Immigration Law Firms Outsourcing Back Office Processes : A Case Study
Outsourcing is the transfer or delegation of the operations and day-to-day management of a business process of a company to an external service provider. In turn the company receives a service that performs a distinct business function that fits into the company's overall business operations.
Outsourcing is one of the fastest growing service industries in today's global economy. Companies typically outsource as a way to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and refocus on their core competencies, leaving the rest of the business activities to their outsourcing partner.
Case for Outsourcing:
A forthcoming study by McKinsey looks at possible shifts in global employment patterns in various service industries, including software engineering, banking and IT services. Between them, these three industries employ more than 20m workers worldwide. The supply of IT services is the most global. Already, 16% of all the work done by the world's IT-services industry is carried out remotely, away from where these services are consumed, says McKinsey. In the software industry the proportion is 6%. McKinsey reckons that in each of these industries, perhaps as much as half of the work could be moved abroad. But even a much smaller volume would represent a huge shift in the way that work in these industries is organized. There may be just as much potential in insurance, market research, legal services and other industries.
“Outsourcing inspires more fear about jobs than hope about growth. But the agents of change are the same as those that brought about the 1990s boom. New-economy communications and computer technologies are combining with globalization to bring down costs, lift profits and boost growth.” From The Economist print edition
”Despite the challenges to moving IT, outsourcing and contact center services to India, China and other overseas locations, American companies are satisfied with their initiatives and plan to expand.
Weissman Center for International Business at Baruch College and The Paaras Group, jointly released a study based on comprehensive surveys and in-depth interviews with 38 global companies, mostly in North America.
It found that offshore outsourcing continued unabated last years especially as companies gained confidence in their ability to manage offshore operations.
It also found that outsourcing delivered significant benefits to pioneers as well as new comers last year and the companies were able to improve their quality while cutting costs.
"Despite protectionist backlash in the US and Europe, the offshoring wave has turned into a Tsunami - an inevitable outcome of globalization and economic integration," said Suresh Gupta, Managing Partner, The Paaras Group.” From The Economic Times
Why outsourcing works for immigration law firms.
Case against Outsourcing:
Below is a case study of a law firm that is out sourcing its paralegal and clerical processes. These processes include, without limitation, completing immigration forms, drafting employment letters and collecting personal data and information required to complete the forms.
Outsourcing was necessary to grow my practice without increasing fixed overhead costs. I had the concerns and was able to solve them to my satisfaction:
Before getting to how I dealt with these specific concerns I have some general comments about outsourcing.
First, the law office has to have at least some level of office network technology or be willing to make the investment to get one. If each attorney saves files on his or her computer which cannot be accessed by anyone else without physically sitting at the desk, there will not be much benefit of outsourcing. Fortunately, the cost of getting this type of networking is greatly decreasing while ease of use is increasing.
Second, the law office must make a commitment to have as many documents in a common electronic format as possible. We use the full version of Adobe Acrobat. It is hard to work with an outsourcing company if most the important documents are only on paper. If you have to fax the documents or send them to the outsource company by express mail the entire process will be very cumbersome. Again, the cost of the hardware and software to do is much lower than in the past and scanning is getting much easier to do.
How to share information and assign and manage assignments
I used two important elements to share information:
When I needed the outsource company to help me I created a new client folder in the shared drive it could connect to. I then assigned it a task from the database, explained what I wanted them to do in the client log, and set a deadline where I would check if the task was completed. I can also prioritize the tasks to show which are the most urgent.
Every day the outsource company would log in and could print out a list of assigned cases in the order of highest priority. They would then go to the database, read the client log to see what needed to be done, go to the folder to get the relevant information, and do the work. They would save their work in the same folder, put a notation in the client log that the work was done, and send me a task to review it.
I would review it and make sure it was correct. I would then either send the material to client for review or ask the outsource company to do so. When the outsourcing company communicated with the client they would always use an e-mail address from my company.
I would make notes of these assigns in the same client log which was available to both me and the outsource company.
We would both include all of our actions and interactions with the client in the log so we both knew exactly what was done.
Insure consistency in communication
We wanted the client to feel that they were dealing with our firm, not a series of unrelated individuals. We created many templates of memo’s, e-mail messages, letters, and other communication with the client. We also created a flowchart to show what information was needed at each step of the immigration process and the order of steps along the way.
We made this available to the outsourcing company and required them to use it.
We did this by using the software Mindmanager which allowed us to create flowcharts of each type of immigration case we work on. In addition, you can have links to relevant files or Web pages embedded in the flowchart. Finally, both our office and the outsource company can write notes on the flowchart for special emphasis.
For each new case we created a flowchart based upon the Mindmanager flowchart template. Both our office and the outsource company continually referred to this chart to make sure we working in a consistent way.
I have the following comments in conclusion:
Given the current global climate that seeks to improve efficiencies and optimize such efficiencies with the use of technology, it is hardly surprising that outsourcing is an attractive alternative that companies are considering today. Immigration firms are particularly keen clients of outsourcing as a means to reduce overhead, process lengthy forms efficiently and perform clerical work. Proper use of outsourcing is an effective way for immigration law firms to remain competitive. As such, the trend towards outsourcing will likely continue.
James C. Nolan, Esq. practices immigration
law in New York City. His law firm is located at 75 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038-4810.
P: 212-402-7840 F: 212-402-7841. Visit http://www.jnolanlaw.com to learn more.
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