Local vs. Overseas Outsourced Technical Support
Thanks to dramatic improvements in remote IT capabilities, today's businesses can choose between onshore and offshore support. While many businesses view the decision as a matter of cost, domestic and international IT teams involve many other factors, from indirect costs to scalability.
Each option comes with its pros and cons, and choosing the right one for your company requires thorough consideration of their characteristics and your needs.
Approaches to Outsourcing: Local and Overseas
Both local and overseas outsourcing offer many advantages for companies, from adapting to changing business demands to reducing operating costs and improving the quality of your IT team. Outsourcing business processes like tech support can also help you gain access to a large pool of diversely skilled workers and modern equipment. Whatever reason you have for outsourcing, choosing a domestic or international provider might help you meet your goals more effectively.
Either option can take many forms. You could have a highly integrated team that works as an extension of your business, or you could have a relatively hands-off team helping with minor tasks. While offshore or onshore options might lend themselves best to certain approaches, IT service providers offer various options. Many factors depend on the individual business process outsourcer (BPO).
Domestic Outsourcing Pros and Cons
Domestic outsourcing, also called onshore or local outsourcing, involves hiring a team in your country. Although this approach is often more expensive, you typically see increased quality in several business areas, like communication and infrastructure.
Organizations that opt for domestic IT outsourcing often have significant regulation or security requirements, like those in the financing or healthcare fields. Others, such as luxury service providers, might turn to local outsourced technical support to provide a top-notch experience for customer-facing assistance.
Some of the benefits of onshore outsourcing include:
- Easy communications: Since domestic workers perform onshore tech support, you typically have no language barriers or cultural obstacles that could lead to miscommunications or frustration.
- Simpler security and infrastructure: Navigating cross-border security demands and IT infrastructure can be complex, and an onshore team limits those difficulties. Domestic IT support teams are likely familiar with general security demands for your country and can help you set up reliable systems.
- Improved collaboration: Drastically different time zones — like the 12-hour difference between the United States and India — often increase the challenge of working with your IT team. Domestic support teams are usually only a few hours apart at most, so you can easily work together during normal business hours. A nearby provider could be particularly valuable if you want a team heavily integrated into your business or have a complex project in mind.
- Strong compliance knowledge: Both companies work under the same or similar legislative and regulatory requirements, so everyone is on the same page to ensure compliance. You can also avoid the complexity of storing data in other countries if you outsource that service.
Although these benefits often lead to increased quality, they do come with some drawbacks, such as:
- Higher costs: Depending on your country, staying onshore could be more expensive due to higher wages in your region. For instance, lower wages in countries like India and the Phillippines invite offshoring by providing savings over service costs for technical support in the United States. Still, onshore outsourcing is typically more affordable than building a team in-house.
- Limited multilingual support: Some smaller providers might not have multilingual staff members on hand. These services are less common in domestic companies, but some global providers offer highly diverse multilingual support.
- 24-hour service: Domestic providers might be less likely to offer 24-hour service. International outsourcing companies can more easily leverage significant time differences to cover evening and overnight shifts for customers on the other side of the globe.
Offshore Outsourcing Pros and Cons
With offshore IT services, you hire a company from another country. Many businesses outsource to companies in developing nations to leverage lower service costs, but those savings can come with other challenges, like language barriers and security concerns. Still, organizations with relatively simple but high-volume demands often turn to international IT support providers.
Below are some of the benefits of offshore outsourcing:
- Cost savings: With lower service costs, overseas IT support often provides an affordable option.
- Potential tax benefits: Some countries offer advantageous tax laws, further increasing the profitability of offshoring IT support.
- Easier access to 24-hour services: With significant time differences, international providers might offer more round-the-clock support.
- Business-friendly regulations: Some countries make business activities easier with more lax regulations, which could offer benefits over those of your own country.
Despite these advantages, offshore IT outsourcing has a few cons, such as:
- Problems with language and culture differences: Unsurprisingly, language differences can cause friction and misunderstandings. Culture clashes may also cause problems. Language differences in customer-facing support can be particularly challenging in some industries.
- Security challenges: Depending on your needs, large distances sometimes increase the challenges of achieving high security and compliance. Overseas workers may be unfamiliar with certain compliance requirements, and setting up proper infrastructure can be difficult.
- Time zone challenges and limited communication: Working with people in drastically different time zones can limit your ability to collaborate effectively. You may need someone with 24-hour availability or a closer time zone for more complex IT demands.
Local vs. Overseas Tech Support
The right choice for your company depends on many factors and the unique characteristics of each option. As you compare, consider these areas where local and overseas technical support can differ:
Cost is one of the most prominent differences between domestic and international IT support, but be careful not to overvalue the direct costs. Although the price of services might be lower for technical support overseas, you could pay more for indirect costs such as efficiency problems and security risks.
For example, if you use an overseas provider with lax security standards and experience a data breach, you'll have costs related to fines, potential legal trouble, remediation and lost sales due to reputational damage. Language barriers could also make activities like tech support more difficult and inefficient, ultimately reducing their return on investment (ROI). Still, many global IT providers address these concerns with a high-quality workforce and policies oriented to Western business demands, enabling you to leverage savings confidently.
Of course, quality issues can happen domestically as well. The lesson is to look closely at your providers and consider expenses beyond the direct costs. Similarly, one provider might help you save through indirect costs, such as helping you get to market faster, save on taxes or access more efficient IT processes. If you need 24/7 services, a global provider might offer them at lower costs too.
Language and Culture
The language barrier is a common concern for international outsourcing. If the support staff doesn't speak English well, employees might struggle to understand them, leading to miscommunications and frustration. Cultural differences can also affect IT support, impacting conversational habits and interpretations of politeness. For instance, someone from a more direct-speaking culture might feel like someone with a less direct speaking style is wasting time.
This example reflects low-context and high-context cultures, respectively. Some cultural awareness training covers this topic. While a quality offshore team understands these differences, you may also want to consider providing cultural communication training to your personnel.
Your provider's staffing habits will affect language and cultural barriers, especially if you have a diverse workforce. To minimize problems, look for a company with multilingual support options and excellent communication training.
Quality and Efficiency
High-quality services can come from anywhere, but overseas providers often have many more barriers to offering them. They must:
- Work from drastically different time zones.
- Meet unfamiliar international regulations and standards.
- Break through language and cultural barriers.
- Hire workers with appropriate education levels.
- Provide sufficient infrastructure to long-distance clients.
Domestic providers have fewer challenges to overcome, often resulting in higher service quality. Quality varies significantly between different companies, but the simplicity of a nearby business makes it easier to find domestically.
Basic security and privacy are crucial for all outsourced IT support services, and this aspect will also come down to individual companies. Domestic outsourcing often provides higher security because of the team's close proximity and familiarity with your region's laws and regulatory demands.
Outsourced IT service providers contend with these challenges, and you may have additional requirements to meet if you store data in another country. These could include federal laws, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, or individual state policies in the U.S. Industry regulations, such as SOC-2 and Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, may also advise onshore storage for increased control.
The reduced complexity and shared knowledge of a local team could make it easier to meet risk management demands.
What to Consider When Choosing Local vs. Overseas Outsourcing
Each business is unique, so keep your needs and goals in mind when determining whether to use onshore vs. offshore outsourcing. Some areas to investigate include:
- Your goals: What is your company's current goal? Some missions align better with one type of service provider. For example, if you plan to grow your team into a cross-country workforce, a global partner offering multilingual support and 24-hour flexibility might be more beneficial.
- Your system's complexity: If you have a particularly complex IT system, you may need an onshore provider's strong infrastructure and collaboration. Simple tech demands often fit well with offshore providers and their lower costs.
- Your project plans: Are you looking to implement large-scale projects like digital transformation or offer a help desk for basic employee troubleshooting? A local company's collaboration capabilities could be helpful for more complex projects, or you may prefer the cost savings and scalability of an offshore team for ongoing work.
- Your security requirements: Businesses in highly regulated industries like health care or finance often benefit from security experts in the same country. Offshored IT is likely ample for businesses with average security demands, like e-commerce or hospitality.
- Your budget: Of course, you need a partner that fits your budget. Consider indirect costs, and ask about the company's pricing structure. Some offer services based on the number of devices, users or tickets, so find one that makes sense for your system. Monitoring requirements and one-time expenses, such as implementation and equipment, will also affect your cost.
Closely investigate your company's position and how local and foreign outsourcing providers can help. You may opt for an onshore provider if you want strong collaboration, high security, specialized support, high quality, and fewer language or cultural barriers. More complex projects and extensive compliance requirements may also fit well with onshore options.
Offshore outsourcing is often best for companies looking to save costs and create scalability. Going international is a good choice for straightforward or repetitive tasks and businesses that don't have strict risk mitigation needs.
One other option to consider is nearshoring. Nearshoring is technically a type of offshoring performed in a nearby country. For instance, a U.S. company might partner with a provider in Mexico or Canada. The support team is likely more familiar with U.S. culture, and you can minimize time zone differences. It's a good in-between option if you aren't sure about onshoring or offshoring.
Finding the Right Outsourcing Partner
Even when you choose a type of outsourcing, you might find significant differences between individual companies. Some offshore providers, for instance, offer exceptional quality, while some onshore providers meet 24-hour service needs. The right partner can help you offset the drawbacks usually associated with each option.
With each potential partner, look into aspects like:
- Reputation: Find a company with a long history of success and plenty of satisfied customers. Look for testimonials, reviews on third-party websites, case studies and other examples of high-quality work. Keep an eye out for any comments that address your concerns.
- Industry and skill specialties: A partner with special skills in your industry or an IT area could be particularly helpful. They might know how to navigate unique requirements, such as certain security technologies or industry-specific regulations.
- Language capabilities: Consider how the company addresses language differences. Does it have a multilingual team and provide evidence of employee and customer satisfaction?
- Service selection: Make sure the business offers all IT services you need, such as help desk support, managed IT, consulting, monitoring and device management. Keep your future needs in mind, and ensure your partner can adapt to your evolving business.
- Channels offered: How can you contact your provider? Phone calls may be limiting and frustrating if you have a language barrier. See if the company offers options like live chat and omnichannel methods.
- Qualifications: Industry certifications like SOC-2, PCI and ISO 9001 can attest to a company's ability to meet strict requirements and best practices. A well-trained team with advanced degrees and thorough training is also ideal.
Contact a BPO Specialist Today
Both domestic and foreign outsourcing can help you meet business goals like growth and time savings while avoiding the high costs of an in-house team. Each company is unique, so you'll need to consider the elements we've discussed to find the best fit.
When you're ready to outsource your technical business processes, trust the experts at CGS. We have a vast selection of services for onshore, offshore and nearshore technical support — all backed by a multilingual team that speaks over 25 languages. We have remote agents and support centers in the U.S., Canada, Chile, India, Romania, Israel and South Africa. With various industry certifications, premium technology and several awards for our outsourcing services, CGS is a one-stop shop for businesses across industries.
Reach out to our team today to chat about our outsourced IT support services and which option is right for you!