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Weighing the Trade-Offs

The Situation

Able Systems is a software company specializing in technology solutions for the food industry, including supermarkets and restaurants. All of your customers are located in the United States and operate nearly 24 hours a day. You provide excellent phone support for customers who have an issue, but your expenses are increasing and you’re looking for ways to contain costs.

The Dilemma

Able Systems has tried to stem escalating phone support costs by limiting the number of specialists working on each shift, but long wait times have angered customers. Because of the technical and problem-solving skills needed to provide remote support, hiring less-qualified employees is just not an option. You’re looking at your competitors and you’ve noticed that many have offshored their operations—hiring employees in other countries to provide support. Because of a large number of English speakers and an adequate supply of applicants with the education needed for a support position, you are considering setting up a phone support center in Jamaica.

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This solution is not without concerns. If you offshore your support operation, you will have to lay off most of the U.S. support employees. You’re willing to provide outplacement services to make sure that they can find new jobs, but you’re still concerned about the impact of layoffs on your remaining employees. A group of programmers who caught wind of this proposal have begun to wonder if their jobs are next. In addition, local elected officials are concerned about the impact of layoffs on the local economy. Your boss is pressuring you for a recommendation and you’re weighing the pros and cons of both options.

Team Activity

  1. 4-14.Have each member of the team create a list of the pros and cons of offshoring the phone support. As you develop your list, be sure to consider all of the stakeholders in this decision—the company’s executives, employees, customers, and community.
  2. 4-15.Gather your group together and reveal, in turn, each member’s lists of pros. Narrow the list to the three or four most commonly cited and important advantages of offshoring phone support.
  3. 4-16.In similar fashion, have each member of the team read his or her list of disadvantages. Identify the most significant disadvantages based on your team’s assessment.
  4. 4-17.Considering the interests of all stakeholders, what is the best option in this situation?

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