So, you have been facing certain pain points with your in-house digital marketing needs. You are considering outsourcing to offshore agencies in India.
You could be facing problems like,
- Talent crunches
- High hiring and onboarding costs
- Missed deadlines
- Lack of time on your hands to focus on core business activities
- Scarcity of fresh ideas & perspectives when meeting client demands
- Unhappy clients!
Phew! Now, that’s something no agency owner would like to face.
At Mavlers, we have 12+ years of experience helping businesses like yours partner with an offshore agency.
As you go through the blog, you will find answers to questions like:
- Why should I choose India for outsourcing my digital marketing needs?
- What are the pros and cons of partnering with offshore outsourcing agencies in India?
- What are the best practices to follow when outsourcing to Indian agencies?
Without further ado, let’s get started.
What makes India a good choice for outsourcing my digital services needs?
Let’s get down to some number crunching before we get to the meat and potatoes of this subsection.
- According to A.T. Kearney’s 2019 Global Services Location Index, India has held the top spot for outsourcing since 2017.
- A Deloitte study has revealed that 59% of businesses are already outsourcing their non-core processes to India. Another 22% plan to do so in the near future.
An insight into the companies already outsourcing and those planning to outsource
The numbers speak for themselves, and the reasons behind such staggering popularity are as follows:
1. Reduced chances of communication barriers between client & offshore agency:
Interestingly, India is the second largest English-speaking nation in the world, just behind the USA. With over 100 million non-native speakers fluent in English, you can be assured of fewer glitches because of miscommunication.
2. An ever-growing pool of skilled professionals
India is home to some of the best brains in the world who undergo rigorous training and practical knowledge-building in some of the world’s most renowned academic institutions. Over 3.1 million graduates, 300,000 postgraduates, and 500,000 engineering graduates walk through the gates of Indian colleges and universities annually.
Also, the number of software developers in India is set to outnumber their counterparts in the USA by 2023.
40% of the Indian IT workforce is expected to increase their knowledge of the latest tech stack in the coming four years. You can be assured that you will outsource your tasks to some of the finest and sharpest minds in the global talent pool.
3. Reduced time to market and on-time work completion
Now, this is something you, as an agency/business owner, would never want to compromise on! Some Indian offshore agencies might work around the clock with a “follow the Sun” mindset, ensuring quicker TATs and round-the-clock availability.
When you settle in for another work day in your time zone, the deliverables sent by Indian professionals will be ready for your perusal.
4. Favorable Government policies
Outsourcing to nations where the legalities seem confusing and binding can be a nightmare for agencies like yours. Thankfully, the Indian government provides for hassle-free IT transactions and protects the interests of both parties. Some of these legal provisions are:
- IT Act 2000
- Indian Contract Act 1872
- Foreign Exchange Regulations
- Special Relief Act 1963 (SRA)
- Companies Act 2013
- A rich repertoire of Intellectual Property laws
Check out the pros at a glance!
Interesting! So, what are the cons of partnering with Indian offshore digital marketing agencies?
Here are the commonly experienced and perceived cons of partnering with Indian-origin offshore outsourcing companies.
1. Time zone differences
Many clients are wary of partnering with Indian offshore agencies simply because they fear the workflow will not be smooth because of the time zone differences. While this can be true if you outsource to any far-off location, it can be countered if the agency of your choice offers agile development and round-the-clock support so that your deliverables and targets are met on time. Good communication and project management tools also help alleviate this fear.
2. Cultural misalignment
While this can be a legit concern of agencies looking to preserve their regional brand flavor and tonality, it makes sense to either test out Indian agencies before signing up with them, send them training resources to help them understand your culture better, or it might just make more sense to reach out to local vendors who are more in line with your cultural requirements.
3. Theft of Intellectual property
Many Western countries harbor this fear because China has earned quite a reputation for being the leader in developing pirated software. Thus, they feel that their intellectual property is at risk when outsourcing to Asian developing countries. However, this can be overcome by looking for NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) and NSAs (Non-Solicitation Agreements) before signing service contracts with your prospective offshore agency.
Here are some cons that might present themselves!
What are the best practices when outsourcing my digital marketing requirements to Indian agencies?
Now that you know the pros and cons of outsourcing your requirements to Indian offshore agencies, knowing how to get the best out of your outsourcing journey with minimum hassles and maximum productivity is important. The following pointers will help you crack the nut;
1. Maintaining clear communication from the beginning to the end of the project
While collaborating with our Subject Matter Expert, the top pointer he repetitively specified was maintaining good, clear, active, and well-documented communication, resulting in lower expectation mismatch and higher productivity.
For everyone to be on the same page since the first call, the prospective agency needs to pose the right questions to your point of contact (POC) so they can slip into your “shoes” and understand your pain points.
Please ensure that your POC has the requisite knowledge and a clear understanding of the problem, expected solution, timeframe, regular updates schedule, and well-documented collaboration plan.
It also helps if your fluency in the common language matches that of the agency’s representative. This seemingly simple yet super important step can be the difference between seamless results and unmet KPIs. Now, you don’t want your message to be lost in translation simply because of language/communication barriers, do you?
At this juncture, you might be wondering if there are ways to solve initial communication gaps during the middle of the journey and if it affects the results. We held an interview with our customer-facing expert, and this is what he had to say,
“Well, yes! Expectation mismatch and delayed project delivery happens because of certain communication gaps in the process, affecting the end result. The reasons could be varied, such as accent mismatch, glitches at the client or agency end, etc. However, the important thing here is to accept the mistake honestly and take measures to press the “reset button” by bringing all the stakeholders on a call, showing them exactly what was done or wasn’t, and coming up with an actionable plan to fix the errors. This can be avoided by:
- Keeping the client informed about the project’s progress on a suitable project management tool
- Getting on recurring weekly feedback calls
- Maintaining an email record
2. Prepare a clear & precise project brief
Having a clear understanding of the pain points that you want to solve through offshore outsourcing helps. It makes sense to pen down your KPIs, goals, and expected deliverables to present these to the project manager in your prospective offshore agency.
This simple step can help establish transparency and honest communication. This will help track progress towards the expected milestones in your journey with an offshore marketing agency.
To ensure that your chosen agency gets to dive deep into your pain points and project requirements, see the quality of the probing questions they ask. This will be indicative of the level of interest or commitment that they have towards solving your problems.
3. Invest in good communication tools and project management software
When you make an effort to invest in the right communication and project management tools, you save yourself lost manhours and errors arising on account of miscommunication or unclear deadlines.
Though there is a plethora of tools in the market, we suggest the following,
- For project management: Asana, ClickUp, Jira, Azure
- For effective communication: GMeet, Slack, Zoom (we also recommend keeping a record on email)
- For performance & time monitoring: Zoho, Time Doctor
A green flag to look out for in a prospective offshore agency is their willingness to adapt to your tool stack!
4. Ensure that you are billed for the hours invested.
As an agency owner, the one worry that might constantly plague you is if you are being tricked into paying more than what is required to accomplish a particular task. To ensure the offshore agency is true to its word and bills you only for hours invested, check with them on the tools they deploy to track real-time productivity.
Also, see if they are open to installing time tracking tools of your choice. This can indicate a good offshore agency with nothing to hide.
5. Look out for client testimonials and case studies.
Another confidence- and trust-building measure you can take in your research phase is looking for reliable reviews, client testimonials, and case studies pointing towards the quality of work the shortlisted agencies do.
When you see a case study from an offshore agency showing their solution to a problem similar to the one that you are currently facing, they might likely be a good fit for you!
Reach out to clients who have previously worked with a specific agency you might be eyeing and listen to their side of the story. All these measures will help you make the right decision and systematically achieve your outsourcing goals.
6. Allow for a suitable buffer period.
It makes sense to allow for a suitable buffer period between the first call with the sales team and the delivery of the expected outcome. The proposal made by the agency should reflect the expected time period required to achieve the outcomes. It should preferably be documented over email.
This figure may vary from service to service and allows setting up the right expectations and quick delivery with minimal to and fros. The agency should prioritize your requirements and timelines instead of pushing their own timelines on you!
You should also ask the agency how long it will take to start the project. You might want to hit the ground running, but the agency might follow its own timelines and procedures.
7. Be very clear on the escalation process & team structure.
Another valid concern agencies looking to outsource may have is when and whom to contact in case they are unhappy with the proceedings or the timelines/quality of deliverables.
We recommend asking this extremely important question in the kickoff call at the beginning so that you know exactly whom to reach out to in case the need for escalation arises.
To avoid such issues in the first place, you can implement the following measures,
- Invest in a good project management tool that clearly outlines the deadline for each deliverable or task, and the respective stakeholders should get regular updates.
- Maintain clear and honest communication with all the stakeholders from the start of the project, letting them know about any anticipated delays so that requisite measures can be taken in advance. If all of this fails, know the escalation team’s structure and how to address the issue.
Ideally, an escalation team should have the account manager, project coordinator, and their respective team leads on board. If the issues are because of technical inconsistencies, those responsible at the ground level may also be included.
TLDR?! Check out the quick reference resource below!
What are the best practices to remember while hiring an offshore dedicated team?
It is important to know exactly what you need and the right engagement model for your needs.
If you feel that you need a dedicated offshore team to supplement your in-house resources, then these are the best practices to keep in mind to ensure higher productivity;
1. Select the company and talent that suits your values and needs best
Ensure that the company culture aligns with the culture at your place and are flexible in adapting to your needs and processes.
Observe their readiness to solve problems, good fluency with the language you intend to use, and flexibility in their service contracts. Everybody wants an easy entry and an equally easy exit. Look out for red flags in the service agreement, like lock-in periods, etc., before you sign across the dotted line!
Their previous work and client testimonials can also help clear many cobwebs. Another red flag to watch out for is inconsistency in commitment, and if they like to answer in grey shades instead of a clear yes or a resounding no, you might be signing up for trouble!
2. Implement the right onboarding and knowledge transfer measures
If you need to onboard a whole new team, ensure you have a clear, well-documented process to walk them through your processes and how you get things done. Also, ensure that the knowledge transfer process is simple and hassle-free.
3. Take regular feedback and give them direction
A clear learning chart and regular feedback calls can help the new team members feel more comfortable and productive.
4. Make an effort to make them feel included in your team
Ensure you maintain empathy and truly care about the team members’ well-being. These simple endeavors can foster a sense of well-being, making them feel at home and equally important. Mutual respect and team bonding measures can also work their magic in helping the new team members thrive and perform better.
So what’s next?
Now, that’s a whole lot of information to process! We hope we have successfully answered all your questions regarding the best practices to consider and implement before you outsource your requirements to an Indian offshore agency. If you are still in two minds about what to outsource and what not to, you could check out our detailed blog here!