Trust But Verify: The Proliferation of Advice on Outsourcing Requires Caution

By Kirk Laughlin, NSAM Editorial Director I always enjoy reading the various recommendations that come out from industry experts about best practices in outsourcing. Some of the advice …

By Kirk Laughlin, NSAM Editorial Director

I always enjoy reading the various recommendations that come out from industry experts Compass Conceptabout best practices in outsourcing. Some of the advice is intended to be truly independent and unbiased and that’s the kind of material we’re often looking for at Nearshore Americas.

Other times we see “experts” arguing a specific point, but in reality they have a hidden agenda and the tone of their advice favors that agenda.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s important not to completely dismiss the various opinions and guidance available out there, even if it is from a party known to be promoting their own brand, product or consultancy. Service providers in particular can be exceptionally helpful in shedding light on specific outsourcing trends as well as country or regional-oriented data. In fact, providers should be prepared to give you a briefing on their own service roadmap and whether they are intending to stick to core services (like call centers) or branch out into other service areas like KPO or IT services. Listen closely to see if this “vision” is echoed in conversations with other members of the provider’s executive leadership.

One of the most fundamental challenges facing buyers of outsourced services is choosing the right partner.  Once the partnership begins, tremendous amounts of focus, energy and oftentimes funding is devoted to the relationship from both parties.  The partnership can quickly come crashing down however if there are assumed payoffs that never materialize.

Blogger Samuel Prasad has come up recently with a list of ten recommendations on choosing the right outsourcing partner. Among the valuable points he makes is that it’s a big mistake to hire a partner solely based on economics. As far as hiring a partner based in a specific country he says:

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The location of an offshore outsourcer is important because differences in language and culture in addition to the geopolitical climate can cause major problems. A country with a stable government that respects IP rights with good universities/colleges… is usually a good bet

There is nothing better of course that to visit the country and see first hand.  It  may sound pretty unscientific, but some of the best advice-givers in the outsourcing industry strongly advocate talking to business people, investors and even university officials about issues like the rule of law, trade and legal transparency and governmental support for exported professional services.

If you are just beginning your journey in outsourcing, it won’t be hard to find a large number of advice-givers looking to get you to listen to them.

But in the same spirit of good journalism practices, it boils down to the old adage: Trust, but Verify.

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