An interesting piece in the Sunday Telegraph on offshoring and why both Gershon and James found it expedient to overlook the potential contribution to efficiency.  There is a fair challenge of the ‘if we were really serious about efficiency, we would be taking this seriously’ variety – but pragmatically, the question is whether we should be reflecting that as an option in anything else we do.  Might we get pushed at some point, and if so, do we want to jump first?

The article is here – though the Telegraph has slightly weird user logon requirements.  If you find you need one, you can short circuit the need to register at the ever useful bugmenot.


  1. When we were negotiating with the IR on Aspire, we were not allowed to include offshoring as an option in order to reduce costs – Seems bizarre!!
    The IR are even nervous where for business reasons, people from another Gov department have access to an IR system!
    There are some legal issues around taking UK Citizen Data offshore but I am sure if UK Gov really wanted they could easily resolve this and anyway just because a contact centre migh be in Mumbai doesnt mean that the application hosting and data has to be!
    As far as application development goes , there are other alternatives which have similar cost benefits. Rightshoring for example brings the offshore staff onshore. This is intersting as it takes away some of ths issues with “offshore” outsourcing i.e. geographical &time zone. It also reduces some of the inherent language barriers by allowing 1-1 interaction.
    This may pose an interesting set of challenges:
    – would this then lead to UK IT companies slashing their rates in order to compete?
    – why bother with offshore capabilities in the first place, just import cheap resource?
    – force the change in mindset & legislation to allow citizen data offshore.
    Back to the contact centre question posed in the article, does the initial “jump” need to mean moving contact centres offshore?
    I know Dell for example had some serious problems when they moved their technical contact centres out to India (my next door neighbour spent a year there trying to sort it it out!). Whilst there are clearly highly educated and skilled workforces in Asia and Eastern Europe (and elsewhere), there are cultural and language issues to resolve. In India for example (which is the problem Dell had) the culture is for people to say “yes” even whem they mean “no” – they dont want to be seen to lose face. So when training people and asking them if they have understood what they have just been told – they will say yes even if the do not have foggiest idea! This type of issue will gradually go away but maybe now is not the time for UK Gov Depts to make such a big jump – let the financial services guys pave the way first…?
    There must be some significant savings to be made by just outsourcing contact centres within the UK i.e. taking away the cost of the estate and infrastructure and staff etc from the Department? I did something like this for Tax Credits when it was being launched which proved this…and whilst we are on the point of outsourcing contact centres, the issues around consolidation of front office fucntions and having agents who can muti-task and not just deal with one thing becomes a reality when using the right vendor ro run your centres…!

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