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  • The Virtual Workforce: What You Need to Know

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    How to Use Offshore Resources

    Although there are plenty of freelance and contracting resources you can rely on in this country, you may also consider dealing with “offshore” companies—those outside the United States.

    In some cases you may find that running an inbound call center, getting a website designed, or meeting other needs can be far less expensive in India, China, the Philippines, and various countries in Eastern Europe.

    In some countries, however, these cost savings are diminishing. As emerging market countries grow, wages have been growing as well, so there may not be as many opportunities to save as much money as there was in the past.

    There are some additional pitfalls to watch out for when dealing offshore. These include:

    • Cultural or language barriers. These can lead to misunderstandings on what work is expected to be completed and when.
    • Differences in time zones. Remember that when it’s 9 am in New York, it’s midnight in the Philippines.
    • Security. If your company deals with sensitive data, there may be security issues. Some large companies (who may subcontract with you) have contract clauses that require all work be done in the United States.
    • Vendor selection. It can take time to research firms and determine whether they have the skill set to meet your objectives. When you do select a vendor, test them out with a small project first to see if the quality of work and your working relationship will meet your goals.
    • Public relations. Some consider outsourcing offshore as damaging to the U.S. economy. If your customers find out that you use offshore resources, they may reconsider doing business with you.

    In many ways, selecting an offshore vendor requires that you interview candidate firms in the same way you select employees or domestic freelancers. If there’s not a good fit, you may wish to consider selecting a domestic firm instead.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    • Decide if some of your job functions or projects might be suitable for offshore resources—and if you decide to do so, start with a small project as a test.
    • This CNNMoney article explains more about how small companies can benefit from outsourcing offshore.
    • Review this PCWorld article for more insights into outsourcing offshore and which tasks may be most suitable.
    • Read this Dun and Bradstreet article on some of the risks of doing business with offshore providers.
    • This article from Forbes explains why some U.S. businesses are “giving up” on the use of offshore providers.