Insourcing the Outsourcing


Thank you Warwick Merry, guest blogger, for sharing your experiences of outsourcing versus insourcing. For VAs, Warwick also shares his tips on promoting your value as opposed to getting into an ‘Us v Them’ war.

Really, offshore providers as I’ve said before service an end of the market many of us don’t really want. And understand when I speak of ‘offshore providers’ we’re focusing here on Indian, Filipino and Singaporean freelancers. There are many, many professional virtual service providers in the UK, Canada and the USA if you’re after outsourcing to someone in a different timezone – and English is their first language. But unfortunately most Australian businesses are looking for cheap – and India, the Philippines and Singapore is where they find cheap. And it’s where they are being told by journalists to go.

There are plenty of discerning clients out there who see the value of a professional VA – there are others who are simply wanting to save money. Choose which client you would prefer to partner with and your success will be assured. Waste time and energy worrying about work going to unprofessional freelancers who are cheaper than you and you do yourself and your business a disservice.

I have a client who sends me regular work – but he decided to outsource his WordPress blog to an Indian freelancer. He was thrilled with the result! And it didn’t cost him what it would have had he had someone do it here – like me! A short while later he contacted me to say that he got absolutely no service once the bill was paid. He couldn’t get updates done, his emails weren’t answered. What was he going to do? Could I fix it? Unfortunately I couldn’t work out what the freelancer had done in terms of the set up so he either had to contact the freelancer to fix it (at an additional cost) or it would have to be done over.

Remember: when you outsource to a freelancer (as opposed to a VA) it may end up costing you more – in lost time and additional expense – than you bargained for.

Thanks again to Warwick Merry for sharing his experience – and if others have found similar please contact me to let me know so we can balance the perspective. Warwick’s is not a unique case but unfortunately more people are out there talking about the cost than the quality. It’s time to balance the scales.

I’ve In-sourced my Outsourcing

We live in a global economy.  Whether you are big business or small business, it is easy to reach out to the other side of the world and get things done for a lower price.  But there is a lesson that the big boys found when they send work overseas that a few of us smaller players are just beginning to learn.  Let me explain.

When product manufacturers like General Motors, Nike and Reebok first set up factories in places like Mexico and Asia they were excited that rather than paying $35 an hour they would only have to pay figures like $6 an hour.  I can image all the accountants and management team declaring “Look at the economics!  We will save a fortune.”  Then the work started.

They found that with US management trying to run foreign factories language was an issue.  To communicate with the team took interpreters and that meant lost meanings, missing messages and additional effort.  Training was also an issue as the overseas workers took a lot more training hours to get up to speed and be able to do what was required.  The economics started to not look as good!

There are many stories of big business sending their business overseas and then bringing it back.  Even locally, more and more banks are placing their service teams overseas.  On that I have had a little to do with is the NAB.  They put a lot of their credit card processing overseas but what they did not put overseas is their customer service: the customer-facing side of their business.  The part where customers had issues, problems or queries and actually interacted with bank, the core part of their business they kept in-house.

As a small business operator, I also like to keep an eye on my economics.  As part of that I had some work transcribed overseas.  It was by an internet service, so it was a fixed rate, simple job.  If only that were true!  I had to spend a lot of time editing the work because their English and my English were significantly different.  They were also unfamiliar with business language so I had to do a lot of rework to make it flow properly.  So the economics to have it done overseas at a low price actually cost me a lot more in time and effort.

For a more recent piece of transcription work I chose to in-source it to an Australian service.  It cost me significantly more on an hourly rate to get it done and I couldn’t be happier.  I had a sample of the work returned to me within six hours and the completed job in less than 24.  The additional instructions I had left on the recording throughout the body of the recording were followed accurately and without the need to double check.  The most valuable thing for me was the on-the-fly editing.  What it meant for me was that the document only needed minor formatting before I sent it to my client.  For me, it was money well spent and I was pleased to spend a premium to get the job done right the first time.

At the end of the day, the lesson that big business and small business have learnt time and time again is that you get what you pay for.  So if you are selling these services, the key thing to focus on is not your rate, your availability, your turn around time or even how pleasant you are – what you need to sell is the value of what you do.  The value of time saved not having to rework the job, the time saved on not having to be trained to do it multiple times, the value of getting it right first time!  Naturally there are things that can be easily outsourced to others at a far reduced rate, but certain services are best in-sourced.  So for your success, work out where you add the most value and focus on it.

Warwick Merry
The Get More Guy

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop,


  1. Lyn and Warwick

    I love the well balanced blog you have provided – not only is it easy to understand and read…by chance I just did some proof reading for someone and fully understand the concept of ‘using your listening ear’ first hand. For example instead of Ducati and Moto Guzzi ‘inaudible’ was used and instead of ‘Ford’ the word ‘founders’ was used. So language and understanding and the ability to provide excellent service in this way is definitely what Warwick Merry would refer to as ‘work out where you add the most value and focus on it’. Thanks for the blog Lyn it was and is most timely….

  2. execva says:

    Thanks Michele! I did some transcription for a US-based company recently because the interviewee was Australian and none of their transcriptionists could understand the accent. That’s an English-speaking country – so you can see the risk Australian businesses run when they outsource to a country where English is not the first language. Particularly our unique form thereof! LOL!

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