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Don't Let Cross Cultural Issues Hamper Your Outsourced Process


Outsourcing a business process to an offshore location can give you amazing results provided you keep its dampeners in check. One of main factors that can spoil your outsourcing experience is “cultural issues.”  These issues can create a great deal  of misunderstanding between you and the people working on your outsourced process, all of which can jeopardize the results that you want to achieve.  Therefore, you should have a comprehensive plan in place to minimize the cultural differences with  your vendor and the people who are going to work on your process.

Common cultural issues revolve around language, certain colloquial terms that are country-specific, festivals, holidays and ways of doing certain things etc.  While  such issues will definitely crop up, you should be able to identify them and take corrective action before they do any damage to your outsourced process. 

There are certain situations that can warn you of any underlying cultural issues with the vendor or the employees working for you.  These situations are:

Sudden dip in quality or productivity:  If you observe a sharp decline in the productivity figures or the quality of services, before checking anything else find out whether there are any cultural issues are responsible for it.  This is because most of the times these issues are the culprit.  Anything ranging from work culture, ignorance about the expectations of your remote employee to language barriers may be the reason behind the dismal performance of your remote employees.

Repetitive arguments between onshore and offshore employees:  In case your onshore team is consistently giving bad reviews about the offshore team, your first suspicion should be on cultural issues.  Maybe there is not enough communication between the two teams or they find it difficult to get along with each other.   If it is the case, you need to take corrective action immediately.

Though cultural  issues are an integral part of the outsourcing process,  it is not very difficult to work around them.  You just need to be mindful of these issues and should take proactive steps to minimize them.

Let us have a look at the steps you can take to minimize cultural issues with your offshore team:
  1. Be proactive in your approach:  Accept the fact that cultural issues will crop up sooner or later  and make a comprehensive plan to minimize their effect on the outsourced process.
  2. Conduct cultural workshops on both the ends:  Make sure that you train your remote resources on  your work culture, professional terminology and mannerisms well before they start work on your project.  It is also a good idea to make the remote resources acquainted with the topography and culture of your country. You also need to understand the psyche and culture of your remote employees. Therefore,  you should also take time to get yourself acquainted with the culture of the vendor's country.
  3. Conduct regular knowledge tests:  Make it mandatory for both onshore as well as off shore teams to take weekly knowledge tests.  This way, these employees can keep themselves updated with each others' information.
  4. Conduct team building exercises:  Both onshore and offshore employees should be aware of each others' likes and dislikes.  This will create a sense of attachment among these employees.

Cultural issues are a minor challenge to the whole outsourcing exercise that can easily be tackled through proactive planning.

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