Outsourcing is accelerating in the post-COVID-19 world, but, as Enshored CEO Ian Jackson explains, businesses need to understand its value to get the most out of it.
Ten years after Forbes heralded the “end of outsourcing,” its future has never looked brighter. Business analysts are clamoring to predict dramatic outsourcing growth as they recognize a key trend for 2021: customers have become more demanding.
Offshore outsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular choice, especially for smaller businesses and start-ups, as they seek to market faster.
Some of this is down to dramatic changes to the business landscape brought about by the pandemic. For as Deloitte’s 2020 global outsourcing survey notes, “A remote work culture is gradually being ingrained within companies, and this will help them access global talent from the most cost-effective locations.”
Enshored’s CEO Ian Jackson sees this as a welcome development but says there are still some misconceptions around outsourcing that need to be challenged.
“People still wait too long to outsource, and that’s because they have misconceptions about what is possible,” he says. “A lot of that is being guided by what outsourcing looks like for big legacy businesses like the banks and insurance companies. It’s not like that. We’ve moved away from the traditional outsourcing pricing and business model to sign people on a long-term contract.
“Any company that has more than one or two people’s worth of stuff that can potentially be outsourced should be having the conversation. We’re happy to welcome everyone into the family, even small companies.”
There are, he argues, multiple reasons to start outsourcing. Lower labor and operating costs, the ability to tap into and leverage a global knowledge base, and being able to concentrate more on your core business functions while delegating time-consuming processes are just some of them. But one of the biggest reasons is to help companies scale up and gain access to new market areas.
“We’ve recently had a business come to us because that they couldn’t grow fast enough as they just couldn’t find enough good people,” he says. “We started work with them straight away.
“One of the reasons why people outsource,” he adds, “is they want to take on a flexible partner who can help you expand rapidly as and when they need to.”
Naturally, this sounds like an attractive model for most businesses with strong growth ambitions. But Jackson cautions that there are many businesses where outsourcing won’t work for good reasons.
“IThe person driving the relationship has to want it to succeed,” he argues. “Sometimes, the owner of a business will see the value of outsourcing solely for financial reasons. But they will put the former head of the function in charge of the outsourcing relationship, and it just doesn’t work. If they don’t want it to be successful, it won’t be. You need someone with a positive approach to outsourcing which is excited about learning a new skill.”
Businesses must seek to get the most out of outsourcing and not just view it as a cost-saving exercise. At its core, outsourcing is about helping companies grow, promote innovation, and access new skills to put your company in a better place.
“We don’t want to have teams that are just being yelled at down the phone because the only reason the client has a customer service function is that they have to have one. Not because they want to look after their customers,” he cautions. “I really believe a lot of companies are still like that. Some of them don’t care about their customers, and we don’t think that’s a good match for us.”
For Jackson and the team at Enshored, there is one key ingredient that has to be in place to make sure outsourcing can unlock true scale-up potential; the business in question must be as passionate about outsourcing as they are.
“It can help companies scale fast because they don’t have to worry about all the mundane stuff that’s holding them back,” he explains. “You don’t have to suddenly become an expert on the best place to rent space in London or peripheral issues like that. All those things end up being a drag on getting on with implementing your idea.
“We have space, and it’s easier for us to manage that operational stuff to free you up to focus on growth.”
With the outsourcing revolution showing no signs of slowing, the question many businesses should be asking is not whether it makes sense, but how do I do it right?