Reinventing the Offshore Model
Date: 16/09/2016

By Carsten Brandt

Introduction

At some point in our lives we have all had some experience with the offshore service model. Maybe it was a service call from your phone company, or an interaction with your credit card support team, or - closer to our business - the consulting team from a larger service integrator for your IT implementation.

It’s safe to assume that the level of service you received ranged from, in most cases, mediocre to abysmal. However, at PMsquare we have been perfecting this approach for years and have re-defined a very successful version of the offshore model that is bucking the trend of sub-standard service.

Background

Offshore outsourcing started as a trend somewhere around the 1970s with U.S. computer manufacturers hiring technical staff from India for service centers for the main purpose of cost savings. The development of the internet, continuous globalization and other factors has further developed this trend into various forms (Offshoring, Outsourcing, hybrid models, etc.) and has grown to include several more countries (China, Mexico, Philippines, etc.). Asia Pacific is still heading up the ranking for offshore services, although Eastern Europe and South America are becoming very competitive..

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Philippines has always been one of the major global outsourcing contenders, but has recently seen an extra boost in the field of Analytics, due to public and private investments (i.e. Launch of Analitika, IBM Innovation Center and Academic Initiative in the Philippines).

Why?

As a Premier IBM Business Partner with a global reach, our mission at PMsquare is to enhance our customers' business by providing analytics solutions with the highest quality of service possible. Our customer support strategy is based upon total customer satisfaction, and we continually strive to exceed customer expectations by offering complete packages of value-adding solutions to meet our customers’ immediate and long-term needs.

PMsquare Teams

Being a service provider we strive to balance quality of service, access to exceptionally skilled consultants, excellence in our client focus and price sensitivity. Especially in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), cost factors are very important. One of our answers to the aforementioned balancing act are small, dedicated and qualified teams that are self-sufficient, have an exceptional client focus and with lean overheads.

Over the last several years we have seen this team-centered approach work very well as an onshore model: with flexible remote services for our clients from our onshore offices and onsite visits when needed in the various project stages. With the opening of additional PMsquare practices in Singapore, the United States and Philippines, combined with the fact that many of our clients deploy our solutions across multiple countries, we had the opportunity to refine our deployment model to what we now call the PMshore methodology.

Business Analytics and Financial Performance Management solutions on a large scale require a great wealth of skills and expertise. We have heard of examples where other service integrators throw a large number of low-cost consultants into a project resource pool, with no one in the team possessing the advanced skills and experience required for a successful enterprise-scale implementation. This approach boasts very low costs, but is based on a flawed model. Without adaptive practices to maximize productivity or standards of expertise to tackle technical obstacles this approach almost always falls victim to unexpected slow-downs, or the need for additional resource allocation. All the while, the once attractive price point of this older model creeps steadily upward. It simply does not work for analytics projects and deployments.

How?

Over the years we have continuously improved and refined our deployment model utilizing our geographically distributed teams. To succeed it requires a well-adjusted combination of variables.

The Right People

Consulting business is a people business and therefore requires people with the right skills, values, approaches and attitudes. Being a niche service provider allows us to be very specific, if not picky, when selecting new team members. The Right Methodology A solution implementation methodology that works for the kind of projects we are delivering with multi-country deployments and a geographically distributed team approach.

The Right Tools

Tools to support the methodology and communication needs of our team, and effectively share with our clients. Starting with basic web conference tools like GoToMeeting or our PMsquare internal Wiki and ranging to an integrated support and project management system like JIRA that we use together with our clients.

The Right Culture

A culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration is then the key to ensure transition of knowledge from core competency teams to new team members in offshore teams and thus allow flexible team compositions on a project-by-project basis based on complexity of the implementation.

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Outcome

Correctly done, this results in the following benefits for our clients:

  • Faster development and deployment cycles due to extended time-frames. I.e. we deployed a TM1 solution in France with one consultant on site for local discussions and requirements and 2 consultants building and developing solutions from ASEAN. Thus providing an almost 24h development cycle with senior consultants and a significantly shortened project time-frame. 
  • Broader coverage of time zones and culture. Having multiple practices allows us to cater for multiple time zones during implementation and support, but also to choose the right cultural fit if crucial and required.
  • And last but not least a significant cost advantage while still guaranteeing the high quality of services and successful solution deliveries for our clients that we stand for at PMsquare.

Conclusion

There is no argument about the benefits of a suitable offshore model, but especially in projects that require high skills and quality of services rather than lots of manpower, it needs a refined model of coupling people, culture, methodology and tools to provide a service model for deployments that combine the advantages of offshoring without jeopardizing the quality of services or even risking the success of a project. 

If you'd like more information on how PMsquare can help you to get more value out of the new way of offshore support utilising the PMshore methodology, please contact me today.

 

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