Is it easy to ship work overseas? Does outsourcing really work? Is outsourcing really the answer to rising costs of doing business? Is it our window of opportunity to plug into the vast pool of talent off the human cloud globally?


Rebekah Campbell details her experiences with outsourcing on NY Times. She takes us through a journey detailing her hits and misses with outsourcing, her struggles to plumb deep into the benefits of outsourcing. She quickly learns that while outsourcing to foreign companies can be a huge cost saver, it can quickly turn catastrophic if you don’t handle it right.


Most businesses don’t handle it right. In a way, it’s terrible for your business. Here’s how:


You get what you give

Rebekah realizes that outsourcing doesn’t change the fact that you are still working with people. No matter where people are, they deserve respect. She notes that companies should hire with care, train employees well, and treat them with respect.


Outsourcing often turns belly up for most businesses because offshore hires are treated as cheap labor. Now, that’s terrible because “cheap”, “sloppy”, and “sub-par” is what you get in terms of work delivered.


If it’s just about money, keep it on the home turf

If you decide to do outsourcing because it’s cheap and it helps you cut costs, you shouldn’t even begin in the first place. You are going to get monkeys if you pay peanuts. The reason why outsourcing turns disastrous for most businesses is because these groups of people you hire will work for pay, and nothing else.


There’s not going to be a “team spirit”. There isn’t going to be any passion, and it’s certainly not going to be called teamwork.


Remote doesn’t negate training

Working with remote teams takes just as much effort when it comes to management that traditional teams demand. Shipping work out of the country doesn’t mean you don’t train your team. Agreed that you’ll come to depend on Skype and other forms of keeping in touch but training is still essential.


Just as essential as any home-based team would demand.


Little or no training gives you a team that can barely keep up with work demands. Most employers or businesses don’t even think about training remote staff.


That’s a pity.


The responsibility is yours; not theirs

Delegation is a skill precisely because there are many factors involved such as smart hiring, great onboarding, respectable pay, plenty of benefits, room for growth, and exemplary training. Even after all this, the primary responsibility to get teams to function well is yours.


The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders and not on theirs. It’s easy enough to rattle on about outsourcing horror stories as David Sinick of Income Diary does.


But you are missing the point: if someone in your team doesn’t perform right, it’s your fault. Period.


How do you do justice to your outsourcing efforts?


  • Hire the right people and hire them for their attitude (experiment as much as you like).
  • Develop systems and processes that are efficient working for team members as well as the organization as a whole.
  • Give teams time to settle down and get into the groove of working.
  • Help teams understand the importance of productivity, getting things done, and delivering on time.


Just because outsourcing holds the promise of saving time, faster time to market, worldwide access to talent, and saves costs doesn’t make it easy or foolproof. Working with people anywhere is challenging. Outsourcing adds a few dimensions to these same management issues.


As with anything to do with business, there’s sweat, tears, and blood involved just to get it right. To make it work great for you, it’s completely another story altogether.