Earlier this month, the Government announced a new £2.5bn program to help UK companies grow and go global, as well as two new “tech hubs” in South Africa and Brazil to build partnerships, develop capabilities and establish business networks in these markets.
One of the greatest challenges when expanding into new territories is finding the right talent. The customers may be ready and waiting, and the investment may be burning a hole in your pocket, but a company can’t succeed without a team that both delivers on business objectives and aligns to its working practices and culture.
When finding the right talent for new growth territories, businesses must weigh up the benefits of hiring local teams, sending out existing teams or a mixture of both. The workforce chosen will partly depend on the business and project requirements. But, before any decision is made, organizations must assess the project work and required skills, duration, and associated costs, along with the geographic practicalities to work out the best solution:
Hiring local teams
Sometimes, businesses will benefit more from hiring new teams abroad. One of the main reasons for this is the availability of talent; for instance, we’ve worked with some UK-based clients to outsource specialist developer skills to other countries on a project basis, where skills can be much easier to find, develop and retain.
If organizations decide to hire a team overseas, they should look to partner with workforce specialists that can tap into talent across the world. At Experis, we’re working closely with companies worldwide to enable this, taking on outsourcing capabilities in India, Ukraine and Poland and many other countries as examples. But before any final decisions are made, it’s important to consider the legal and social costs of having a workforce across different countries.
Managing global talent
It’s now far more common to have geographically dispersed teams and core management working together. And, we’re seeing more examples of remote, collaborative working models to ensure projects are delivered on (or ahead of) time.
For instance, you could have a software development team working in Europe that sends their work to a testing team in Asia as they leave the office. By morning, the new application could be up and running ready for User Acceptance Testing (UAT). This relay between cross-continent teams enhances productivity and efficiency, speeds up project completion rates and reduces time-to-market for new products and services. Technology is facilitating this kind of working relationship with collaborative tools like Skype, real-time screen sharing and virtual conferencing commonplace. In addition to technology, project management methods that account for modern distributed teams are also becoming increasingly popular.
Encouraging teams to tap into their own networks for knowledge and advice wherever possible is important too. We’re already seeing pockets of this happening in business, for instance, when software developers turn to social networks or online forums to overcome issues with their code. They can often gather quick responses from their peers, fix and finish their project in real-time.
Sending existing teams to new territories
Often this approach is a short-term solution to draw upon existing knowledge and expertise. For instance, if there is a 3-6 month project abroad, it’s sometimes quicker and easier to move existing teams to a new location as a temporary measure, as they already know the company and how it operates. However, if they lack relevant knowledge of local culture and language this can be a hindrance.
Ultimately, it’s about creating an ecosystem of distributed working, which facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing. Whether it’s moving teams abroad, hiring new ones, taking on short-term contractors or ‘gig’ workers or outsourcing, British businesses planning global expansion must prioritize a flexible workforce that can be scaled up and down according to business priorities and growth areas.