Whether you run a large corporation or a small mom-and-pop shop, maintaining an organized and efficient archive of your company’s pertinent information and data—its livelihood so to speak—is a job in and of itself. Depending on how many years you’ve been in business, you could be looking at decades upon decades of history. The added pressure of keeping within compliance regulations and retention guidelines, as well as the responsibility of maintaining data security are big tasks. Businesses can’t ignore these duties if they want to remain relevant in a competitive marketplace. Unfortunately many companies don’t allot the necessary time and resources to these important, yet oftentimes overlooked jobs.
Outsourcing document management—everything from document conversion, forms processing, data entry and retention schedules—is a strategy that helps businesses overcome these challenges. Outsourcing is a unique one-stop solution to achieve accessibility and efficiency. A company can reap great benefits with outsourcing—increased productivity, lower cost, ROI, and higher quality results. It’s also suggested that outsourcing non-core activities can help a business cut operational costs and increase productivity up to 50%.
However, even given these advantages, many companies struggle with the idea of outsourcing—whether onshore, nearshore, offshore or local—because it may feel like they’re relinquishing control. In order to feel comfortable and optimistic about outsourcing document management solutions, you need to research the options, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Onshore, nearshore, offshore and local—what’s the difference?
Onshore outsourcing, also referred to as domestic outsourcing, is when work is performed by a provider that operates in the same country as your business. An onshore provider may or may not be located in the same time zone. Typically, these are highly skilled experts in your field, and while there are no major challenges in working with an onshore team, the cost can be much higher than other options.
Nearshore outsourcing falls between onshore and offshore. It’s work performed by providers in bordering countries like Mexico and Canada. Some nearshore providers operate in similar time zones, and proximity makes travel and communication easier and more affordable. Nearshore also presents fewer challenges than offshore because there aren’t as many differences between cultures.
Offshore outsourcing typically refers to working with a provider overseas, in a country other than your own. Countries like India, China and the Philippines are primary locations for globally outsourced work. Cost is the most beneficial aspect of hiring an offshore team, but there are clear challenges like time zones, language barriers and communication styles. The internet and cloud computing have pushed the globalization trend to new heights, making it possible to literally do business with anyone, anywhere in the world—it’s an appealing solution and becoming more popular, but do your research and read the fine print before signing on to partner with any overseas provider.
Local outsourcing is by far the most attractive option if the price is right and the talent is available. Outsourcing locally, or regionally for that matter, offers the best of both worlds—a partnership that excludes any major challenges and setbacks with a skilled, local provider with whom your company can meet face-to-face and easily collaborate.
So, how do you choose? Consider these 5 factors in deciding where to outsource your company’s non-core functions…
1. Nature of Project: Some of the most successful offshore projects are commodity-based—they require little back-and-forth and are primarily hands-off in nature. But no project is the same, so consider the requirements before making a decision. More ambitious, lengthier projects that involve collaboration are better achieved with an onshore, nearshore or local/regional team.
2. Project Management: Look into project management fees—it’s customary for offshore projects to charge 50% of the total project cost in fees, while onshore, nearshore and local/regional may only charge a 5-10% rate. Build these fees into your budget and account for them in your analysis of the total cost of the project.
3. Focus on the Talent: The ultimate goal is an accurate, successful project, so pay attention to the team of talent assigned to you, including the number of individuals and their skill level. Some providers may win you over with their elite talent, but pass your project off to less talented individuals once the contract is in.
4. Identify Risk: Determine your company’s aversion to risk and that of the specific project—certain conditions increase risk. Sometimes the safest choice is onshore or local.
5. Make an Informed Decision/Consider the End Result: Verify that the provider has the experience necessary to handle your project. Get references and testimonials. Focus on long-term objectives and avoid being wooed by first impressions.
Look beyond dollar signs and value
Perhaps you think offshore outsourcing is a desirable choice, both economically and practically. But, don’t fail to look into the challenges that inevitably come with offshore work. We can’t doubt communication’s role in producing high-quality, cost and time-efficient end results. Think about the fact that overseas teams are working the exact opposite work hours— nearly a 12 hour time difference. This can easily complicate any and all means of communication from the get-go, but it also greatly affects turnaround time. Once you consider language barriers, differences in organizational culture, security and quality assurance concerns there are some setbacks to offshore outsourcing.
On the fence about where to outsource your document management or data entry project? ILM offers a no hassle, Try Before You Buy system to get you started with us for free before making a commitment. Contact ILM today to start experiencing how our solutions can help you streamline your business’ documentation needs so you can focus on building your business.