Off-shoring for Small Business – Here to Stay or Passing Fad?

The world is increasingly flat these days.

Off-shoring of jobs and business functions continues to expand in scope and variety.   Today, off-shoring is very common for call centers and programmers for large companies.   However,  off-shoring has now extended to jobs such as  receptionists and administrative assistants and is being aimed at small to medium businesses as well.  Some off-shore service companies are offering staff for as low as $3.36 an hour!

Examples of off-shored services being offered include:

Administrative & Business Services Writing and Editing Services Internet/Web Services Customer Support Services
Word Processing
Data Entry
Forms Processing
Executive Support
Business Plan
Market Research
Planning & Scheduling
Events Management
General Office Operation
Copy Editing
Web Content
Copy Editing
Advertising Copy
Proofreading & Editing
Creative & Technical Writing
Newsletter editing
Advertising Copy
Internet Research
Web Site Hosting
Web Site Design
Web Site Consulting
Graphic Illustrations
Affiliate Marketing
Site Submission
Website Advertising and Marketing
Order Processing
Customer Surveys
24 Hour Live Operator Answering
Customer Email Processing
Live Online Customer Support
Follow Up Calls
Tech Support
Customer/Contact Management
Desktop Publishing Personal Services Human Resources Sales & Transcription Services
Business Cards
Multimedia Creation
PowerPoint Presentation
Designing Cards, Invitations, Calendars
Resume Writing
Salary Histories
Reference Letters
Paper Writing
College Admission Letters
Complaint Letters
Personal & Family Website
Travel Planning
Gifting & Invitations
Applicant Screening
Background Checks
Payroll & Benefits Management
Job Announcements
Training/Employee Manuals
Payroll & Accounts Payable Processing
General Transcription
Digital and audio
Inbound and Outbound Telemarketing
Lead Generation
Internet Sales
Website Marketing

Large companies have been doing off-shoring for years.  However, managing off-shore services is an unknown for many small businesses today.

Successful off-shoring requires solid internal business processes and a well-defined outsourced job task.  Successful execution requires effort on the part of the small business to provide direction and oversight — and associated comfort, skills and understanding of how to manage remote staff (that you will never see and who live in a different culture!).  Related concerns include non-US/Canada access to business information, internal systems security, outwards facing business image and the churn-rate (and associated retraining required) of the off-shore staff.

Some examples of small-business oriented off-shore services include:  Tasks EverydaySupport Resort, Velan, and SupportSave.

A start-up company called oDesk is interesting because it provides tools and methods to research, vet and manage service providers which may be off-shore.  oDesk service providers span a wide range of services, from development to writing.

These are early days for off-shoring for small businesses.   It’s not clear yet if this likely to be a long-term trend.  It is also not clear yet how effectively a small business can leverage off-shore services or what business processes and job tasks can practically be off-shored.

oDesk may also be the first of many start-ups to focus on ways to make off-shore labor and virtual teams part of the normal fabric of small businesses.   oDesk changes the cost to find, and manage off-shore talent – moving it from big company to small company domain.   Process engineering with supporting tools that change the delivery model economics and allow small business customers (or individuals) to take advantage of previously “high end” or “high cost” services may represent a large opportunity for entrepreneurs.  oDesk and RiseSmart may be the vanguard of a new wave of start-ups that rise out of the recession.

Have you used any off-shored services for your small business?  If you have – what service provider are you using and how is it working out for you?


One thought on “Off-shoring for Small Business – Here to Stay or Passing Fad?

  1. Shawn McCormick

    We’ve used an off-shore s/w design service through what I like to call a “front-desking” service. We use Flextronics and they provide local staff who interface to our development team and then those individuals manage the work off-shore for us. It’s reduced the level of management required from our company and given us an overall rate that still saves significant costs.

    We spent some time looking for a second outsource company last year. The main issue I saw with the second company we selected (who shall remain nameless) was that their development costs have risen so much that they were effectively on par with my local development costs (once you factor in IRAP, ITC, US $ exchange rate, etc.). Add in the turnover/training factor, some comms issues, timezone differences, remote management costs, and it quickly becomes a money-losing proposition. Needless to say we haven’t given them any work to date.

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