Book Review

The ‘Lonely Planet’ of outsourcing to India!

Like it or not, the outsourcing era is here to stay. One can safely say that at present, outsourcing to India is one of the best ways for a company in a developed nation to cut development and maintenance costs, and yet stay on the competitive edge. Already, anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies are outsourcing to India, and according to Forrester Research, the amount of work done in India for US firms is expected to more than double in the coming year.

But despite this popularity, outsourcing to India is definitely not a piece of cake. While the market has matured, telecommunications is much more superior than what it used to be a decade ago and general fluency in English among Indians has improved, challenges still remain.

India is a vast, complex nation, with no two regions alike in the manner of speech, culture, mannerisms, politics, literacy etc. A first-time visitor to this cultural melting pot is usually bombarded with the sheer strangeness of sights, smells and noises. The significant work, social and cultural differences between the Western world and India will overwhelm the visitor from abroad.

In such a scenario, how do the companies know and understand the process of outsourcing and how this works with India?

‘Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage’, a book by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary comes at the right time. It aims to introduce India to the first-timers, the majors players in the Indian service industry, the reasons why one should utilize India as an offshore outsourcing destination and how to go about finding the right local partner to work with.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is a British writer and independent outsourcing consultant based in London. He has worked at a senior level for several leading banking and technology groups and has been involved in managing outsourced relationships in the UK, Singapore and India. He is a regular commentator on India and outsourcing in the European press.

In his book, Kobayashi-Hillary gives valuable advice on who is important, where they are and what they are doing in India. The book will help avoid cultural clashes and smooth over the traumatic transition period once you decide outsourcing to India is the right strategic decision for the company.

As Kobayashi-Hillary himself says, “This is the first book on the market that is designed to help managers from across Europe and the US in their programmes of outsourcing to India as it introduces the country, the major players and also the steps needed to getting a good contract. It is focused completely on India and across the entire spectrum of outsourcing, rather than just IT sourcing alone.”

‘Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage’ is an easy-to-read-and-follow book, which you can read at One Go, as the chapters follow a logical progression of steps required to work with an outsourcing partner in India. Alternatively, you can have this book as a handy guide to India and outsourcing to India and refer to it as when you need to clarify critical points and issues.

The book is divided into three main heads;

  • Introduction to India
  • The Outsourcing Industry in India and
  • How to Organise the Outsourcing Process.

The first section provides the reader with a summarized, yet comprehensive view of India. They include a brief history of the country, contemporary Indian politics, culture and food, travel in India, and also address any security concerns a traveler might have.

The second section deals with the outsourcing drivers like government policies, technology and corporate strategy, the major industry players and the BPO market in India, the ownership models and players, major outsourcing locations, and industry associations and research bodies.

In the third section, Kobayashi-Hillary touches upon outsourcing objectives, India as an outsourcing destination, research ratings, outsourcing flavours, success criteria vendor selection, legal contracts and arrangements, culture and communication and employee transition and exit management. There is also a political map of India at the end of the book.

The book is a step-by-step “how to” guide that takes the reader through the entire process of outsourcing and is written in such a clear and easy-to-understand style that begs to be read. The chapter and section headings alone are worth the price for anyone who needs an outsourcing checklist.

‘Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage’ differs with other outsourcing books already in the market in that it provides a comprehensive understanding of the country, rather than just focusing on the business aspect of outsourcing. Also, the book is written from the author’s personal experience and several years of research in India, and includes many anecdotes, incidents and experiences that make it very interesting to read.

All in all, ‘Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage’ definitely makes for a valuable handbook and a ‘Bible-like’ manual for anyone considering outsourcing to India, or even for someone remotely interested in the subject.

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