What Can I Offshore?

With today’s technology and talent available in the Philippines it’s arguably feasible to offshore just about any business process you can think of. From technical back end administration to outbound client engagement, there will be a way to utalise an offshore approach and our guess is that someone at some point has probably tried it (to varying degrees of success). 

What you can and what you should offshore are two distinct questions however.

What should I offshore?

Before we get started bear in mind that at Yoonet we specialise in supporting small Australian businesses in accessing offshore resources in the Philippines. It goes without saying that for bigger businesses with the ability to dedicate internal resources to establishing, developing and expanding offshore strategy, the breadth and complexity of processes that can be offshored is greater. 

In this article, we focus on the type of business process that leads to the biggest bang for buck, or the low hanging fruit as we call it, and how you can identify them. Overtime, once your offshore resources are established and you have gained confidence in your approach and the ability of your team, complexity and diversity of process can be added incrementally.

Offshore processes - not roles or jobs

It’s important to understand what it is you are offshoring in the first place. Offshoring is best conceptualised as identifying certain processes within your business, not roles or jobs, that can be performed more effectively offshore.

This might seem like we are just playing with words here but conceptualising offshoring at a process level does a couple of things:

  1. It helps to find the most effective “parts” of existing roles to offshore that can deliver the greatest value;
  2. It changes the mindset from replacement of onshore roles to one of identifying ways to support onshore roles by removing certain time consuming process from your higher cost onshore team;
  3. It provides structured, tangible tasks for your offshore talent to learn, execute and improve over time.

One last thing, it is highly unlikely that an existing role, in its entirety, can be offshored effectively. Focus should be on the more easily offshored, higher frequency processes that can be removed from onshore labour that in turn allows restructuring of existing roles to focus on more complex, higher value tasks. As examples;

  1. Have your existing bookkeeper/accountant focus on Account Receivables to get paid quicker by offshoring Accounts payable. Or perhaps have you onshore accountant focus on forecasting and reporting to increase business intelligence by offshoring AR/AP;
  2. Add time to your sales staff day by removing administration. Have the same, valuable sales resource focussed on income generation not paperwork and avoid hiring more onshore resources;
  3. Improve quote accuracy and presentation by having an offshore VA format your outbound submissions in a structured templates, customised to your target client;

Effort vs Frequency

The impact of offshoring a process is directly related to;

  1. The Effort required to implement, train and manage the component tasks within the process in an offshore context; and
  2. The Frequency of the process. 

The less effort to offshore the process and the higher the frequency, the greater the value unlocked by offshoring. The below matrix is a great way to determine which processes may be the most impactful in the short term and ones that may take longer or may not be suitable.

What contributes to the Effort required to offshore?

Frequency is easy to determine for each process you are evaluating by determining the effort required to offshore a process is not as straightforward. One thing to keep in mind when evaluating effort is to remember that effort is not necessarily correlated with complexity. That is to say, complex processes don't necessarily require more effort to offshore. 

A great example are accounting processes requiring specialised accounting knowledge to accurately record, process and report on financial transactions. Ask any non-accountant and it is fair to say most would call the process reasonably complex, however, accounting is one of the most commonly offshored business functions for SME’s and the reason for this is that it ticks all the boxes of a low effort process.

Low effort process generally share the most or all of the following traits;

  1. They are “managed” in natively cloud based tech solutions - the cloud based software used to administer the process “controls” for complexity (think Xero for accounting or a Customer Resource Management system for customer relations);
  2. The input to the process is structured in nature - its the same data or fields everytime;
  3. The input is digital (or digitised) - an electronic data file or native PDF (not scanned or handwritten information);
  4. The process is rules based - the rules themselves can be complex but are discreet in nature; there is only one right outcome dependant upon on the input;
  5. The output of the process requires no unstructured communication with your clients or external stakeholders - no emails to be drafted, phone calls to be made. 

So let's apply the above to say an accounts payable process;

  1. The process is housed within a cloud solution (Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks etc);
  2. The input is structured, there is always a client, an invoice number, an amount etc. The data “fields” are the same every time;
  3. The input to begin the process is natively digital - an electronic invoice or native PDF meaning no handwriting interpretation or missing data;
  4. Depending upon the input (invoice type), certain rules are applied to accurately code the invoice. Those rules are fixed and interpretation of them is limited if any;
  5. Response to external stakeholders is in the form of standardised emails generated by the system, no random communication is required to external parties to complete the process. 

In this context, it is fairly apparent why accounting is so well suited to offshoring.

Leverage your existing platforms

A good place to start in identifying the ideal processes for offshoring is to consider the software solutions you use in your business today. Think about the day to day interactions of your onshore team with these solutions and identify opportunities for those tasks to be performed remotely. Some examples of software administered by clients of Yoonet include:

  1. Accounting solutions;
  2. Customer Resource Management systems (CRM’s);
  3. Practice management solutions for allied health;
  4. Real estate management solutions;
  5. Appointment and scheduling software;
  6. Quoting software;
  7. CAD drafting solutions;
  8. E-store management solutions;
  9. Social media scheduling software;

In each case, an offshore VA or team of VA’s, assisted by the software solution, perform countless hours of repetitive tasks each month adding enormous value to their onshore counterparts. 

Overtime, as your confidence in the process grows, investing time into identifying additional processes becomes a no brainer. 

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