"Future Proofing" the Offshore Captive
Day to day operation of a successful business is all encompassing. Everything from product relevance to quality, as well as customer attraction, support and retention, to workforce capability and motivation ensure our plates are so full that a “we’ll cross future bridges when we get to them” mentality is all too easily adopted.
It seems that now, more than ever, the operating environment is changing so rapidly that even the best laid plans can be severely impacted by the latest technological or sociological disruptor.
However, disruptors always have and always will exist. Continual evaluation of your product offering, customer viewed relevance and workforce capabilities are required.
This 4th article in our series will focus on evaluating the offshore captive/shared services operation, its place within the organization, operating policies and readiness for emerging technologies.
The Purpose of your Offshore Operation
While the initial driver for establishing offshore capabilities is often focused on lower costs of operation in a particular domain, the longer an entity operates in an area the more it recognizes and benefits from other capabilities beyond the scope of the initial operational plan.
Recognizing these opportunities and realizing their benefits will distribute the value and efficacy of your offshore operation across multiple disciplines, reducing its exposure to a single domain’s disruption.
Some of the operational aspects for consideration when planning or evaluating your Shared Services operation should include:
• Skilled labor resources (beyond initial scope of operation)
A financial support focused back office operation utilizing a sustainable finance educated labor pool, has already established a centralized, cost effective operational infrastructure. Expertise in additional areas, for example legal support (document review, research, etc.), can significantly benefit the parent operation. Areas to consider include:
• Allied Health (Nurses, Doctors, Pharmacists. etc.)
• Social Services (Human Resources)
• Technical Support
• Sales and Sales Support
• Business Continuity Planning
Distributing valuable resources/skills across multiple geographies is a proven method of limiting the exposure presented by locating all resources within one location. The time differences between geographies can also be utilized to maximize operational efficiencies by limiting downtime in processing by sharing the workload across time zones. Concepts for consideration include:
• Backup of key resources/processes residing in other locations
• Distribution of workload (follow the sun operations)
• Language capabilities relevant to new markets
• Access to difficult to obtain skills in home labor market
• Operational Designation of the Offshore Operation
Many operations that were initially established as an opportunity to capitalize on the cost benefits of the labor arbitrage model have evolved to provide significantly higher value to the overall organization as the operational efficiencies of process centralization are realized. Further evolution to Centers of Excellence (COE) is not uncommon as absence of corporate distractions and pressures to continually improve have created true best-of-breed policies and practices.
Recently, the remote nature of these operations, combined with well-developed and standardized processes, have proven them as the ideal sandboxes to test out and implement emerging technologies such as RPA/RDA, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. These technologies require solid, replicable standard operating procedures for effective implementation. The very types of policies/processes most offshore operations were designed around. Operating model options include:
• Centralization of processes
• Center of Excellence Model
• Quality Assurance/Process auditing
• Sandbox for emerging tech (RPA, AI, etc.)
Future proofing anything, let alone something a complex as an entire operational facility, is best addressed by expanding the functions and services that it delivers. The rapid development of technology and social communication have created a disruption-rich environment with virtually everything susceptible to, and in many cases experiencing, rapid change.
Providing multiple functions/services will allow entities to diversify the risk of obsolescence.
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