In all the excitement of creating a new offshore team, sometimes the issue of knowledge transfer (AKA training) is overlooked or underestimated in it’s effect on your success. The transfer of knowledge relates to training new team members and ongoing shared learning between staff members. When training is done well, the time investment you make in your new team members is efficient, easily replicated and once the process is established, requires very little ongoing effort.
In the initial months, training should be seen as an investment. We work with over 250 Australian firms and many don’t have a scalable method for training new staff. When someone new comes along, they learn tacitly ‘on the job’ from the people around them. They are in the same office after all, so it’s easy to turn around and quickly ask a colleague a question when you get stuck. But with an offshore team, the geographical distance renders this kind of knowledge transfer grossly inadequate.
Our 3 tips for the greatest impact on training:
1. Keep it small and repeatable
Successful training works best when focusing on a small number of repeatable tasks in the initial months. Identify what tasks are ‘ripe’ for offshore, standardise how these are performed so that you can give clear directions to your new team, then prioritise these for the next few months. A lot of eager business owners are keen to leap frog this step by ‘running before they can walk’. Don’t be tempted to start throwing unplanned pieces of work at your remote team members in the initial months. Stick to your planned processes and focus on quality and pace of work. Then you can set your remote team members incremental weekly goals to achieve.
So what tasks in your business are ‘ripe for offshore’ you may ask? We sanity check those early stage tasks by asking the following questions:
- Is it regularly repeated? To gain a return on the learning investment, the task needs volume.
- Is low discretion required? We try to avoid any tasks that require high level decision making. Stick to low discretion that is easily trainable.
- Are you already competent at it? The task should be well defined in your business where you have a lot of knowledge on the topic. (You wouldn’t start offshore with something you don’t already do well.)
- Are you currently experiencing constraint? It makes sense to ease the pressure by tackling any bottlenecks first.
2. You’ve got to have process
Once you’ve identified the tasks to offshore – build the process around them. Remote team members are generally more vertically skilled and process driven, so they will thrive in a structured environment where ambiguity has been removed.
Start by identifying the steps that need to be achieved to perform the task and then document all the actions that fall under those steps. The key here is to identify your ‘company way’, as individual staff within your team may actually perform each task slightly differently to their counterpart.
If you plan to have more than one or two offshore staff, best practice would be to use a process management platform that would act as a repository for procedure documentation. The one we use, Cross-shore Management Platform, also provides real time visibility into work-in-progress so managers can delegate and track status with confidence. It also provides performance management data for company and individual KPIs to drive quality of output.
3. Record your training
By this we mean capturing your screen with videos. Video ‘how to’s’ are essential for effective training. It’s very difficult for someone to effectively retain large amounts of information in a short period of time. Not only do recordings reduce the time investment on the onshore side, (by having reducing the number of repeat training sessions) but it also provides a self-learning facility for remote team members to refer to as they are executing the delegated tasks.
Also, if you don’t have documented processes, recording training sessions is a great way to build process quickly. Look for a process management tool that can support video, like the Cross-Shore Management Platform. We like this program because rather than just capturing your screen, you can add voiceto give context to what you are showing. It also links tasks together so you get a single pane of glass to visualise processes end to end.
To get more tips on setting up your offshore team, keep reading our blog or to fast track your learning, you can request an Offshore IT Assessment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.