Bridging the Cultural Gap in Outsourcing

 

Outsourcing is not simply about delegating certain functions, it is a strategic partnership adopted to add efficiency to the existing business processes and deliver quality services and products in the market.  An outsourcing partner is not simply an agency that takes care of the secondary business functions but a partner to boost the overall business. Hence, it becomes imperative for enterprises seeking to outsource to understand the mission, values, and work processes of a prospective outsourcing firm. Irrespective of the time for which the contract needs to be signed, there are certain things that need to be set right from the very onset. This is because once the contract is signed; it is all about getting down to business. Outsourcing is no longer about doing away with secondary business functions. The outsourcing partners, these days, have undertaken the role of collaborators who majorly contribute to improving the existing business operations and quality of an enterprise’s products and services. Therefore, once an investment is made then there can be no scope for loopholes regarding re-defining the scope of work. Whether an enterprise is outsourcing to India or for that matter any other country, it should be very clear about its outsourcing partner.

Now, one may ask where this cultural aspect steeps into something like outsourcing. The culture that we are talking is very different from the normally understood cultural aspect of a country or a nation. What we are talking about is the work culture of an organization that differs from the others owing to its geographical location. The work culture essentially revolves around how the people interact and the way they get their business targets accomplished. This is the reason why most enterprises choosing to outsource like to visit the facility of the outsourcing partner so as to get a feel of the work culture and devote time into team building. The industry veterans feel that the cultural context can be classified into a high context and low context culture. Generally, Asian and Indian work cultures fall into the high context category simply because people put a great emphasis on honor, traditions, minimizing confrontations, and reputation. Enterprises with this kind of cultural context would aim to gradually develop and nurture a lasting relationship. In contrast, enterprises belonging to the Europe and the US are typically considered on a lower cultural index because of the straightforwardness towards the business goal.  Both the high culture and the low culture attributes directly influence communication, interpretation, productivity, commitment, and interaction.

The major difference in the work culture is displayed by the difference in employee behavior. It has been seen that a lot of effort goes in terms of managing outsourced resources. This occurs mostly because of the difference in the work culture between two different set of employees. Imagine the challenge that an enterprise would face in managing resources whose work culture and capabilities vary from their very own. The best way to resolve these cultural issues is to really create an RFP that defines the work culture and the vision of a company. The second most important thing is to set realistic expectations from the outsourcing partner. These expectations must be clearly mentioned in their service level agreements. Furthermore, an enterprise needs to educate the outsourcing partner on certain aspects of its business so that the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. There will be times when an enterprise would be outsourcing to India but to multiple partners. Even in such a scenario where the different sets of employees are likely to have the same work culture, it is imperative that the enterprise choosing to outsource follows the best practice to avoid any loopholes.

 
 
Raman Gupta