What will I offshore first? The secret to long term success.

Jamie BeresfordProcess Improvement, Uncategorized

Allow me to let you in on a secret known by all the successful businesses offshore. The secret to achieving success offshore comes down to offshoring tasks, not roles, during the first few months.

The objective of any offshore strategy is to achieve a strong return on investment. To help your team become more efficient by saving time and refocusing energies on growth and/or profit driven tasks.

But where do you start?

Take a close look at your organisation… can you identify where the ‘time sinks’ in your team’s day are occurring? Or in other words, what are the low level tasks, completed every day, that are currently stealing your team’s time away from focusing on higher level strategic tasks?  The kind that drive profit, growth and customer satisfaction?

To know if a task is ‘ripe’ for offshore, we usually sanity test it against the following 5 criteria:

  1. Will it return value to your onshore team?
  2. Does it have a high level of familiarity to your onshore team?
  3. Does it have volume?
  4. Does it require low discretion or decision making to complete?
  5. Does it require few staff involvement?

In order to go one step deeper, to determine exactly what is filling your team’s day so that you can start to separate the tasks for offshore, we often recommend teams conduct a ‘Time and Motion’ study or T&M (Mr Google has a lot of info on this). If you are not familiar with the T&M concept, it works by:

  • Breaking a job down into elements/tasks.
  • Establishing the ‘standard job’ method or in other words, a uniform way of performing a task.
  • Calculating the ‘normal’ or average time it takes to complete that task.

The goal of this is to achieve three things –

First, to record exactly how much time is being devoted to each task. Secondly, the one best way to perform it and finally, you’ll be able to pick out the low level tasks that will be easy to train a newcomer offshore. By doing this, you will finally know the answer to the golden question ‘what is the true cost of performing …. XYZ?’ It also gives newcomers a greater level of clarity around their role and responsibilities.

With the above in mind, go ahead and note down all the tasks in your day separating them into three categories (A,B,C).

‘A’ tasks are the relatively simple tasks that does not require input from a high level resource to complete. This group of tasks is going to be the first category you offshore. Not only is it going to buy back some of your valuable time in a day, it’s also going to require less effort from you and your team training the new person offshore to complete that task. The idea of offshoring is to make your life easier – to have more time to devote to profit driven activities, or maybe you just want to get home earlier at night to tuck your kids into bed. Either way, you don’t want to be bogged down with lesson planning and reviewing each day on top of your normal duties.

‘B’ tasks are slightly more complicated tasks that you may offshore next, once you’ve got your ‘offshore wings’ so to speak. Like anything new, there is a learning curve when you start to employ team members outside of Australia. Even if you think you know what to expect, maybe because you’ve got a lot of knowledge on the subject through courses, field trips and business associates who have shared their wisdom. Even with this ‘leg up’ the offshore ladder, you will still experience moments of surprise, confusion, amusement, and even sometimes a bit of fear. Yes fear. It’s a natural part of doing something new and being out of your comfort zone. Once you have A tasks under control, you can look to offshore these B tasks.

The final category is ‘C’ tasks. As a general rule, these tasks will (more often than not) remain onshore. Maybe because they require a certain level of skill, knowledge or level of seniority that isn’t easily replicated.

So what does this all look like now vs. 6 months later? It looks a bit like this…


This is a typical Australian company who has decided to hire offshore. The A tasks are coloured blue, B tasks are orange and C are yellow.

6 months later you’ll notice the high level resources can spend more of their time completing high level tasks. These are the types of activities that generate the most profit or growth for the business.

The big question is – now that you have freed up your time, money and resources – you may be asking yourself ‘what should I do to maximise this opportunity?’ We’ve seen businesses do a variety of things –

Post Offshore Opportunities
  • Many businesses are extending their services by recruiting skillsets that deliver more to clients.
  • Some are focusing their efforts on lowering the cost of their existing process delivery to improve their margins and ultimately their profit.
  • A large number are freeing their onshore team from process or administrative duties not only to drive profits, but for better job satisfaction and retainment. Who wants to do that mundane stuff anyway?
  • For many businesses, engaging dedicated resources in areas that were previously not cost effective is an exciting opportunity. How do you think an increase in social media presence, marketing, CRM database management or list creation might improve the flow of prospects?

Once you’ve identified the tasks, you can create and recruit for roles that centre around those tasks. Furthermore you can start to calculate your ROI (current time cost of task x hourly salary) for better stakeholder reporting and monthly/quarterly/annual reviewing of your offshore venture.


If reaching an ROI in the shortest time possible is high on your priority list, contact us to find out how we can help.