Whenever any discussion around the topic of ‘Outsourcing’ comes in, the first place that naturally comes in your mind is India(or maybe China, Mexico, Ireland and the Philippines). In a recent report, 80% of European and US outsourcing firms listed India as their favourite outsourcing destination.
However, the topic of discussion here is if the time zone difference is really a hurdle or an opportunity for businesses. So, let’s start straight away.
Time zone difference: Outsourcing hurdle or opportunity?
Outsourcing to India or other Asia-Pacific countries, the one factor that comes in the way of most business owners is the time zone difference. This time zone difference has both a positive side and a negative side and it wouldn’t be wise on my part to simply say that no there aren’t any negative effects. However, considering the benefits that time zone difference brings can’t be overlooked.
“Follow the sun” working model comes into play when you outsource your Accounting work to offshore centres located in Asia-Pacific region. The basic rule of this model is that since the Asia-Pacific countries are ahead in time, they start working in the morning while there’s still night in western countries like the UK. This way the outsourcing firm get’s the work done and ready for the onshore team to take up the work, thereby leveraging the time zone difference. This way, you can be ahead in this competitive industry and deliver your clients with quality and on-time service.
However, one major hurdle that businesses have to face is communication and collaboration. The time difference makes it difficult for both the parties to set up an efficient communication channel. This can create gaps and backlogs too since the flow of work is disrupted due to communication barriers. The work gets stuck and isn’t complete until the requirements are met.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, here are a few ways you can overcome these hurdles.
Overcoming time zone differences
The simplest solution to tackling time zone differences is by leveraging the available tools and technologies. In today’s Accounting world, cloud accounting software like Quickbooks, Xero, etc have made sharing of crucial financial data both easy and secure. Incorporating such software can save you the extra effort, make data sharing easy and collaboration with your offshore team pretty quick and easy. Moreover, for end-to-end communication, you can use communication apps like Slack, Skype, etc.
Also, considering the present COVID-19 scenario, video conferencing and meeting apps like Google meet, Zoom ,etc have found its way into every sector and are removing the communication barriers among remote teams. Video meetings further boost the confidence and trust level in both the parties.
Define an overlapping time
While tools and tech can help you alot, still time differences can be an issue since one party can be resting when it’s time for the other party to get to work. Therefore, defining an overlapping time is very crucial. Find and define at least 2-3 hour of overlapping time that is convenient for both parties and they can have their fair-share of daily communication and discuss the day’s whereabouts and plan for the next day.
Incorporate Agile Model
Agile Business Model is a relatively new approach that businesses are adopting. It aims at building flexible organisational capabilities with role mobility and informational transparency as its core.
So, if you have outsourced your accounting needs offshore where time difference can be a hurdle, an agile business model can help you streamline communication and workflow, thereby boosting the overall productivity. Adopting an agile model allows you to allocate resources flexibly as and when needed without disrupting the normal functioning of the business.
Outsourcing as a whole comes with lots of pros and cons and it depends largely on you how you tackle the cons since outsourcing accounting as an accountant can be a great choice, considering the fact that the Accounting industry is evolving fast and practicing Accountants need to keep up with the changing trends. By outsourcing a part of their work, Accountants can ensure that they have both time and resources that can be dedicated towards other core Accounting processes.