Why Successful Businesses Outsource Content Creation

tax preparation serviceTwenty years ago I don’t think anyone could have really imagined everything that would be required today in order to have success in business. It is no longer just about providing great service or product and a solid sales team supported by traditional marketing. Any business today needs an online presence that goes far beyond a simple website.

You now need social media accounts, a blog, a broad range of SEO and SMO activities and artifacts, and so much more. Just learning it all can take up a tremendous amount of time, let alone, trying to actually find the time to put it all into practice. Blogging alone can easily keep a writer busy full time. And content that you need to produce is not just limited to blog posts.

Articles and various content elements used in SEO, website content, e-books, whitepapers, sales letters, auto-responders, …really just about anything your marketing team needs requires a lot of content. And not just a lot of content, but a lot of different types of content, that might require a diverse set of skills, tons of attention, and can cost you a lot of money…

That is where content outsourcing comes in: Continue reading

Offshore Developer Rates, a Few More Words

If there is one question in the outsourcing industry that never goes away it would be the question of rates.  So I thought i should share with you a cute infographic from Staff.com – Salaries of Web Developers in India, the Philippines, USA and Around the World that I run across when doing a research for one of my clients.

Continue reading

What to Expect in 2015 – Revealing Trends in Outsourcing

Business Man with Crystal BallHow is outsourcing going to change in 2015? Outsourcing industry is a large ship that won’t turn on a dime, yet various forces have been reshaping the industry for quite some time and results are becoming more obvious every day. Certain trends ought to be followed as the landscape changes to accommodate new demands from individual consumers and businesses alike.

The strongest forces that shape the outsourcing industry include technology advancements such as raise of AI, cloud technologies and advanced robotics and automation. Another group of trend setters is related to political changes in the world, increasing standards of living among IT population of common supplies of labor in that sector – India, China and Eastern Europe.

Re-shoring, rural sourcing and near-shoring will grow

Regional providers are taking the stage, as the re-shoring trend is emerging strongly. While global outsourcing still maintains its position, local and nascent players will increase their reputation and take larger chunk of the market utilizing near-shore advantage in addition to cost effectiveness and productivity.

More tools, processes and systems will move to the cloud

More intelligent apps, software and agents will be implemented in the cloud, to make everyone’s job easier. Clients and providers will meet on this common ground in 2015. Labor will be seen more and more as a service, following in the footsteps of this trend. Cloud offering of services akin to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is going to pick up pace as well. Continue reading

How to Stay on Top of a VAs Work Without Micromanaging

MicromanagerEveryone who uses VAs on somewhat consistent basis  has been burned at some point, and I am no different. In fact, a few years ago I had hired a VA to work on SEO. Initially her work was good but at some point it became spotty, and eventually, downright bad. As it turned out, she had “outsourced” her job to her 9-year-old son. Apparently she thought kindergarten was enough of an education to tackle the job. While this story might seem shocking, it is not unique, and after you have been burned once or twice, it can be easy to fall into a trap of micromanaging.

While staying closely on the top of your VA’s work might seem necessary, in the end of a day you just want to ensure that you are getting what you pay for, it is quickly become bad for both your working relationship and your overall bottom line.

Do you think you aren’t guilty of micromanaging?  Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you often find yourself frustrated because your VA didn’t do exactly what you told them?
  • Do you spend a lot of time making corrections and cleaning up your VAs deliverables?
  • Do you notice that nothing that your VA does is good enough?
  • Do you need to know exactly where your VA is and what they’re working on?
  • Do you need frequent and detailed updates?
  • Does it always take your VA longer to do the task then it should or would’ve been if you’d done it yourself.?
  • Do you spend a lot of time reconciling timesheets and deliverables?
  • Do you prefer to be cc’d on all emails?
  • Do you think that getting a VA was a bad idea?

If you answered “Yes” to 3 or more questions in this list, chances are you are micro-managing your VA. If you said “Yes” more than 5 times, then I need to tell you that you, my friend, are a micro-manager without a doubt and you will lose some really great employees if you don’t stop. Alas, while this is great advice, it is not easy for many of us to instantly stop micromanaging. So just take it easy and start letting go one piece at the time. Continue reading

Five Proven Ways to Bridge the Cultural Gap When Outsourcing to China

bridging-the-gap

Outsourcing, particularly offshore outsourcing, can be quite taxing due to communication and cultural challenges; this is particular evident for countries like China, which are culturally very different from the Western world. If the cultural differences are not tackled properly, they can cause irreparable losses of both, time and finance; as tension and communication breakdowns due to cultural conditions make it near to impossible to reap the benefits of outsourcing.

Our entire lives are governed by culture and it is the primary factor that determines all the choices we make as well as the preferences we opt for; yet it essentially remains invisible to us. It is only when we actually move into a new place or find ourselves dealing with someone from a “far away land” that we are struck by the magnitude of the impact that it has on our daily lives.

There are many profound differences between the Western and Chinese cultures that can impact communications, teamwork, and motivation of your employees. Here are a few of the most pronounced differences:

  • People in China put far more emphasis on team collaboration and performance than on individual contribution. People are generally more humble and frown upon on self-promotion which is very common and often necessary in the USA.
  • Chinese society is far more formal and hierarchical than in the USA. Hierarchy and clear delineation of duties are not only respected – they are required for productive collaboration. While in the Western countries we see informal style practically required for successful collaboration.
  • Vast majority of people in China value maintaining harmonious relationships over accomplishing tasks, and a typical Western remark such as “nothing personal” would not be understood.
  • Avoiding public confrontation is built in into the Chinese culture and maintaining “face” plays extreme importance in communications. Cut to the chase, “in-your face” truth so common among Americans will gain no support in China.
  • Chinese look differently at rules and regulations than most Americans. The Chinese people place more faith in personal relationships than in written rules and procedures.

Each of these differences can easily derail otherwise successful engagement, combination of them is truly terrific. The good news is that you can address this challenge in a structured manner, bridge cultural gaps, and minimize the risks of inevitable tensions that develop due to cultural differences.

Here are five proven ways to bridge the cultural gap when outsourcing to China.

  • Language. In order to truly access the Chinese culture and to thrive with them, the first step is to learn their language. Unfortunately, learning Mandarin or Cantonese is likely to look like an insurmountable challenge for most native English speakers living the USA or Western Europe. A short cut here is to hire a few key on-site team members who are already bilingual. I also recommend learning at least ~50 of most common Chinese words and expressions. The good will generated by this effort could be hardly overstated.
  • Cross-culture Education. Both your offshore and onshore teams can benefit greatly from learning the culture of the other shore team. I recommend hiring professional training or outsourcing advisory team specializing on cross-culture education.   A one or two day event will go a long way to cover the gap.
  • Team Swaps. Swapping team members, a program similar to foreign exchange student, is a great practice. Team members that are going to the other shore should go through a cultural training boot camp prior to departure.
  • Capitalizing on differences.Don’t force what’s unnatural and against the grain in terms of culture, don’t try to change your team members’ cultural foundations, beliefs or habits. Changing people is a futile venture in general. Instead recognize the differences and capitalize on them. For example, the Chinese predilection to hierarchy and team collaboration can help you build stronger teams.
  • Compensation and Motivation.Design compensation, motivation and recognition systems in a way they take cultural aspects into consideration. Simple adjustments such as “team of the month” instead of “employee of the month” can make a huge difference.

By no means is that an exhaustive list of tools that can help you to build better relationships with your partners in China. Would you like to go deeper into this topic? Do you have your own ideas you’d like to share? Please comment or email me at krym2000-po@yahoo.com.

Five Ways to Screw Up Your Content Outsourcing

regret-nohingAs our world becomes increasingly virtual, and therefore more connected, more and more companies are considering content outsourcing for a variety of tasks. This can be a truly great decision for any company, but there are also plenty of ways to screw it up.

For example, a client of mine decided to outsource his company’s blog. He hired a few providers on eLance and moved forward without establishing expectations for quality and even without defining when the work should be delivered. It turned into a complete nightmare after months went by with very few acceptable blog posts. Eventually my friend had to find a new writer. That put his company months behind schedule to meet their viewership goals. In fact, they ended up losing many of their existing followers due to the slowdown in content publishing.

Nothing like that ever happened to you? Maybe something similar? Well, here are five ways you can be guaranteed to screw up your content outsourcing:

Don’t take the time to identify what you really need. Before even beginning the process of outsourcing, you need to identify what it is that you need. Use S.M.A.R.T. approach to identify objectives and criteria for success. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, it will be impossible to find the perfect person/company for the job.

Don’t do your due diligence. Take the time to research the provider. Ask for examples of their past work. Have them provide references. And spend the time necessary to find out if they really have the skills and knowledge required to do the job well.

Don’t set up clear expectations. Before your new provider ever begins working for you, you need to set up clear expectations. Your S.M.A.R.T. objectives will coma handy at this point. Have specific tasks and milestones for when the work needs to be completed or sent in for review. Miscommunication of expectations can easily kill what could have turned out to be a fantastic relationship.

Don’t get guarantees. Have a contract with your provider that clearly establishes what is expected and that offers guarantees of the quality of work that should be delivered. This helps protect both of you.

Don’t get buy in from everyone. Unless you are a sole proprietor, you likely have at least a few other decision makers that need to be consulted before making a decision regarding outsourcing. In order for outsourcing to be successful you have to receive buy in from all of the people that have a major stake in the outcome.

What do you do to ensure your content outsourcing success? What have been your failures? Or successes? Please share your personal stories and suggestions in the comments below or send me an email at krym2000-po@yahoo.com.

Traveling to Ukraine? It Could be a Mixed Bag Experience, So Check Out This Post First

kievEven though I have been to Ukraine over a dozen times the country never fails to amaze me with its beauty and hospitality. I always wonder if that’s just me, but all my friends who live in Ukraine or moved from claim that friendliness and hospitality are the common character traits  and beauty is genetic.  Whether it’s true or not, chances are you will love the country, and yet, traveling to Ukraine is an experience a foreigner should be well-prepared for.  So before you jump on a plane, please consider a few tips from a road warrior:

Before You Decide to Go

I would not be surprised if you are considering Ukraine as an outsourcing destination: Ukrainian IT and R&D specialists have gained plenty of recognition over the recent years. In 2011 Ukraine became the “Outsourcing destination of the Year” and since then consistently have taken the leading spot in the Eastern Europe IT outsourcing market.

Of course the recent political crisis and military activity currently taking place in Ukraine made many businessmen have doubts about outsourcing to this country. Fortunately, these doubts are not well justified, as political turmoil in the country did not affect the IT outsourcing industry to any degree of significance.

While this crisis indeed affected the local population, it it also provided many foreign companies with an opportunity to negotiate better terms, reduced employee turnover, and put offshore providers on their toes.

The opportunity as usual comes with risks though.  Nobody knows how the situation in Ukraine develops over the next few months.   Understanding your own risk tolerance and risk tolerance of your company is critical.  And if you believe that outsourcing to Ukraine remains a great option to consider but you never been there you may want to check it out, as a matter of fact you should. Continue reading