Welcome to 2017. Whilst this is the time that everyone is crazily developing their New Year’s Resolutions and breaking them already! I am a big fan of businesses taking stock and reviewing the year that was, whilst planning your goals for the next. In light of new starts I thought I would share some pictures of our new centre in Clark, Philippines, and some of the hardworking accountants, legal support team and general admin that keep the light on. Enjoy my top tips for Outsourcing success in 2017!
1. The selection of a great Outsourcer
This one is easy, take your time! Your Outsourcer is not simply a remote office with some random person sitting in it. This should be seen as a strategic partnership. These guys are your back up, they support your team, your clients and they probably drive fantastic financial outcomes in your business. If they don’t currently, then you have the wrong partnership and you should get out! Ask questions, review the location and check that they are who they say they are. A flash looking picture may very well not be the real thing. If you or your team can visit the location this is highly recommended, the cost of failure with the wrong partner will far outweigh the minor costs of a office inspection. You may be very surprised with what you see!
2. Recruitment/Induction/On boarding and Training
Firstly, check that if you’re asking for your very own team member that they are not a shared resource, price can uncover this quickly. If it sounds cheap then it probably is. Secondly, your Outsourcing partner should be able to support your requirements for a Position Description, all the advertising, pre-interviewing, testing, personality profiling, local Security checks and then the NBI (yes, similar to the FBI) and then the final presentation for interview by you, the client! Thirdly, Induction and On boarding is a crucial part of embedding your company culture, your outsourcing partner represents your brand and this should be easily visible. Lastly, continuous training, all outsourcers say they do this, but do they? Check that your Outsourcer has a plan.
3. Performance Management
Yes, for real, even your Outsourcer needs to have Performance Management processes in place, your Outsourced team member is a real person to! This program differs dramatically based on just how hands on your Outsourcer is. “The problem is yours” is not something you want to hear, nor is the term “your managing them”. These terms should strike fear in your heart. A strong Outsourcer should share the responsibility to support your remote team members and ensure that they are operating at maximum efficiency, of course they can’t do all the work, you will have to develop and maintain your own relationships!
4. General Communication
Daily communication where possible should be encouraged. Consider them in another location that you can’t get to easily. Take responsibility and accountability over the daily communication and relationship build of your team, it will pay you back many times over with reduced churn and increased productivity. Remember, remote is not removed!
5. Philippine Holidays – they’re random!
In some ways the Philippine Public Holiday process is easy. Usually they observe the same holidays as the Aussies do. Most firms are comfortable with our Filipino colleagues taking days off when they do. However, there are a further 10 (usually 10, this is subject to change) holidays that can move and are decided upon by the President. These declared holidays can disrupt your working relationship and may even disrupt outcomes. Some additional days are particularly sensitive and it is not expected that Filipinos work. Pre-planning is critical to ensure the cultural sensitivities are understood but that capacity planning can be supported.
6. IT Security and Privacy
It doesn’t get much scarier when you talk about IT Security/Privacy and you or your client’s personal information is in another country. Although a Security/Privacy Statement would look nice the Outsourcing organisation must live and breathe security. They must be able to exhibit this behaviour and it must permeate throughout the business at all levels. From the front desk reception, secure rooms for testing (these should be outside the working environment for best practice), no Wi-Fi for hacking, reduce Skype usage, the implementation of more secure platforms for video communication is preferred, through to communicated best practice in centre,
blocked domains, no printing rules and no mobile phones at the desk etc. The list can be long, utilising a top level cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services to provide a secure network but to also provide a remote log on to servers anywhere in the world. Your Outsourcer should be able to recommend a local IT team to support your transition and ensure that your systems are also up to scratch with theirs. Request a review and look for their support, an answer of “that’s your problem”, is more common than you think.
7. Centre Redundancy
Centre Redundancy is a critical consideration when choosing your business partners. It's one thing to claim fancy offices, close to transport and a range of benefits for your team, however it's another thing whatsoever to have business continuity if the weather decides to disrupt things a little bit. Insist that your supplier has dual fibre, supplied by different carriers. Your centre should be supported by diesel generators, big ones! These kick in when weather is an issue. However, an even better idea is to avoid Manila all together, outlying areas such as Clark offer sanctuary outside the city limits without the risk of flooding. These trade free zones are an excellent choice for business and present great working conditions, secure, clear and safe roads and infrastructure.
8. Language barriers
The official languages are Filipino, which is based on Tagalog with words from other native languages, and English. Since only 55 percent of residents speak Filipino fluently, English is used in colleges, universities, the courts, and the government. The country's seventy to eighty dialects are derived from Malay languages. "Taglish," a mixture of Filipino and English, is becoming a standard language. Filipinos are proud that their country has the third largest number of English speakers in the world. Filipino English includes many British terms. It is a formal language that includes words no longer commonly used in English.
The culture of the Philippines is a combination of Eastern and Western culture. Before the Spanish colonisation of the country, the Philippines' culture was mainly influenced by the indigenous Malay heritage of Southeast Asia. The Spanish Empire then colonized the islands and, after more than three centuries of colonisation, Roman Catholicism spread throughout the archipelago and Hispanic influence heavily impacted the country's culture Then, after being colonised by Spain, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for almost 50 years. Influence from the United States is manifest in the wide use of the English language and in the modern pop culture of present-day Philippines. Filipinos believe that it is one's duty to keep things operating smoothly. It is very important not to lose face. Being corrected or correcting another person in public is not considered acceptable behaviour. People want to grant all requests, and so they often say yes when they mean no or maybe. When one is asked to join a family for a meal,
the offer must be refused. If the invitation is extended a second time, it is permissible to accept. Time consciousness and time management are not important considerations. A planned meeting may take place later, much later, or never.
The selection of a strong Outsourcing business partner should take time and not be hurried. Ensuring that they can support you regardless of your understanding and help you through what will initially be overwhelming. Working closely with your Outsourcer to ensure that you understand the IT, that you have developed systems and processes in place is also critical. As always I am open to criticism or conversation, I invite both.