Nearshore IT outsourcing offers the best of offshore and local
By CG Selva Ganesh, VP, CEO South Africa at In2IT Technologies
Outsourcing IT services offshore offers businesses several benefits, including cost savings by taking advantage of lower labour costs in some countries, access to specialised expertise, scalability of IT services, and time zone advantages that can offer 24/7 IT support. However, there may be downsides to offshore outsourcing, including language and cultural barriers, security and compliance concerns, and different quality controls. In addition, the time zone difference, which can be beneficial, can also be a hindrance if the difference is significant, making communication and collaboration more challenging and often resulting in increased turnaround times for requests and longer project timelines. Nearshore outsourcing, where services are outsourced to a neighbouring country or region, can deliver all of the benefits without the drawbacks of going completely offshore.
The trend toward nearshore
Offshore services have become increasingly common, particularly for areas like call centres and IT support, as well as for services like app development and coding. However, while cost saving is the main driving factor, there can be challenges. Language, culture, and time zone differences can all prove problematic when it comes to effective service level delivery, and the cost-saving benefits can be eroded by potential issues with quality, turnaround times and project timelines.
This has driven a growing trend toward nearshore IT services, rather than offshore. In South Africa, rather than outsourcing to South America or Asia, services can be outsourced to neighbouring countries like Botswana and Eswatini, where there is no time zone difference and labour costs are still lower. This enables local companies to get cost-saving benefits without the challenge of delays due to time zone differences.
Keeping it in the country
In the past few years, there has also been a growing trend toward nearshoring within the same country, across provinces, driven by rapidly improving infrastructure and the ability for remote work to become a reality. Nearshore IT services in the country offer the best of both worlds, removing the time zone, cultural and language barriers, which makes communication and collaboration easier and can help to improve response and resolution times as well as shorten project timelines. Localised customer service helps with more efficient problem resolution and increases customer satisfaction and reduces customer attrition.
Aside from this, in-country outsourcing ensures that legal and regulatory compliance requirements, such as data privacy and security standards, will be consistent, and that there will not be any issues with data sovereignty. Services are also easier to manage and monitor, which means that service level agreements and quality control standards can be met more readily. In addition, should in-person meetings or site visits be required, travel is far easier.
A reputable IT partner is key
Having the right IT partner on board is essential for effective nearshore outsourcing because there are a few factors that need to be considered, including both physical and cybersecurity, disaster recovery, business continuity and rigorous processes to ensure compliance. Your nearshore outsourcing IT partner needs to have the technical expertise and proper scripting and documentation, which are critical in ensuring seamless service delivery that is independent of individual people, and methodologies and standardised processes in place that align with international best practices.
In addition, there needs to be a strong customer focus, attention to service delivery excellence, an adaptive approach to embracing new technologies, and attention paid toward entrenching local skills and driving employment opportunities throughout South Africa. The goal is to ensure the seamless provision of IT services and support, which will enable the customer to focus on their strategic initiatives rather than on their IT services and support.