Go Global With a Virtual Workforce

by Jerry Hobby on March 4, 2008

Major companies have been using offshore resources for software development and product manufacturing for a long time.  Over the years, more and more companies are finding ways to use offshore resources.  Offshore services have expanded far beyond software development and manufacturing.  In fact, offshore services have expanded to include every imaginable task.
The greatest advantage is that you only pay for the hours required to do your job and the hourly rate tends to range from $3 per hour to $15 per hour depending on skill and location.   Your staff can grow and shrink as necessary and that gives you massive scalability and huge cost savings.
What’s Possible

  • Manufacturing – You can arrange to have your products manufactured offshore or you can simply purchase generic goods and have your brand placed on the products. You can start virtually any type of business quickly by buying and reselling virtually any product.
  • Software Development – Most companies do not need fulltime software developers. In fact, most companies only need a little bit of work here and there. That may include having a spreadsheet designed, a website built, or a graphical banner created. It is actually quite easy to have these small tasks done overseas and surprisingly affordable. Overseas technical staff can handle projects of any size from very small to very large.
  • Virtual Assistants – This brand new service is catching on like crazy. You can hire a virtual assistant at an hourly rate to do virtually anything for you. Maybe you need someone to screen your emails, manage your time, or to handle things like making reservations and ordering flowers. Perhaps you want someone to do data entry, type up your voice memos, or plan an event for you. Every imaginable service is available. You are limited only by your imagination. One of the most common uses of VA’s is research. Let them go down the rabbit holes for you. Use your own time to do what you are best at. Many virtual assistants are trained specifically for this job. There are many resources available to persons wishing to work as a virtual assistant.

Where are These People
There is a buzz about China and India and practically everyone has heard of those countries with regards to outsourcing.  The truth is that there are people around the world who will compete for your services.  The interesting part is that even people in the US will bid competitively for your business.  In addition to India and China, I’ve hired staff from Romania, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Brazil, the UK, and several other countries.  I’m currently hiring in Panama.  I’ve learned by experience that each country has its own strengths and it’s best to choose people that fit your own personality.
Working with an International Staff
You will have to decide whether to work with large companies, small companies, or individuals. 
You will have to learn to manage your team in new ways.  Email is popular, but what happens if they do not answer your email?  You need an escalation process  to deal with issues.
You will have to learn to deal with language barriers.
You will have to learn to deal with time zone issues.
How to Get Started
There are several places on the Internet to help you get started.  Your starting point depends on what you are looking for.  I have a few recommendations for you depending on what you are looking for.
www.eLance.com – The most popular website for hiring contract talent from around the world.  Buyers will describe a project and buyers will bid on the work.  Carefully choose from the many bids and you will have someone working for you quickly.  The process is simple.  The hard part is choosing.   Most providers do acceptable or better work.   If you project fails, hire someone else and try again.   The alternative is to hire someone in the US that has experience managing offshore talent.  Then you have the advantage of a US contact and you will still benefit from the cost savings.   Anything Internet can help you with these services.
www.Alibaba.com – Alibaba is the number one online marketplace for global and domestic China trade.  They provide a platform for small and medium sized buyers and suppliers from around the world with a focus on international import and export.
www.GetFriday.com – We recently discovered this firm and are testing it now.  We recommend it because it has lower costs than most and they provide a pool of resources.  Therefore, if your primary assistant is not skilled for a particular request, they will assign someone else to handle that task.

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