few weeks ago, there was a government report indicating that outsourcing
jobs to other countries could benefit companies in the United
don’t know much about the entire story, but the general thought
seemed interesting. I mean, we all understand the bottom-line
financials as one way where companies try to benefit from the
outsourcing process. But such a viewpoint generally gets a hushed-tones
type of presentation, where people understand that most folks
don’t look at domestic job losses as having benefits.
talked with a good friend of mine that works for a company that
hires roughly half of their staff in other countries. My question
was about the benefits involved in outsourcing. He generically
responded that he didn’t have many thoughts on benefits, since
most were simple economics. But he did say that outsourcing can
create headaches that are often never anticipated before a company
takes the outsourcing-to-other-countries leap. Here’s a basic
rundown of what he said happens quite often:
When having to work as a team, members from other countries
put a group at an immediate disadvantage because of communication
problems. First, and the most nightmarish, depending on what
country you are working with business hours don’t match up.
He mentioned one group that was a day ahead of him by time zone,
and that it always took a minimum of three days to get a single
question answered. He would receive material, but by the time
it he saw it, the work day for the sender was over. When he
would send it back with questions or suggestions, they didn’t
receive his feedback until after he had gone home for the day.
In short, something with two or three questions, even small
ones, could take a week to resolve if the answer to the first
question was needed before addressing the second. Second, while
stressing he wasn’t thinking of what most people might traditionally
and immediately imagine as language barriers, language and similar
issues of understanding can be a problem even when everything
appears to be clear. The need to be specific and understood
creates a certain formality or rigidity that sometimes results
in incomplete efforts. The drive to be understood creates a
lack of understanding. For example, ask for a person to complete
programs 1 and 2 and they do. But they don’t check to see if
the results work. Why? Because no one was asked to use the programs,
just to write them.
Any company working with multiple operations, even in the same
country, can have difficulties when people are working on a
project but aren’t in the same place. Sometimes shortcuts or
solutions that can be shared in an office aren’t as efficiently
passed along to other locations. Consistency problems happen,
even with the most stringent of procedures to keeps things consistent
Motivation is different. Deadlines mean different things. Often
times my friend said he would work late not only for his own
work, but to finish the work he was expecting from personnel
in another country. It wasn’t that their efforts were poor or
that their skills were lacking. They just weren’t on the same
page with what was supposed to be done, or a deadline that was
rapidly nearing, and since it was his responsibility to get
it done and make it work… well… he just gave up and did it himself.
essence, yes it might make financial sense to outsource jobs to
foreign countries. It might even be something that improves international
trade and brings in alternative solutions. But you can’t ignore
factors that might slow down work, increase demands upon specific
staff members and lower morale.
not showing anything that is a benefit to outsourcing. But it
does provide a bit of insight into areas that I think often get
overlooked if even considered. I was able to assemble it in about
often believed that the best consultant for any company is already
on that company’s payroll. Grab a front-line employee… grab an
employee that is involved in the literal and figurative heavy-lifting
tasks. Instead of giving some supposed outside expert hundreds
of thousands of dollars, offer that employee a free dinner and
tickets to a show for the family or perhaps one or two hundred
dollars. Ask them, and listen to the answers.
concept? Hardly. Not perfect at all. But not expensive. And I
would guarantee you that more often than not, you’ll fill a few
pages of a notebook with interesting observations.
~ ~ ~
the early days of the In My Backpack web site, I was
trying several different ways to present material.
journal entries were referred to as “A Momentary Lapse…” for
a period of time, which eventually transitioned to “Are you
chewing gum?” for a bit. After a few restarts, modifications,
and relaunches, the Now Playing area took over.
of occasional segments—appearing perhaps ten times a year or
so—was called Random Thoughts, which I described as…
long for “A Momentary Lapse…”… Not enough for a full article…
Need to get them off my “ideas to work on” list…
essay was originally created and presented as a Random Thoughts
entry. I’m bringing it back as a From the Backpack offering
because I’m curious about the content and the effort. But, worth
noting, it may still seem a bit incomplete, needing more development,
and may or may not have gone through some additional edits and
re-writes beyond my usual finds when searching the archives.