The success of outsourcing is based on the level of engagement between your offshore team and your Australian team. Ensuring you dedicate an “Australian Champion” who is responsible for your offshore team’s training and management (or an Australian champion for each role you have i.e., Administration champion, bookkeeping champion, etc.) is critical to the success of your business. To get the offshore team operating as quickly as possible, the following process is best followed:
- Week 1
The best way to start your new offshore team members’ induction with you is to have them watch your training videos and read your processes. This will allow them to have a good understanding of what type of work they will be doing, and become familiar with their role before training on the specifics of how to do it. They will also get a high level overview of the process and workflow.
- Weeks 2 & 3
Visit your new team member and train them face-to-face. This will allow you to build rapport with them, and allow them to learn more about you, your firm, and its culture and values. It’s best to have your “Australian champion” with you as they will be the person ultimately responsible for working with them. During the third week, allow them to do the work on their own, while you are there to assist with complex questions, reviewing, and retraining once the task has been completed.
- Week 4-8
The Australian champion should have regular meetings and time allocated to reviewing and training the offshore team on the work allocated. The best results will come when the Australian champion reviews the work, has a meeting with the offshore team around what was done correctly or incorrectly, refers them to the training video and written process to review, then tries the task again. Once this process has been repeated several times and the tasks become more familiar, less training will be required.
- Week 9
The best outcome is to return overseas and conduct face-to-face training on tasks that the offshore team are challenged in, or new higher level tasks you want them to take on. This will also be a good opportunity to build a strong bond and rapport with your offshore team members.
- After week 9
There is no right or wrong number of times per year you should visit your offshore team. Some firms will never visit their team while others will visit every 3 months. The best way to approach it is to set a schedule, and if the team need more face-to-face training, go there. The small investment in the airfare will be paid off with increased productivity.
So, now that your team is trained, what is the best way to manage them? Here are some practical examples of how to best manage:
- Appoint an “Australian Champion” in your Australian office, and appoint a team leader or point of contact in the offshore office
The only way outsourcing will work is if you commit to training and assisting your offshore team to make it a success. The best results come from having an “Australian Champion” who is responsible for training, reviewing, and working with the offshore team leader. This role normally goes from doing the work in Australia, to being the Australian Champion and responsible for the success of the training and growth of the offshore team.
- Treat outsourced team members as if they are in your office
A successful outsourcing relationship requires the outsourced staff to feel part of your team. An effort needs to be made to ensure they are part of your internal communication (like staff news, etc.). You must communicate with them regularly and be there to assist with their training and development needs. You wouldn’t employ someone in Australia and stick them in an office and not talk to them, and you can’t do the same when they are offshore. With the advancement of technology, this is now easy – you just need your Australian champion to be available.
- Manage expectations
Outsourcing works best when there are clear expectations of workloads and KPI’s for both the Australian team and the offshore team. Setting targets that are unrealistic will only demoralise your team. As a rule of thumb, it will take a minimum of three months to get your team productive, but set realistic KPI’s that can be achieved and advanced as they continue to become more productive. You won’t get the best from your offshore team unless they know the goals and what they are there to achieve. They may not get there day one, but they will work towards it, and it won’t be too long before they are hitting the targets.
- Set regular meetings
Implementing a clear meeting structure is important for both your Australian team and offshore team. It gives everyone a chance to engage in their work, check in, or change direction, if need be. This allows all team members to use their time and effort most effectively without constant interruptions or questions.
- Make regular face-to-face and voice contact
To get the best engagement and connectivity with your offshore team, ensure you have regular face-to-face and voice contact. With platforms like Skype, Join Me, and GoToMeeting, it has become easier to communicate with your team member.
- Work on communication styles
Most offshore workers (especially Filipinos where we operate) are taught English from an early age (often from birth) and their skill in the language is amongst the most competitive in the world. However, there are subtleties of written communication that can lead to misunderstandings. Filipinos, like many Asian countries, are known for their indirectness, which can result in misunderstandings. In addition, “yes” doesn’t always mean they understand; it can mean “yes but…” or “maybe”. The best way to identify if they understand is to ask them to explain it to you, or even better perform the task, and see if they can do it.
The Outsourced Accountant supports Australian and New Zealand accounting firms by helping them understand and implement outsourcing solutions to help them become more proactive and truly add value to their clients. If you want to know more about outsourcing, call us at 1300 896 522, and download our e-book.