Michelle Bubke – Outsourcing as a solution for talent shortages
Last updated August 28, 2019
Second-time guest, Michelle Bubke, Chief Operating Officer of Offshoring Intelligence, to share best practices in small to medium outsourcing providers. Michelle has over 12 years of professional and corporate experience in the outsourcing industry. She found the talent pool in the Philippines as the answer to Australia’s scarcity of human capital as more businesses are struggling to hire the right candidate or employee.
Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is Episode No. 202. My name is Derek Gallimore as always. So today, I am joined by Michelle Bubke of Offshore Intelligence. Michelle actually joined this earlier on Episode No. 197 where we explored her corporate and professional background in outsourcing. Michelle actually started outsourcing in 2006 with her own Australian company that had about a hundred employees at that time. So, there’s a lot of knowledge and insight from Michelle here that we share. She has wrapped all of that up into her boutique BPO that she has which is called Offshore Intelligence. So, we deep dive and explore her BPO today in this episode. Again, it’s not an infomercial and I didn’t get paid for this it’s really just to see how different BPOs perform, what they offer and this one is a good example of how much oversight and expertise you really get along side your outsourcing service provider. So, it really is a partnership and Michelle really exemplify this. It’s really an interesting episode, I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure you will, too. So, if you want to get any of the show notes or find more about Offshore Intelligence go to outsourceaccelerator.com/202. Enjoy!
Hi and welcome back. Really today I’m super excited to be joined again by Michelle Bubke. Hi Michelle, how are you?
Michelle: I’m doing very well, thank you.
Derek: Great! And, we had a chat previously about your extensive journey here in the Philippines within the corporate setting starting outsourcing in 2006, which was the kind of early days of outsourcing especially in the kind of SMB space. So, thanks so much for joining us. I suppose just as a bit background if people haven’t heard previous episode, what is the kind of wrap-up with your journey? And how did you find yourself here in Manila?
Michelle: Shortage of employees in Australia. We are finding it very, very difficult to hire a staff. I started out and my background is in debt collection and the debt collection sector. We know, we literally struggling to find talent and it’s not one of those industries that people leave school and go, “Oh, I would become a debt collector. So, I actually started looking overseas for solutions and found it in the Philippines all these years of work.
Derek: Fantastic. So, the combination of your now 12-plus years’ experience within specialize verticals and outsourcing and many other kinds of involvements within outsourcing and kind of cross Australian-Philippine business. You have started Offshore Intelligence, which is a boutique BPO. So, we’ve got you on board, and this is not an infomercial you are not paying me for this, but you know I just find value in discussing the provisions of different outsourcing providers and where you can add value, and how you could make basically a business person’s journey so much more effective as a result of outsourcing. So, thanks for joining us on that. I suppose initially, what is Offshore Intelligence? And where do you fit in the market?
Michelle: Thanks Derek. I guess Offshore Intelligence was founded with Ken and myself. It actually came out of a bad experience that Ken was having with his listing[?] provider believe it or not. And we’ve realized, we got together and realized there’s a lot of nuances that we’ve missing in what I called the hand holding and that’s not I guess to tell anybody what’s intelligence or business acumen, but you know, setting up an offshoring team isn’t as simple as a set and forget. So, we brought Offshore Intelligence to the market to really, I guess, number one, we focus on candidate short markets in the Australian sector. You know meaning that there is a lot of shortages of talent, or the salaries are extraordinarily high, and all the businesses are suffering, and they are not really held[?] verticals they are looking for. And we along with them on how we can bring Philippine talents to help them achieve those goals. So, we really do focus heavily on the execution of their teams particularly as their on boarding’s. So, we don’t simply say, “Oh, great! You hired five staffs, this is where they fit, what you know this is their internet, this is what they need, off you go.” We aligned very heavily at the start human resources get involved with setting goals for the employees, and you know setting their KPI’s. And it sound very simple, but it often overlook, and it can really be the make or break. You know, business is first time experience in building an offshore team. So, our goal is to really, really help businesses succeed and often now they target one or two roles and we keep working with them. We get to understand the business. So that allows us then to help them also realize not just other roles that they can put over here but other processes that they can really look at the start and finish of that process. And anything that is really weighing down their Aussie stuff from going out and doing what they should be doing. We can often restruct some internal process so that allow them to use the benefit of their offshore talent as well. So, we don’t just let them pickup roles they want. We really help them align internally in their business what they can also utilize their offshore team for.
Derek: Yeah, and again it’s the combination of your 12 years’ experience. So that allows you to be in this position. And again, as you mention, instead of people underestimate the amount of training and kind of new learning’s they need to run an offshore team. And it’s not really bad to put it in some ways its very different; there is different cultures, there is different ways of implementing processes and training and it’s this things that can trip people up early on, it’s enough just to give them a bad experience or bad outcome. They don’t have any easy first wins and then they kind of just shove and move on and leave outsourcing here.
Michelle: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think you know, you nailed that they have a bad experience first time because there is no one their saying to them, “You know this is normal part of the Philippine culture, this is how we manage it, or this is how we recommend that you manage this type of things that will happen inside your team.” So, it’s also first, its managing the client’s expectation and it’s also, you know, as you know, as I do, sometimes Filipinos are quite shy in coming forward. So, we make sure that the clients in delivering their training in a way that fix[?] for understanding that can be quite different to this training methodology. So, it’s sometimes it’s the tiniest thing but done consistently can really make or break the success or building in offshoring team.
Derek: And after, I find this out that people coming from the first world, I mean, you deal with Australia, you’re upbeat. There is an assumption that this sophistication is within the Australian business. But often the SMEs in Australia, you know, most things are kind of done ad hoc, there is not a lot of defined process, there is not a lot of mapping, there’s not a lot of KPIs, and then when they come here they realize that actually they need all of this things mapped out. They need kind of identified processes, more delineated roles, KPIs as you sit down with your guys and help out with. Do you find that a lot of the businesses that come over here actually realize that they got to go through a maturation of their processes?
Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. And of course, part of what I think that we really trying to team with them is we don’t want to make it more [inaudible 00:08:10], we don’t want them to think, “Oh my gosh I’m gonna do 10,000 steps before this is going to succeed.” So, it’s really finding that balance between what they have in place and also, to what end goal do they have in mind. So, we just bring work with the client recently now for 20 roles over and you know, we split the team up based on where do they want to go, based on fresh grads, and then also a percentage of really high experience in place that they will utilize to grow and become trainers as they, you know, as their organization grows. So, it’s not just the process and the system, it’s also an understanding what’s your end goal. You know, you might be definitely tied with one employee but is that role going to be duplicated. If it works and you are happy, are you going to have 10 of them? If so, let’s have a look not just the skills of the the employees that you are hiring as the first one, but let’s have a look of their personalities, where could that possibly go inside your organization? And how could then they help your offshore team succeed as you grow it? So, there’s a lot of different nuances that I don’t think a lot of business in Australia are experienced or getting, I guess getting feedback on and then not getting ask the questions by providers that are offering their services and then, yet they are critical questions for the long-term success.
Derek: Yeah, absolutely and outsourcing is one the truest partnership isn’t it? You know, it really is a business partnership.
Michelle: It is absolutely a partnership. We consider all of our clients as partners and we work very closely with them in a lot of areas of their businesses, from business growth to succession planning and all those kind of things. And our team really does work closely with them.
Derek: What are your thoughts on the ICA[?] trend in the market now and I think it’s consistent with maturing market in that everything is becoming far more price oriented and there is a bit of a price war, things are getting cheaper, everything is getting stripped down to minimal service provisions so that the price can go down and down but then missing out on everything that we have spoken about. You know actually insuring that it’s results based services and not just getting a bum on a seat, it’s kind of side stepping all of that expertise and oversight. Do you have any thoughts in terms of, you know, have you notice it yourself and that everything is kind of getting stripped down to just you know, “this is the seat price, this is the person price and go off on your own”, versus kind of the bit of old school kind of business consulting and really sitting together and figuring out solutions?
Michelle: Yeah, look. I think it depends on the business themselves and the industry that they are in what they are looking for. We do see a little bit of that, but I think we tend to really partner with those who see the value in what we are bringing to them long term. It’s just not the short-term solution. And obviously with us, we look at the why. Why they’re looking at offshoring? Is that purely cost driven? And that comes in a very early in calibration conversations where, you know, sometimes we decide they are not the perfect partner for us because that is what they’re looking for, whereas we’re more about delivering long term sustainable quality employees for them. The other thing that I will say though is that we also have from our team, it really, really automated and strong internal processes, which means that we got a lot of efficiency that we do eternally as well that allow us to execute and deliver quickly easily using systems and you know all kind of stuffs that we bring together.
I think it is a combination of the both. We are also very efficient internally in our own staff and with our own internal systems and processes but when we partner with clients we tend to look at what their long-term goals are. And, you know, there are some people, we just realized they’re not going to be good fit for us and that’s fine. And so, we just choose not to partner with them.
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Derek: Absolutely. So what are some quick wins? There’s a lot of businesses that kind of tenderly approach the idea. And as you know, they need to deeply tone and get a quick win. But is it always the same approach or do you have different pacts[?] for different kinds of businesses? What are some the other some sort of sure fire ways kind of impressing people and kind of building that comfort levels as soon as they start outsourcing?
Michelle: Yeah, I think the first step is start with role that you struggling to fail. Like I say, we focus a lot in kind of like the short[?] markets. So, we get the talent, we hired them quickly for them, they get trained and then literally start producing results very, very quickly for their clients. And then they see the benefit. Then they will sit down and almost do business reviews on their internal structures and look at prices and not just roles. So, the quick win is being prepared to put some energy to those employees at the start. It doesn’t have to be arduous but, you know, with any brand new employee, they need to be given some sort of direction, and some sort of feedback. And it doesn’t have to be a long, you can use a lot of technology these days to make things super easy and super quick. I guess the quick wins are decide what roles you’re struggling to fill and get them filled quickly. Get your KPIs really, really clear and if they are not clear just work on them with somebody that helps to get them right. And just monitor it and the output, the outcomes will be there. There’s no choice about that, the talents, it’s extraordinary.
Derek: Yeah, really, it’s just kind of getting people’s confidence to a level just to give it a go really, isn’t it?
Michelle: Absolutely. And I think too, what I’ve commonly hear is, “I don’t know how I am going to communicate with the employees”, or there’s a lot of, you know, a lot of it is about risk, intellectual property, keeping those things safe. So, the key thing is, just do your due diligence on who your partnering with. Ask them the questions on how did they demonstrate that they can keep those things safe if your major concern is about IP or risk mitigation, all of those things. Just ask the questions at the early stage and then once you’ve ticked those boxes and you fill safe with that, then you are better just to let things to go on and getting your employees trained up and getting the results you’re looking for.
Derek: And again, I think that’s a bit of a kind of bogeyman fear, isn’t it really? Because there is, you know that they would probably do it tenth[?] of the vetting[?] in their own country for their own employees.
Derek: Then, they could be [crosstalk 00:14:39] because they are just sort of hiring anyone in Australia. And then, again, the security measures need to be kind of 10x for the Philippines just because there is that perceived difference, and that’s fascinating. So, of course, if people go with Offshore Intelligence, they are buying into your intelligence, your own business experience, and your kind of mastery of outsourcing. How does that cause structure work though? Is it a kind of all in one bundle? How do you find the process structures work for option intelligence, so that you can provide that extra guidance and insight?
Michelle: Yeah. So, as I’ve mention, we run a boutique. So, we don’t have the seat fee. We have the management fee and that involves a lot more employee involvement and system instructions around KPIs, and execution of things and like that. We do really get to know our client’s businesses quite in depth and understand what their long-term goals are. So, we do have a pretty easy pricing model, it’s just a management fee, and then obviously, the employee’s salary. On top of that is free portal[?] with no additional charges. And our management fee really does it’s often on a sliding scale depending on the growth, and what they are looking for long term.
Derek: Right, fantastic. Thank you, Michelle. And of course, if anyone wants to reach out to you, if they want to discuss more or just go to your website, how can they do that?
Michelle: Just reach out to me personally, firstname.lastname@example.org
Derek: Amazing! Thank you for your time.
Michelle: You are very welcome! Thanks Derek, talk to you soon.
Derek: Okay, that was Michelle Bubke of Offshore Intelligence. If you want to know anything about Offshore Intelligence or know any more about this podcast, go to outsourceaccelerator.com/202.
And as always, if you want to get in touch with us, or ask us anything then just drop us an email to email@example.com. See you next time!