It has happened to all of us. The telephone rings. It is a number that you do not know. But since you are waiting for a call, you pick up; don’t be the plumber, the mechanic or the girl from the travel agency with the budget requested for that to Offshore Outsource Operations Philippines. But, alas, it is not one of those people: it is someone who calls on behalf of a company, usually by phone, to try to convince you that, if you hire what they are about to propose, you will win. Where is that person calling from? How did you get my number? Are you a phone company worker? No: he is a worker for a company subcontracted by that one. That is outsourcing.
Outsourcing, in short, consists of dispensing with an area of the company, saving the money it cost and hiring that same service – at a reasonable price, of course – outside. It also happens with the technicians who come to your house to install the fiber: they work for subcontractors. Or with the computer scientist they send to check your company’s computers; outsourced as well.
What is ‘Offshore Outsourcing’?
In the case of phone calls, they are sometimes made from another country. That is what is known as offshore outsourcing. The advantages of outsourcing these services are, as has been said, economic. The disadvantages, too: The country of origin loses jobs and many of the subcontractors work in more precarious conditions.
One of the sectors in which this offshore outsourcing occurs the most is that of computer science. European or American companies often turn to others in Asian or Latin American countries where the cost of services is much cheaper, with the consequent disadvantage for workers.
Employees in the company’s home country sometimes lose their jobs due to this disguised relocation; those of those where the subcontracted company is, do a job for which they do not charge in line with the benefits they generate.
The Advantages of ‘Outsourcing’
More and more companies are turning to this method to improve their performance. And it is that in addition to the reduction of costs due to the aforementioned offshoring not always of an international nature – outsourcing carries with it a series of associated advantages.
For example, it allows the main company to save investment in innovation, so that it is the subcontractor who focuses on developing this part of the process in a specialized way. In line with this, the outsourced professionals, by dedicating themselves to a more specific activity and the same for several companies, also manage to offer a much more specialized service than a department integrated in the main one can do. In turn, it allows its workers to be more comfortable and improve their productivity without having to be with a thousand open fronts that do not correspond to their main tasks.
And, of course, to all this is added the flexibility it provides. Through outsourcing, the main company can dedicate itself to hiring certain services only in certain periods of time, reducing or increasing them according to its needs. It is no longer necessary to maintain an entire department when it does not always have functions to fulfill, but these end up being developed on demand.
The Disadvantages of ‘Outsourcing’
However, not all that glitters is gold when deciding to use these subcontractors. In general, those who are hardest hit by outsourcing are the workers. Beyond the possible precariousness, those of the subcontractor may come to feel that the final entity for which they carry out their work is too distant from them, reducing their motivation and involvement. For their part, those in the main company may feel that they are being removed from responsibilities that they have assumed for a long time and consider their own. In extreme cases, outsourcing can lead to massive cuts in some companies, causing many people to lose their jobs.
But for the companies themselves there are also certain negative aspects that have to be assessed. For example, that lack of commitment on the part of outsourced workers will affect the results. Likewise, since they are not workers directly linked to the company, it may be that they do not fully grasp its operation, values or claims. And this will not be able to correct them as it is not directly in charge of them.
Finally, the high turnover that characterizes the staff of outsourcing companies, such as customer service and telephony to which we alluded at the beginning, reverts to a lack of professionalization of employees, which reduces the quality of service.