The Outsourced Accountant Relationship Manager, Cameron Wright, recently held a Facebook Live Q&A session for TOA Ignite where he answered questions focused on three areas: team engagement, managing expectation gaps, and business strategies implemented when adding an offshore team.
As a Relationship Manager, Cam helps clients understand the benefits of outsourcing and assists them with any queries. Cameron develops offshoring strategies for clients so they can focus more on growing their business.
He has over 10 years of experience in the finance broking industry where he specialised in commercial finance. The outsourcing of process work was a key driver to his success.
TOA Ignite is a community of accountants, finance professionals, and other key industry personnel connect, share and learn from each other. This is currently an invitation-only group and is mostly comprised of existing clients and team members of The Outsourced Accountant.
Question: What’s the one piece of advice you can give to those who are new to offshoring? Specifically with TOA Global’s business model.
Cameron: Per feedback from our client forums where many long-standing clients were in attendance, was that regular communication rhythms and engagement with the offshore team, similar to engaging their onshore team, are key.
Here are several ways to guide you in achieving this:
- Consider outlining your firm’s vision, how the offshore team’s role fits into that vision and how they will contribute.
- Involve them in workflow meetings via online video calls like Skype. Including them in quarterly strategic planning days would also be valuable.
- Lastly, the best outcomes are achieved by those who flew out their first one or two senior members to work and even socialise with the onshore team. This humanises the relationship on all sides and ensures the offshore team are confident to add their expertise, ask questions and contribute proactively. Not to mention, enhancing the knowledge transfer process.
- Lastly, a little bit of recognition goes a long way in the Philippines, more than you’d expect. I often see commendation certificates on the workstations of our team members who are super proud to display them for all to see!
Some more great tips expressed in the discussion:
- Bringing team members across to Australia
One of our junior accountants, Cyndelle Veneracion, was sent to Australia last April for the Panalitix Accountants Conference 2017. With her are Warren Rustand, guest speaker, Leonie Bailey Principal of Leonie Bailey Chartered Accountant, and David Macartney, senior accountant.
- Delegate a different staff member each day to look after visiting staff
- Welcome packs upon arrival in Australia
- Treat visiting staff to a local experience
- Ensuring visits for training and support are regular (to and from local country)
- A going home pack to the Philippines pack – gifts for other colleagues (e.g. key chains, koala’s, souvenirs)
- Celebrate birthdays and cultural days (e.g. Melbourne Cup) – team skype with everyone!
- Don’t forget to check in and show support for unwell family members – e.g. sending flowers
- Have end-of-year functions
- Provision of pre-paid mobile and cash cards
- Team-to-team bonding activities
- Retention awards – 2nd year anniversary, complimentary lunch at the cafeteria after a year of service, or a month-long vacation leave. This enables staff to recharge, spend time with their families or get to do their passion.
Cameron with the amazing offshore team in Philippines
Question: On managing expectations, can you tell us more about this? How big is the gap usually?
Cam: Here are some general observations and points to consider:
- Filipinos generally expect a well structured workflow that is process driven. Locally, they are used to working in an authoritarian workplace where information streams down the organisational structure, but rarely back up.
- Filipinos focus on accuracy over productivity – remember most learn their profession in an audit environment. Filipinos will spend a lot of time researching or checking before communicating.
- Lastly, before a strong relationship is formed usually Filipinos answer with a simple yes or no, more usually ‘yes’ regardless of agreement or comprehension.
On the other hand,
- Westerners on the other hand expect questions and proactive communication from staff up to management. If something doesn’t seem right or a process isn’t as efficient as it could be, management wants to know.
- They also expect time budgets to be met, and if unsure of an item,it’s simply highlighted for review. Productivity and efficiency is the name of the game.
- So it’s important for Westerners to ask open-ended questions, they need to check comprehension by observing an offshore team member complete a task unaided, not relying simply on a ‘yes I understand’ response.
- And of course, involve them in your business and build a strong relationship to aid communication and effectiveness.
Question: What do you think is the biggest challenge that a client should expect when offshoring?
Cam: The initial time investment required to get the offshore strategy off the ground is the transfer knowledge to achieve relatively seamless collaboration. However, once this is done, you have made a fantastic investment in your firm, from which you can leverage relatively easily from, building capacity offshore around the knowledge and productivity already in place there, and the processes that support it. The recruitment strategy onshore then moves from process-compliance focus, to relationship-client management focus offering clients regular structured insights to achieve client goals, supported by information prepared by the offshore team at a very low ongoing cost.
In summary, outsourcing offers tremendous benefits to any firm as it allows you to create a long-term strategy and lets you become more client-facing, which is essential in your company’s growth. When combined with team engagement, regular communication rhythms, and clearly set goals, your firm is on the right track to achieving topnotch results.
Want to learn more how to build lasting relationships with your global team? Talk to Cameron Wright here. Our local industry experts are also ready to share their insights with you.
For a free consultation or call us today at 1300 896 522.
You can also view success stories from our clients here.