In this article, we're going to share with you some lessons we’ve learned through client screw-ups, and many of our own screw-ups too. The first lesson wasn’t even a client of ours, they came to us for advice, but it was too late...
Lesson #1: The Classic Train Wreck - A Basket of Problems
Let’s start the ball rolling with the biggest offshoring mess we’ve come across. A manager came to see me a couple of years ago asking for help. He’d recently started working for an Australian accounting firm in their Manila office. The main problems were:
Little to no staff training
Work quality was terrible. There were no systems in place for the staff in Manila or Australia
The office manager sat at her desk all day with headphones on listening to music. She was supposed to manage about 10 staff in the office
The attitude of the staff in the office was poor and the team didn’t really seem to care about their work
The staff weren’t showing up for work on time and there was some absenteeism too
There was high staff turnover. Almost nobody lasted more than a year
Poor document management
Slow turnaround of work
Our suggestion was to close the office and start again, but do it properly the second time around. A couple of months later they got in touch with us to say they had closed the office and that was the end of their journey in the Philippines. What a huge waste of money and time - and all the problems were avoidable had they done it correctly.
Lesson #2: Not Setting Staff up to Succeed
We’ll share with you how we got this wrong in our business and lost one of our own team members. Angelica came to us as an accounting graduate. She was part of a team where the workload is unbearable that caused her to make a lot of errors.
The day Angelica gave us her resignation was the day we realized how bad things were for our team. We had failed as an employer. We didn’t set her up to succeed, and we didn’t intervene when she was clearly overworked. Fortunately, after being gone for about a year, Angelica finally returned to Frontline. This time she’s received a lot of training and support. The lesson here is don’t just put people in a job and expect them to produce miracles for you.
Lessons #3: Several Lessons in One Scenario
If you don’t train the staff, monitor their workflow and get your local team in Australia or the UK on board, your offshoring project is probably going to fail.
Some time back, we sent an email to all the staff and asked them to let me know if their Aussie boss wasn’t giving them enough training or work to do. One of the staff replied telling me she was a CPA with four year’s experience and our client, her boss, had her doing two hours a day of data entry, and that was it. Offshoring cannot work under those circumstances and when it emerged the Australian staff didn’t want to change the way they worked, we all agreed to end the engagement. We redeployed her Filipino staff to other firms.
If you don’t train your staff and monitor their workflow, you will have floundering workers in the Philippines sitting around twiddling their thumbs. You will be wasting your money and they will be wasting their careers.
Lesson #4: No Relationship With Your Team
Some firms have not taken the time to meet their offshore teams. We can tell you firsthand that the morale on those teams is lower. It’s not necessarily a showstopper, but it is healthier if you meet the team face-to-face at some point.
We had a situation once where a client didn’t build a good relationship with his Manila employee. We also struggled to work with him. We ended the engagement and gave the client the choice to take his business to another BPO. The employee knows us and we have a good relationship. She refused to go with her employer and asked to stay at Frontline. Can you see why you need to build a good working relationship with your staff? You can easily lose employees if you don’t.
Lesson #5: Right Team Members in the Right Roles
A couple of years ago, we hired an accountant for one of our clients. She ended up doing a lot of admin work for them rather than accounting. She wasn’t happy, her performance suffered and that meant the client wasn’t happy and wanted to end her employment. We go a long way to ensure people’s careers are protected. The employee joined our team and a couple of years later she is still on my team and doing a great job. Our client replaced her with an admin assistant per our recommendation and she’s done a great job and the client is very happy with her.
All it took was matching the right person to the right job. You should also be acutely aware of what you expect an employee to do and make sure you match their skills and desires with the role you are filling.
Lesson #6: Communication Breakdowns
Most issues arise due to communication problems, and most of those issues are minor things that can needlessly become major if not handled quickly. Our job is to help you with that, and our team are always on the lookout for problems like this.
You have to do your part, too, and make sure you have a good, safe relationship where the staff will be comfortable opening up to you about any hassles they are having.
Hardly any BPO will go to the lengths we do, so make sure you pick a good one then work with them to put out any fires before they become too big to manage.
Where to From Here
If you are ready to be at the forefront of the accounting profession by building an offshore team, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment with our team to get you started.