Offshore Freelancers unconvincingly fill the “SME Outsourcing Vacuum”
The trend of offshoring work to freelancers in Third World countries has become a very popular practice in recent years. A whole variety of work can be offshored to freelancers and the success of this practice is evidenced by sites such as elance.com, odesk.com and guru.com.
Offshore freelancing is often a success; companies drastically reduce cost and witness fast turnaround times. Nevertheless, whilst freelancing is suitable for short term, low budget projects, freelancing unconvincingly fills the SME (small to medium enterprise) outsourcing vacuum.
What is the SME outsourcing vacuum?
In brief, the SME outsourcing vacuum is a term devised to signify the fact that whilst SMEs (small to medium sized firms) can offshore work to a freelancer they cannot offshore work to and hire full time, permanent employees. Why? Unlike multinational corporations, SMEs do not have the resources available to open offshore subsidiary offices in Third World countries and hire full time employees.
How is this outsourcing void being overcome?
Contracting with a freelancer for a short term, low budget project makes good business sense. However, SMEs have resorted to also hiring freelancers for long term positions because they have no other alternative method of hiring offshore resources on a long term basis.
To sum up, the SME outsourcing vacuum arises because there is a demand from SMEs to hire full time, offshore dedicated employees but no method present by which this can be achieved. And whilst freelancing can often be a cost effective and a productive move for short term projects, listed below are several reasons why freelancers are inadequate for full time, permanent positions and unconvincingly fill this “SME outsourcing vacuum”.
It goes without saying that when employing a full time employee, a structured professional setup is necessary. Accountability and an authoritative hierarchy is not possible with a freelancer who is situated thousands of miles away, working unsupervised as a full time employee. A client would have little control or at least struggle to enforce it. Inevitably, this will impact the level of professionalism. Common problems associated with freelancers are a lack of availability, unsatisfactory completion of work and missed deadlines. This occurs because a freelancer cannot be held accountable for their work as there is no legal contract in place and they are working alone in a foreign country.
To offshore your work you may also have to offshore your sensitive data. Offshoring sensitive information to a freelancer is a highly risky process as there are no contracts or any supervising authority to safeguard the data.
Offshore to a Third World country hardware?
An offshore freelancer, working remotely, needs to be equipped with adequate hardware to function effectively. However, a freelancer many not possess the sufficient and necessary technology to successfully work remotely. And, obviously, it is not possible to offshore hardware across to the freelancer.
Offshore to a Third World country infrastructure?
The infrastructure in Third World countries can be poor. In particular, electricity and internet failure is common. Will an offshore freelancer be able to overcome such obstacles and work with and for you remotely in an effective manner? If the sufficient infrastructure is lacking, it is impossible to work with an offshore freelancer remotely.
With a freelancer there is no contract in place and so there are no provisions that protect your ownership of works and intellectual property rights.
Collaboration is the key for full-time employees
To work remotely in an effective manner, collaboration is the key. Poor infrastructure and inadequate hardware makes close collaboration with a freelancer difficult. In addition to this, freelancers work with multiple clients simultaneously and so a freelancer may not be able to collaborate as and when required. Furthermore, there is no physical authority in place to ensure the freelancer works in the manner they are supposed to.
Psychological aspect of working from home
Working from home, unsupervised with a client thousands of miles away does not have the same psychological impact as working from a supervised office. Freelancers can become complacent and feel comfortable in the knowledge that the client has no legal remedy because there is no signed contract as such. And the huge geographical distances between the two makes it even easier. There are no guarantees to ensure that a freelancer doesn’t leave a project half complete as soon as a more financially rewarding opportunity presents itself or even actually works the hours they are supposed to.
Once more, the absence of a contract or a physically present supervising body means the client can never be assured of the dedication of a freelancer. It is widely known that freelancers from Third World countries take on more projects than they can realistically handle. If a freelancer is over burdened and working with other clients at the same time, your work is unlikely to get the priority and attention it deserves.
With the offshore freelancer working from a foreign country, working hours between the freelancer and his client often clash. Will the freelancer be able to work the same hours as the employer?
Making payments to an offshore freelancer does entail a certain degree of risk. Can you trust the freelancer with your money?
The Solution: How Virtual Employees now meet the SME Outsourcing demand
The latest development in the outsourcing industry is the concept of the Virtual Employee. A Virtual Employee in every respect is a full time, permanent and dedicated employee. A Virtual Employee is a dedicated employee because he or she works only with one client and works a complete 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Furthermore, a VE works directly with their client, they are continuously in dialogue with their client and always available to communicate and collaborate when required. In short, a Virtual Employee works just like any locally hired employee, albeit remotely.
Unlike with freelancers, problems regarding professionalism, accountability and supervision are never issues when hiring a VE. This is because although a Virtual Employee works remotely like a freelancer, a VE does not work from home. Rather, a Virtual Employee works from VirtualEmployee.com’s first-class office, (equipped with the latest hardware and infrastructure) where they are monitored and managed at all times by VirtualEmployee.com’s managers.
In summary, the Virtual Employee meets the SME outsourcing demand, because when clients hire a VE, they actually hire a full time, dedicated employee. Furthermore, their VE is managed from a professionally administered office. In essence, SMEs finally have a solution they have always required because VirtualEmployee.com’s office operates as an extension of the client’s local office, with VirtualEmployee.com’s managers acting as physical representatives of the client in India.