Earlier this week, I received a news release about John Jasper, CEO of SEI Information Technology. Opening with the sentence, “John Jasper doesn’t apologize for his firm’s service facility in Debrecen, Hungary,” the release contains some of the usual rhetoric about offshoring helping American businesses. But then the release takes an interesting turn: “The secret to successfully managing off-shore services – and any type of outsourcing, for that matter – is competing on quality and flexibility instead of cost.” Here, then, is Jasper’s advice for successful — and mindful — offshoring:
- Keep the value close to the customers. This has nothing to do with geography and everything to do with quality of service. SEI’s domestic service centers use sophisticated Internet telephony to keep close to the needs and requirements U.S. customers. Yet for European callers closeness means being able to get support they need in their native language.
- A global economy requires investments in global markets. SEI invested in a European service facility, not in the pursuit of lower labor costs, but to coincide with the needs of domestic customers expanding into off-shore markets. Jasper says long-term ROI will come from increased international revenue rather than decreased expenses.
- Relationships rule. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) become the focus of many outsource relationships, at home or abroad. But the dynamic complexities of day-to-day operations often transcend what can be dictated in a document, especially when the document is created before business begins. Just as regular face-to-face communication with customers about their expectations and requirements builds successful long-term relationships, so does continual direct contact with managers in outsourced facilities.
- Projects may vary, but service quality can’t. No matter where operations are based customers must see one company through any interaction. Despite differences in local custom or culture, every individual in the enterprise must understand the company’s core value and deliver it.