India’s Biggest Advantage Isn’t Its Labour Costs

At the start of this year I accompanied one of my clients on a trip to India to visit a number of LPO suppliers. During our packed week, in which we covered sites in Noida, Gurgaon and Mumbai, we saw a wide range of supplier capabilities, approaches and facilities. But one thing was consistent across all of the suppliers, and, I believe, is the quality that will ensure India’s continued success in this ever more competitive market. You may be surprised to hear that it has nothing to do with price.

With each of the suppliers we visited, we were insistent that we didn’t just get a series of presentations in their boardroom; why travel for 11 hours when you could do the same thing in the comfort of your own boardroom? So, as part of the agenda, we walked the floors and met the people who actually did the work on behalf of the suppliers’ clients. And this is where we found our gems. Without exception, everyone we met was professional, friendly, approachable and, most importantly of all, committed. And we didn’t just meet people the senior managers wanted us to meet – as far as we could (remember that there are very strict confidentiality requirements in place when you are working on firms’ legal processes) we talked to people randomly and without their managers present. The consistent themes we found were of staff who were proud to be there, that wanted to succeed and who put their clients at the same level (and, in some cases, above) their own employers. And, in an environment where they may have met their opposite numbers only once before and who might operate in completely conflicting time zones, that is highly commendable indeed.

And don’t think that this advantage could only be over other outsourcing destinations. As a management consultant, I’ve met many, many staff from hundreds of organisations across the world and, particularly, in the UK. Rarely have I seen such pride and commitment as we witnessed at those LPO providers in India. Whether you see that as an unfavorable statement on Western staff or a positive statement toward Indian staff, it can only be a good thing for outsourcing as a whole: it’s clear that the business case for resourcing offshore should be stated as not only being cheaper, but better.