’s the company’s background and fit for my business?
This rule applies generally when selecting any vendor for your business, however, it’s especially critical to your organization’s long-term outsourcing needs. BPO is a highly competitive marketplace; it’s a breeding ground for new players to enter the market and milk hefty profits off of the lucrative clients.
This could also mean that there is a ton of vendors and price points to choose from. An unsuspecting organization can easily fall into the trap of choosing a vendor based on their flashy marketing and affordable services. It definitely pays to wade through the noise and select the right vendor for your unique needs.
Before you settle for a nearshore partner, do thorough research on their background. Look for clues about their social proof — how many years have they been in business, how many companies do they serve, and what are some of the big logos in their client base?
How much will this organization care about me? How important am I to their business? Right-paring is also extremely important. I’ve had clients with 50 seat operations that partnered with $1B plus BPO organizations. While some work out, most struggle as the net importance of their business to the BPO did not amount to a rounding error on a spreadsheet. This makes it difficult to remain a priority as a client. Look for a BPO partner that values the financial contribution you make to their P&L. Otherwise, you may find you have lost the ability to get their attention and make changes that may be critical to your business.
Asking these questions will help you ensure that you are dealing with serious business and not a fly-by-the-night player. Before settling for a contract, ask to talk to some of their existing customers to gauge their business goodwill in the market. Additionally, select teams that are agile and flexible to adapt to your current requirements, who are also capable of scaling with your growing needs.
Do your due diligence before the business handshake
Selecting the right nearshore partner can amplify your business potential and improve your confidence in managing remote teams. Selecting a nearshore partner will essentially allow you to 3D print an extension of your business in a nearby location rather than halfway across the globe. Before you settle for a vendor, do yourself a favor and make sure they check all of the above boxes to avoid running into problems.