Is Outsourcing Worth It?


A few weeks ago my husband and I watched a cute little indie movie called Outsourced. It’s about a VP of Operations/Customer Service Support who learns that his entire division is getting the pink slip and, to boot, their positions are being filled overseas in India, where apparently the company can employ 8 people for the price of 1 American.

Surely, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this scenario.

Global management firms, like Accenture, have staked, at least part of their reputation in recent years on their expertise in outsourcing everything from business infrastructures to operations. And for good reason. It’s cheap…And easy.

Wanna outsource to freelancers, IT companies, and web designers in India and Russia? Applications like oDesk allow you to keep track of your finances with remote employees “as if they were in your office.”

But at the end of the day they’re not. And there’s a value in being able to put a name to a face that no amount of savings from cheap wages can diminish.

Case-in-point.

My company outsources their tech and HR support services. Recently I had an issue with my direct deposit. Obviously, when it comes to money and pay, it’s already a sensitive subject. But when you have an already stressful situation compounded with a communication issue based on not understanding the person responsible for conveying vital information, well then it aggravates the situation.

It may be politically incorrect to say from time to time I experience this with my IT and HR (Employee Benefits) support and that it’s usually an accent that I can’t quite decipher, but it’s a reality and one that I wish could be resolved more efficiently. I usually end the call asking to be transferred to a supervisor just to be able to obtain the correct information. I spend on average 5 minutes on hold waiting to be transferred, in addition to the time spent trying to extract the information I need from the first person I’ve spoken to (which spans anywhere from 5-10 minutes).

I can’t help but think that if these types of incidents are enough to go noticed under my radar others must also be experiencing the same frustration. This frustration must lend itself to dissatisfaction.

According to outsourcing expert Lauren Pratt, such issues in communication often in end in increasingly tense work environments and unhappy employees.

This finding leads me to believe that in a perfect world where I had 0-5 tech or benefits-related issues/yr I might be able to aspire to some lasting euphoric state. Given my present rate of outbound calls, I might have to put that dream on hold for the time being.

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