Over the years, as the outsourcing industry has matured, many aspects of the outsourcing model have been improved upon. Despite this fact, countless offshore outsourced projects still fail every year--often due to the fact that project management lacks the proper training on outsourcing methods. Studies show that this is one of the major reasons that outsourced project failures occur, yet it is an aspect of outsourcing that is still oftentimes ignored when considering this model.
Project management needs to be trained in order to deal with the myriad of problems that arise when the workforce is in a different country and a different time zone. The project managers must learn to understand cultural differences and how to communicate effectively, as well as how to leverage the time differences, obtain status updates in a timely fashion, and set realistic expectations for their outsourced workforce. These are all critical skills in an outsourcing environment.
The project management team must also understand the importance of effective communication, both locally and globally. On a local level, employees need to be briefed on the importance of outsourcing to the company as a whole. An attitude of respect toward the outsourced teams must be instilled, or else the local employees may come to see the outsourced team as an appendage or, worse yet, a threat. On the global level, productivity drops due to communication overheads or confusion over status can cause many projects to fail. Again, effective communication is the key to successfully dealing with the challenges created by time difference and distance.
Despite the many challenges, leveraging outsourcing remains a smart business strategy. Training project management on outsourcing alone may not be sufficient to make it work. It is definitely a good foundation.