To engage your local team in your global outsourcing strategy, involve them in discussions and in the implementation of your strategy. Learn more here.
Many owners of accounting and bookkeeping firms who want to expand their business’ capacity as they improve their margins and profitability are using a “two-office strategy” – in other words, global outsourcing.
A key to this strategy’s success is getting local employees on board, since they may start to wonder what outsourcing means for their own jobs. We’ll get into how to engage your local team in your outsourcing strategy in a moment.
One outsourcing strategy, two offices
First, let’s define the two-office concept when it comes to the successful outsourcing of your accounting or bookkeeping tasks to a global team.
“Office 1” is local. This is your current office, your home base, your mothership. Responsibilities for sales, strategy, service and workflow management lie here.
“Office 2” is offshore. This is where your global team works. They’re responsible for completing much of the process-driven and procedural work you had been completing locally before outsourcing these tasks.
How well you communicate and collaborate between these offices will heavily influence the success of your workflow delivery process. This success also depends on your local team being engaged in your outsourcing strategy.
Now let’s dive into how to accomplish that.
Dispel the global outsourcing myth
When many people hear about global outsourcing for the first time, they automatically think, “job replacement.” In fact, the opposite is true.
Global outsourcing can create more stimulating roles that feature more responsibility for your local team members.
“(Outsourcing is) helping to make the business more efficient, which means the local team works on more higher-value work,” says Nick Sinclair, founder of TOA Global.
“We’ve seen outsourcing in over 600 firms globally, and it fast-tracks the careers of local teams doing it,” adds Nick. “The offshore team picks up the lower-level work, which allows the local team to do the higher-level work. And because they’re not doing the lower-level work, they’re progressing a lot quicker.”
Nick’s words echo what Clutch reported in its article, Small Business Outsourcing Statistics in 2019: “Outsourcing can increase small business’ efficiency, allowing in-house employees to focus on projects that fit their skills and grow the company.”
Communicating your reasons, plans and vision for outsourcing should help alleviate your team members’ concerns.
Reassure your local team that their jobs are safe
One way to reassure your local team that their jobs are safe is to explain that you’re turning to global outsourcing as a growth strategy, and not a cost-reduction strategy. This isn’t about cost savings.
In-house team members who are currently stuck in front of a screen doing process-driven work will be able to spend more time on tasks such as:
- Client-facing sales and advisory work
- Providing a better client experience/customer service
- Project management and team leadership
- Innovation and new product development
Take it from Kristen Lovett, founder and director of Klas Business + Accounting.
“Outsourcing has led our teams to work on jobs that they really enjoy, to work closely with clients and talk more with clients,” says Kristen. “It has really increased our output and the quality of our relationship with clients.”
Empower your team with your firm’s vision
If your local team doesn’t know why you’re turning to global outsourcing, they may be skeptical.
Tell them about how you see the industry in 10 years. Then outline where your firm currently sits, and what you need to do (i.e., outsource) to have the firm you want in 10 years’ time.
If all this “Mission and Vision” stuff doesn’t come naturally to you, a couple of tools for creating and communicating a practical vision and strategic plan include the book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and The 1-Page Strategic Plan template by Gazelles (free).
To help your team members feel secure in the face of change, answer their questions as they come up.
Manage change at your firm
Once you’ve communicated your vision and plans to outsource, expect that some members of your team might be resistant to change. They’re used to routine, they may be proud of their expertise and fear being undermined if things change, Mind Tools explains in a video. “They’ll need your help to understand what’s happening.”
In the worst-case scenario, you should be prepared to lose some of your team members. However, this shouldn’t stop you from advancing your firm, your team and your clients into the future.
While there’s always some level of disruption as you change to a new process, the way you approach change management will affect your outcomes. Mind Tools offers a few tips:
- Be clear where your team members can go for answers and help.
- Answer questions as they crop up, so people feel secure.
- Remember that people react differently to change. Watch, listen and support as necessary.
- Give your team time to adjust to the change.
“By predicting the likely responses to change, you can accelerate the development – and provide your people with timely help and support,” Mind Tools wrote in an article about organizational change.
Have your team create a list of tasks that can be outsourced
After your team has bought into the idea of you outsourcing and is aligned with your outsourcing strategy, start getting them involved in ways that reveal outsourcing can make their jobs (and subsequently, your job) easier.
Ask them to each work out what their hourly rate is, write down every task they do and put it into one of four buckets:
- Tasks that could be outsourced and done by someone whose billable rate is lower.
- Tasks that add value and are in line with their charge out rate (and couldn’t be done offshore more effectively or for a lower rate).
- Tasks that take up the most time.
- Tasks they find fascinating and motivating, and would love to do more of, if they had the time.
This exercise should provide you with a good list of what you can turn over to a business process outsourcing provider.
Outsourcing can help fast-track the careers of your local team members, since they’ll be available to help with higher-level work.
The way to engage your local team in your outsourcing strategy is to involve them in discussions and in the implementation of your strategy. This includes dispelling the outsourcing myth about job replacement, reassuring your team that their jobs are safe, communicating your vision, managing change, and asking your team to list their tasks that can be outsourced.
Keeping your local team members in the dark about you using an outsourcing service will only concern them and make them question what’s happening.
“The fact is that organizations don’t just change because of new systems, processes or structures,” according to Mind Tools. “They change because the people within the organization adapt and change too.”
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