Monday, February 22, 2010

Onshoring needs supporting too

There is a big push around onshoring - the term applied to pushing out parts of your business operations to locations that are often considered more cost effective, while avoiding the difficulties of locating services overseas. The McKinsey quarterly targets onshoring in the following way:
The advantages of staying onshore are greatest for a company with products that are not labor intensive, have short life cycles and high obsolescence costs, and target very time-sensitive customers.
The reality of onshoring is that it needs the same level of technology support, if not more, as offshoring operations. Of course, there is not the complexity of dealing with the local cultures and politics of a far off nation to deal with, but as McKinsey puts it, the benefit of onshore comes with time-sensitive customers. Only if you can ensure the premium customer service reps, the expert technical support staff or the fashion designers have all the information to hand that they need, and can communicate effectively with the rest of the company, can you ensure that your onshore operations will deliver the real-time, local timezone value that you are aiming for.

One big complexity for organizations is not in sharing their customer data (CRM is normally available) or communicating in an ad-hoc manner (email and phones are pervasive). The issues come typically from assigning work, handling and tracking correspondence received in disparate locations, sharing documents, and keeping visibility of performance. Without some form of work management, business process management, document management, collaboration or case management, it is virtually impossible to ensure that the remote locations (potentially multiple onshore offices and your HQ) are sharing information and tracking work effectively.

Any one solution is not necessarily the right way to go, but it should be a relatively easy task for a business improvement specialist to look at an organization and identify how improvements can be made, both in process and technology. Attempting to use people with only an internal world-view may limit the options presented, just due to the obvious risk that comes with going against the status quo. At the same time, you shouldn't always need a team of McKinsey consultants to tell you that an office in another state needs to communicate with your HQ through a series of fairly easy to identify, and implement ways.

A post from the Improving It blog

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