As I write this post, I am on ‘hold’ with a payment processing service. The challenge: Setting up a payment mechanism service for a writer I’ve contracted in Pakistan, who will help generate some of the mass of content required for our various regional construction news websites in the U.S. and Canada.
The individual doing the work I know well, yet not well at all. Several years ago, he helped out with a variety of IT services through one of the online services acting as brokers between contractors and clients. More recently, he approached me through a direct email indicating his availability to perform services for our organization.
After reviewing his samples, work, and prices, I gave the go-ahead, and he has started generating the content. The task now is to pay him; and it is easier said than done, it seems, to move money from a Canadian account to a Pakistani cell phone. I’ve never spoken to him, met him in person, and certainly, I’ve never been to Pakistan.
When is work is done, it is routed to me or another Canadian editor, and then sent to Romania, where another contractor handles the administrative details of uploading the content to the relevant websites, as she helps maintain our e-list and complete other tasks — at a pay rate of less than $3.00 per hour. The Romanian contractor also works by email though recently we had a hybrid voice/text conversation (I could talk to her, but she could only text in response.)
I suspect the reason for the payment processing difficulties to Pakistan relates to the controversial situations and abuse and terrorism funding issues in this part of the world. What should (in 2018) be a relatively simple process has become more challenging as controls are in place to prevent problems.
We’ll ultimately sort the issue out and I’ll pay the contractor, the work will be done, and our business will continue with its plans to build, develop, manage and enhance its network of regional construction industry websites. (Note: the service ultimately confirmed all is okay, and released the funds.)
There are some rather fundamental questions here, however, about the way things are heading. For example, is it right that “local” sites be managed remotely, by a business in one country separate from the sites, with most of the work done half way around the world in two totally separate countries, in east Europe and Asia?
Some people cringe at the costs of globalization — of the degrading of labor value and the burning effects of low-cost competition on domestic wages and opportunities. And some rightfully argue that the quality cannot be the same if things are handled remotely rather than locally.
There are no easy answers to these questions, which of course also impact marketing decisions and behaviours. Should we trim our costs by offshoring certain (or all) functions relating to a campaign; can we truly gain a competitive advantage by racing to the bottom on costs?
I think the answer will emerge with a mixed conclusion.
For example, I don’t think the projects we are doing now would be possible if we had to fully staff local offices and try to build the business that way. Equally, I think there are real advantages in human connections, relationships and personal involvement and communications and ultimately the projects where we engage in local markets will need that local touch to be truly successful in the long-term.
The conclusion: Yes, offshoring and reducing costs has value, but we won’t lose touch with the need and responsibility to conduct our business with integrity, and create relevant local opportunities and relationships as the business grows.