Outsourcing Abroad – Are You Saving?
As a virtual assistant, I am asked occasionally about offshore outsourcing. When asked, I would explain the differences in grammar and punctuation that a small business might experience in these situations as well as the negative domino effect caused by outsourcing abroad on any economy. However, in an effort to be fair, I did my own research to see what realistic dangers there are in outsourcing abroad and was amazed at what I found. This would hold true no matter what geographical location you live in.
More Than Just Dollars and Sense (Pun Intended)
Aside from the obvious, which I mentioned above, I found websites recommending cautions to protect your three intellectual property rights:
The legislation in any country, other than your own, is going to be very different than the country where you reside. As Oliver Schmidt pointed out when writing about the dangers of offshore outsourcing, it’s very important to talk to an experienced lawyer.
Outsourcing for Success noted, “Due to geographical distance, difference in time zones, and cultural differences, there are many things you may not be aware of and don’t know. And what you don’t know can hurt you. I have heard stories of service providers taking whole systems hostage because a client did not want to renew or renegotiate a outsourced contract.”
Erin Blaskie pointed out, “These companies are working day and night going through a wide variety of tasks just to get them back out the door. They aren’t spending the time to strategize and become a partner in your business. They are simply providing cheap labor.” As small business owners themselves, domestic virtual assistants want your business to succeed, because when we have worked on your projects, or our marketing has caused an increase in your business, it is a reflection on our own business.
Good Grammar is Here to Stay
When choosing anonymous blog writing services, please be especially careful. Their grammar, especially verb conjugation, is very different from ours. This is not to be taken lightly, as it will tip off your readers that you are not using domestic outsourcing. Many, and especially the unemployed, will take offense if you made your money in their country and will spend it in another.
If you are outsourcing because of time constraints, you will be spending more time to proofread the information that is presented with your company’s name on it. Seriously, be careful here.
Your Client’s Time Should Be Your Concern
Personally, I feel it important to add a personal experience here. I have bought more than one printer and when I need to call in for customer service, I am inevitably put in touch with a company outside of my own country. In fairness, most of the time, their accent is very different from my own but understandable. However, I have been put on hold for half an hour while they check their manual to see how to troubleshoot the problem, time that is charged to their client.
Recently, I had a problem with my internet service provider and called their customer service. I was on hold on and off for 45 minutes with the offshore assistant. When I was finally put through to a higher level tech support, the problem was taken care of in 5 minutes. I did the math and even if the local tech support made $18.00 a hour and the offshore support made $2.50 an hour, the company would have saved by using the $18.00 an hour tech support.
Remote Access To Your Computer
As a virtual assistant, you have to access your client’s computer from time to time, but only after you have a mutual trust and respect (a computer virus can cost both of you). When working with off shore virtual assistants, I am (nearly always) asked to give them access to my own computer. Many people would have a problem with this, and I am no different. No matter how tactful I am, the customer service rep is always offended when I explain that I would rather not give them access to my computer. And while it’s true that countless small business owners work with domestic virtual assistants who have access to their client’s computer to perform work for them, it’s not a stranger that you have just met on the phone for the first time.
You will find the effort you put into finding a virtual assistant to be well worth any time that you spend. There are affordable alternatives to offshore outsourcing in any country.
Please let me finish by saying that I am not criticizing all who work overseas, but simply stating what I have found in my research as many do wonder about outsourcing abroad.