There’s no denying that Covid-19 has transformed the way we work. The urgent need to adapt during the global pandemic created an environment of flexibility and choice for workers and employers.
But UK firms are now struggling to recruit the talent they need. This is in part because of Brexit, but it’s also due to the pandemic forcing foreign workers to return home, and many not coming back.
Enter, outsourcing as a hugely beneficial solution.
Why has outsourcing grown so much in the UK?
Independent research by UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) shows the UK has lost around 330,000 workers from the EU – approximately 1% of our workforce.¹ The labour shortage has been exacerbated as some businesses can’t afford to recruit in the UK.
Consequently, the shift to outsourcing to areas where a skilled workforce costs far less is no surprise. But it’s also natural for business owners to worry about how they’ll manage this type of working situation and how they can stay in control.
So how can businesses manage an outsourced framework and make sure it works for them? Here are some key areas to consider.
Clear, direct communication underpins successful outsourcing but it’s easy for language barriers and cultural differences to create misunderstanding. Even time differences can cause worry over whether deadlines will be met consistently.
The best starting point for managing these issues is simply to be aware of them. Businesses can then control their risk of service delivery failures or higher than anticipated costs using digital tools that enable seamless communication regardless of their service partner’s location.
Technological advances have transformed our ability to collaborate with others in a working environment and promote strong working relationships. You only have to consider the virtual Friday get-togethers during Covid-19 to understand how remote teams can gel and strengthen.
It’s not all about the human connection, though. Successful outsourcing hinges on physical processes like document management. By using cohesive, comprehensive software suites it becomes easy to access, transfer, and store files, regardless of the countries involved.
Data security breaches can jeopardise even the strongest businesses, leading to hefty fines and a significant downgrade in reputation. An outsourcing business model needs robust data security and this is one area where control is vital.
Due diligence measures such as scrutinising the vendor’s security policies and systems, and checking for previous data breaches in relation to their other clients, can flag potential issues. Non-disclosure agreements can also ease privacy worries by protecting sensitive commercial data that are handled by the outsourced partner.
Contractual and legal matters
Outsourcing offshore can introduce contractual and legal issues that, if not pre-empted and addressed before signing the service contract, can scupper a seemingly ideal vendor/business relationship and endanger data integrity.
Considering every possible outcome in the working scenario and making provision for its management or resolution is the best way to preserve a good outsourcing relationship. Legally compliant electronic signatures can also speed up contractual processes and offer greater security and control than physically sending contracts and documents for signature.
Performance and control
Setting clear expectations for work quality and output levels – perhaps using performance metrics and KPIs - helps business managers navigate the fine line between keeping control and micromanaging.
Over-managing is a time drain that can quickly cancel out the many benefits of outsourcing – lower costs and a level playing field where smaller businesses can compete with larger rivals, to name just two.
Outsourcing offers an affordable strategy for businesses struggling to recruit in the UK. The significant cost-savings make it a highly beneficial strategic option for many businesses. As with anything, though, there are elements that can scupper even the best-laid plans, and these also need to be considered.
Just as technology came to our rescue during the pandemic, intuitive software is the thread that weaves through our ‘new normal,’ unlocking access to greater efficiency, lower costs, and higher productivity.