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Can You Outsource And Still Maintain Company Culture?

Outsourcing–a treasonous practice or the force of the global economy eroding away the idea of nations? Some say it’s not outsourcing at all, it’s off-shoring. Others call it the “highly-skilled service marketplace.” One might make the humanitarian argument that a job abroad can sustain an entire family. For others “outsourcing” will always sound the battle cry for pitchforks and another reason to join Occupy Wall Street.



What motivates a startup to consider outsourcing in the first place?

  • Speed to market
  • Saving money
  • Rapid iteration
  • Rapid scaling
  • Testing ideas
  • Flexibility
  • Saving money
  • Saving money
  • Saving money



Do startups require outsourcing for survival? Let’s face it, for many the cost of a Silicon Valley talent isn’t feasible at first. Arguably, similar skill can be found around the globe for much cheaper. Besides, industry money dictates high-tech Americans will still command top dollar at top tech companies. No one is taking those jobs away.


If there’s no alternative, is there a way to outsource smartly?

Tasks that require creative thinking or intense interaction with customers should stay in-house. While it’s common practice to station call centers overseas, negative interaction with clients might send them away for good.

What tasks are fair game for outsourcing?

  • Data entry
  • Components of your online marketing strategy (e.g. SEO link building, social media marketing)
  • Software development
  • Graphic design
  • Research & development (this is listed last because it stirs the most controversy. For many, this piece of the business is too vital for future success to send abroad.)

You still need to know your staff

It’s a lot harder to know your staff when they’re not working right beside you. But just because they’re far away doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take ample time to know them. It pays to vet staff rigorously rather than train new employees endlessly. Team members should be chosen with the same care as they would be selected stateside.


Knowing the linguistic aptitude of your employees will save many headaches. Depending on the tasks assigned, there are many reasons why it’s desirable for overseas workers to demonstrate English proficiency. Just to name a few:


  • Miscommunication is frustrating. For everyone.
  • Employees will fail to carry out tasks or perform them incorrectly if instructions aren’t understood
  • The company will look bad if represented inaccurately

Manage with courtesy, respect, patience, and guidance

Supervising employees overseas is a challenge. Having everyone in an office is ideal. However, if the budget doesn’t allow for this, there are more and more temporary work space options available. There’s also an abundance of online management tools for visualizing workflow. These can help with scheduling, maintaining accountability, organizing documents and work reports.


Employees need meaningful work to perform well. Offering guidance and recognizing quality performance will foster the trust and partnership face-to-face relationships lend more readily. Rewarding individuals who do a good job, giving raises and promotions–when deserved–keeps employees happy and invested in the company. Fair compensation is another great way to foster company loyalty.



The economy might seem lousy everywhere, but this can make the competition for experienced, capable workers fierce. Say goodbye to the employees you’ve taken the time to train and develop if they feel undervalued or unappreciated.


In the end, if outsourcing is the only way for a startup to operate cheaply enough to grow sufficiently to create American jobs, will anyone complain? Let the arguments and fledgling startups fly.


Photo credits / / /


Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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