Ahead of the Curve: Offshoring Manager

Companies are even off-shoring functions formerly thought of as offshore resistant.


Off-Shoring Manager. Offshoring Version 1.0 had its kinks. Cultural differences turned out to be more problematic than anticipated. But many lessons have now been learned, such as the importance of on-site management of the offshore facility. And there's a better grasp of what kinds of projects should be "far shored" (for example, to India or China), "near shored" (to Mexico or low-cost parts of the United States), or "home shored" to individuals working from home. Most of JetBlue's reservationists, for example, are Americans who happily work from home.

The continuing allure of major cost savings and accessing talent worldwide—made more urgent by global competition and the declining U.S. economy—is causing American corporations and even small businesses to quietly off-shore more than ever. Companies are even off-shoring functions formerly thought of as offshore resistant, such as drug development, marketing research, and innovation of all stripes.

Even some media organizations are off-shoring. For example, Dean Singleton, publisher of the NewsMedia group who also serves as chairman of the board of the Associated Press, told the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association that his company was exploring outsourcing in nearly every aspect of its operations. Who knows? Maybe Best Careers 2010 will be produced in Bangkok.

Tom Anderson, founder and managing partner of Anderson Analytics, says: "Almost all of the larger companies are trying their hand at off-shoring [knowledge work] while trying to keep it as quiet as possible."

Off-shoring well remains difficult, requiring excellent managers with superb organizational, leadership, and multicultural communication skills. People with those skills should find ample, well-paying employment opportunities in midsize-to-large companies or at off-shoring consulting firms such as Accenture, EDS, Equaterra, and Wipro. The demand for Indian workers has ratcheted up costs there, so managers with expertise in working with even lower-cost countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam should be in particular demand.

Learn more: International Association of Outsourcing Professionals and The Black Book of Outsourcing: How to Manage the Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities by Douglas Brown