Think outside the box

What do the following companies all have in common?

  • Alibaba
  • Google
  • Manulife
  • WhatsApp
  • Skype

Apart from being extremely successful businesses, they all utilise the practice of outsourcing, which has contributed towards their success as leaders in their industry.

Alibaba outsourced their website development to a U.S. firm as the talent in China was in short supply when Alibaba was just a small internet company – known as China Yellow Pages – when they needed website development services.

Google, a company that prides itself on taking care of its in-house culture and employees, outsources a variety of work to maintain the many projects worked upon.  One of Google’s most successful initiatives is the outsourcing of phone and email support for AdWords.[1]

Manulife – a global insurance company – sees outsourcing as one of many tools to fulfil its growth, business and operational strategies.  Harry Pickett, Manulife’s Chief Technology Officer, attributes much of the company’s success to comprehensive SLA’s (service level agreements) that guarantee performance.[2]

He states “Even though we outsource, it is still our IT department that is accountable to the company for quality service and great performance”.  This is true as even though outsourcing is a decision for the company, it is a balancing act; do you continue giving the department you employed more work, perhaps making them unproductive or do you outsource to the unknown outsourcing company?

It is precisely this ‘unknown’ territory that makes us nervous and often means we keep our work in-house despite the stress levels of the staff.  However, by determining strong governance around SLA’s you will always control the quality of the work that has been outsourced, and thus a relationship is formed with the once unknown outsourced company who are now fundamental to the structure of your business.

I came across an interesting article, headed ‘Pushing the limits of Outsourcing’ conducted by IMB[3], which revealed:

“……. 27% of companies outsource to cut costs, whereas 36% are innovators and 37% are growth-seekers, using outsourcing as one of their tools to optimize their businesses”.[4]

What is very interesting is that if we implemented the same motivational factors into a conveyancing firm I am pretty sure that the heads of departments would look at outsourcing for the same reasons.

These statistics all demonstrate the real benefits that can be achieved through outsourcing, which in my opinion can be tailored and applied to any size and type of business.

So if there is such a strong argument for outsourcing, why are conveyancing firms not adapting their business model to incorporate this practice as a fundamental arm to their business?

As lawyers, we are an extremely cautious profession which can actually be a detriment to our business in this fast-paced industry.  I understand we are heavily regulated, hence why some lawyers err on the side of caution. However, during my own personal experience whilst in practice, not only was I a solicitor – I also had to quickly develop my marketing and business development skills in order to stand out from the crowd. I also gained a sense of business acumen, hence why my career has transitioned from a lawyer to a business-woman.  I look at business structures a lot more now and explore how conveyancing firms can be improved. One thing for certain is that if you want to take control of all the elements of a business, then surely that is a recipe for imminent failure – is it not?

Some of the greatest micro-managers include highly successful and influential figures – one of the most famous being Walt Disney; “When he could no longer micromanage, he basically delegated everything except for Disneyland”.[5]

I am sure there are many conveyancing practices that have adopted the same ethics as Walt Disney by delegating responsibilities to trusted heads of departments. However, what happens when you think your business structure is complete, but you still feel the pressure of time delays, complaints and inefficient practices? Is it then the time to try the art of outsourcing?

Outsourcing is definitely the cheaper option for conveyancing firms and as an industry, I am of the opinion that we need to take note of other businesses in the commercial world and see what changes they have made to make their industry more productive.

In summary, if you think outside the box then you’re on track to becoming a strong competitor in our fast-paced conveyancing world. So long as you have strong SLA’s in place, outsourcing proves to be a non-failing business model, as evidenced by some of the leading companies in the world.

So think like Google, WhatsApp, Alibaba etc; they looked outside their box and created channels for greater results. I am sure as an industry we can do the same.

 

[1] https://codeable.io/top-companies-outsourced-development/

[2] http://www-935.ibm.com/services/be/en/c-suite/insights/readings/media/smarter_computing/business_impact_of_outsourcing_a_fact_based_analysis.pdf (page 6)

[3]  http://www-935.ibm.com/services/be/en/it-services/SOE12346-USEN-00.pdf

[4] https://intetics.com/blog/benefits-of-outsourcing-beyond-cutting-costs-2

5 https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2015/septemberoctober/iq/walt-disney-in-the-end-he-wanted-change-how-we-live

 

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