The small to medium sized business offshore outsourcing industry is at an impasse due to mixed reviews. Some clients swear by the process of outsourcing to countries like India and Philippines, while others speak of horror stories.
For small businesses new to the idea of outsourcing overseas, this causes quite a dilemma. Who do you believe? In this blog post, I spell out 3 reasons why the horrific horror stories that you often find online should be taken with a pinch of salt, (and why they should not prevent you from comprehensively and objectively assessing the case for outsourcing ).
More often than not, when clients complain about a nightmare outsourcing experience, it is primarily a result of their own negligence. Why this happens is something that I have already discussed at length in one of my earlier blog posts; (click here to read: Clients to blame for most outsourcing failures).
It is also worth keeping in mind that the nightmare outsourcing reviews you read are one-sided, as the vendor doesn’t get the opportunity to share their version of events, (we are well aware of the maxim – don’t judge anyone until you hear both sides of the story). When clients are lambasting their outsourcing experience, what you do not get to know is:
One employee working for 7 days a week and that too, for 10 hours per day! Don’t suppose, it’s exactly a very reasonable request!
A $1000 for a Java developer?! The salary of a Java developer in India will be significantly higher than $1,000 per month and here, the client wants to pay the same for the total cost of the service! Completely ludicrous! If this client partners with any firm, for a fee event remotely close to what they are offering, they are going to get their fingers burnt because they will end up partnering with a rogue entity that will hoodwink them. If then, the client complains that they had a nightmare outsourcing experience, such an assessment is unfair.
In my opinion, the failure should be attributed to the client for having such unreasonable demands and for wanting to pay such an unrealistic fee. You should have the business acumen to know that there will always be some ‘mom and pop outsourcing shops’ that will happily accept whatever you you want to pay, when you outsource. If you lack this foresight, then your outsourcing experience will fail not due to a lack of expertise overseas, instead due to your own negligence.
Even when clients act illogically and irrationally, and since there is a lack of comprehensive information as to how to methodically outsource, they end up making poor outsourcing decisions, (even if they are sincerely trying to be diligent ). This does not mean outsourcing cannot or does not work, but rather clients just don’t know how to successfully outsource .
If an impartial mediator were to scrutinize all the facts about negative outsourcing reviews, their verdict (more often than not), would be that the failure was not the fault of the vendor, but it was the client’s. However, such an investigation will never happen. What is even more unlikely is that clients will openly own up to their role in the failure of their outsourcing endeavors.
Introspection and confessing to mistakes are not exactly the strongest traits of the human race. This is why so many clients still continue to have such a hit and miss affair when outsourcing. The real truth behind why outsourcing fails and why it succeeds is not being openly identified, acknowledged and published, (hence, the need for this blog). The wrong reasons are being attributed, because not enough clients are publically sharing and owning up to their mistakes.
There is no doubt in my mind that the above is true. One source of evidence is the number of clients we have worked with, who previously had nightmarish outsourcing experiences, but have now gone on to have brilliant results with us, (check out www.VirtualEmployee.com/testimonials and you will find several case studies of clients sharing their positive experiences of working with us). How is it that so many of our clients have gone from ‘outsourcing nightmare’ to ‘outsourcing success’ so quickly? It is because they are now outsourcing diligently, opting for the right delivery model and steering clear of rogue vendors? I know this to be a fact, one which our clients themselves have humbly shared. Lack of talent and professionalism has nothing to do with outsourcing failures, (provided you partner with well-established firms), and all such reasons are incorrectly attributed.
Outsourcing is in a desperate need of a cohort analysis. If we were to dissect the reviews on outsourcing – clients who outsourced recklessly or played a contributing role in their failure and other clients who outsourced prudently, we will find that the failure rate of the latter cohort would be significantly lower than the former. Take sensible steps, make informed decisions, partner with a reputed firm , ensure that you opt for the correct delivery model and it will no longer be the hit and miss affair, it is considered to be. If only a cohort analysis could be undertaken, the data would prove this to be true.
When companies outsource and experience brilliant results, they are often reluctant to spread the message. They either don’t want their competitors to discover a competitive advantage of theirs or because they don’t want to be associated with outsourcing for fear of negative appraisals, (there are many anti-outsourcing advocates as well). Clients often tell us these are the reasons why, despite being happy with our service, they are reluctant to publicly share their experiences. We thus, have to approach several happy clients before we get one of them to agree for a case study or testimonial. The key takeaway is that the number of clients that are happy with their outsourcing results are disproportionally represented.
Whilst on the one hand, success stories are not readily shared, horror outsourcing experiences are very readily shared and tend to be incredibly sticky. Poor outsourcing experience makes good headlines and new stories. They are also a favourite of anti-outsourcing advocates who encourage their sharing and circulation.
Thus, you have a scenario where, clients who attain brilliant results by outsourcing are trying to hide their experiences and at the same time, clients who attain poor results have their experiences easily shared, (without any inquest into whether there was any negligence on their part). A horror outsourcing experience does make for innately catchy content.
For the above reasons, outsourcing reviews need to be taken with a pinch of salt. We must keep in mind that a) negative reviews are disproportionally represented and are always greater in number and b) reviews are themselves not impartially reviewed. When ‘outsourcing nightmare’ stories are broadcast, there is no ‘fair trial’. As is often said, there are always 3 versions to any disagreement – ‘your version,’ ‘my version’ and ‘the truth’.
The vendor never gets to defend himself or make their side of the story public. Did the client have unreasonable expectations? Was the client demanding additions to be made to the project that went beyond the original project specifications? Until, these points and biases are addressed and until an accurate cohort analysis is undertaken; (one where clients were complicit in their downfall), it is unfair to overly rely on reviews and to use them to gauge for your level of risk while outsourcing.