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What roles are suitable for start-ups and small businesses to send offshore?


Hiring skilled staff who are based offshore can transform your small business and position it for growth, but it’s a decision where you must look before they leap.

A business with problematic management and poor retention, for example, will not suddenly rid itself of these issues by moving its accounts payable section offshore.

Businesses are complex systems – whether you’re a start-up, SME or a major corporation, unplugging one component and moving it somewhere else is not as straight forward as stacking interlocking blocks.

Turn a critical eye to your business’s operations

Before deciding to engage an offshore provider and engage in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), you should turn a critical eye to your business’s overall operations and identify where there is value to be gained by offshoring labour.

This may involve a top-to-bottom assessment of the business and identifying key tasks across critical back office services which could be effectively offshored without impacting local employees. The tasks identified are usually the ones considered to be process or labour intensive, and which could be administered efficiently by offshore team members.

By offshoring process or labour intensive tasks, local employees are able to focus on the main growth initiatives and providing exceptional customer service. The benefits offshoring can deliver include reduced operating costs and increased competitiveness.

Are there roles that don’t need a physical office presence?

Of course, the success of offshore programs depends on the processes and procedures underpinning them. If processes and culture are not right locally these problems will be replicated offshore, so it’s worth investing the effort into a review of the efficiency of your existing policies and processes. The reward for this investment will be well-documented and robust processes that provide your best chance of successfully implementing an offshore team – plus your business may find new efficiencies for local team members.

Think about the systems and roles that aren’t working efficiently or cost-effectively at a local level. Are there roles that don’t need a physical office presence? If employees can perform their tasks efficiently from home, they can be effectively offshored.

It’s important to start in a measured way: you wouldn’t send all your customer service team offshore in one move, for example, you might start with moving a few back office roles.

It’s also important to look at this not just as a cost-cutting exercise. Over time, businesses can reduce costs significantly, but in the short-term setup stage offshoring will increase costs, so it’s essential to be moving the roles that will help your business growth strategy.

Key roles an SME might consider sending offshore

While all businesses are different, your operation might benefit from offshoring the following roles:

Computer-aided design (CAD). For many small businesses, access to skilled CAD professionals can be prohibitive due to the high demand for and cost of these roles. In Australia, these skills would cost a small business more than $75,000 a year. In the Philippines, for instance, an experienced CAD professional costs closer to the $30,000 mark and can perform a range of tasks including coordinating designs with engineering and planning teams, drafting site drawings, producing 2D or 3D imagery and preparing detailed work drawings. By employing CAD designers offshore, businesses can provide overnight solutions and support for customers and clients locally. Project management businesses, small, medium and large home builders and commercial construction companies, architectural firms and commercial fitout companies can all take advantage of offshore CAD roles.

Accounts payable and bookkeeping. With a large pool of highly educated accountants trained to global accounting standards, the Philippines offers a ready solution to maintaining ongoing management tasks such as accounts payable and routine bookkeeping.

Digital marketing. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is now a major component of any successful digital marketing strategy. Skilled SEO professionals who can keep on top of the latest search engine algorithms to best promote a company online do not come cheap, and are often out of reach for smaller businesses. SMEs can benefit from establishing a digital marketing capacity in a lower-cost market such as the Philippines, with access to tertiary-educated professionals with excellent English-language skills.

Website design and management. An online presence is vital for many businesses but it can be a large budgetary expense to build and maintain a productive website. Manila is one of the most ‘wired’ cities in the world, with a vast skills-base of web designers and engineers. A dedicated offshore team of web professionals can develop and maintain a web business with easy access to high quality data centres.

The bottom line

Thanks to rapid advances in telecommunications technology, running an offshore team is no different to running a team in another state in Australia.

As part of a thorough strategic review of operations, a well-structured business plan that includes basing some aspects offshore can be the right path to sustainable growth and success.

About the author

Angela_VidlerAngela Vidler is CEO of Diversify, a national offshore solutions specialist that works with large and small listed and private companies to help grow their businesses by establishing tailored offshore teams. With offices in Australia and the Philippines, Diversify helps businesses identify and solve their unique problems, by nurturing and fostering high quality, high performance teams.