Outsourcing: The Case for NOT Doing-It-Yourself 01.4.2024 | Susan Pineau

We all have a DIY-er in our lives, and more often than not, they wear this label like a badge of honor. Not one to shy away from a good challenge, they’ll forgo calling a pro and will tile the shower, prune the oak, and build a deck, guided by little more than a few YouTube tutorials. Sometimes, the finished product is surprisingly wonderful. And sometimes, it’s the opposite.

This DIY mentality can be a major source of contention in our home. While one of us argues the potential cost savings of keeping the task “in-house,” the other argues the risk of an inferior output (and the added cost of fixing it) and the time factor (a precious commodity as we juggle the demands of two young children).

“Why hire someone when I can do it myself?”

“But a professional will get the job done better and faster, the first time.”

Sound familiar?

The same parallels can be drawn in a corporate setting. Some companies are weary of outsourcing certain functions for fear of losing control of costs and processes and prefer the transparency of keeping things in-house. While this may be true in some circumstances, in our experience, we’ve only witnessed clients undergo positive transformations upon making the decision to outsource their mobility program, with many, in fact, experiencing more control over strategy and overall management. Allow us to explain:

The Criticality of the Mobility Function

A robust mobility program can expand your business footprint, develop future leaders, and optimize your talent strategy. But many of today’s thinly- stretched HR, payroll, and tax departments lack the specialized knowledge to navigate the inherent risks and complexities of mobile talent. The solution: outsourcing, or “co-sourcing”.

This collaborative approach partners in-house mobility professionals with subject matter experts in key functions to deliver a best-in-class, compliant mobility program. Whether a full or partially outsourced program, relocation functions are contracted to an outside supplier or suppliers — typically a Relocation Management Company (RMC) — giving the organization scalable access to the personnel, time, expertise, and services necessary to achieve its goals.

According to recent industry studies, anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of all organizations outsource at least one HR function, over 40 percent of companies outsource some or all of their mobility program, and many plan to increase their outsourcing of services in the coming year.

As the mobility landscape grows increasingly more complex – from tax and visa obligations to duty of care concerns and country-specific requirements — we expect this trend to swell in the coming years. Increased scrutiny on cost containment strategies will also amplify the value and appeal of outsourced models.

Weichert clients report 15-25% annual savings using a third-party provider through a Weichert relationship.  
Making the Move

Many stakeholders are involved in the decision to shift to an outsourced model, and getting buy-in can sometimes be challenging, particularly if there is the perception that service quality or jobs may be impacted. As part of the decision process, consider your company’s internal ability to provide the specialized support required in the recruitment, deployment, and ongoing management of mobile employees. And consider your team’s ability to overcome some of these common stumbling blocks to in-house program management:

  • Talent Management: What is your ability to recruit, train, manage, deploy, and retain a global team of specialized relocation professionals? What overhead costs are associated with maintaining the team, including addressing turnover?
  • Service Availability and Scalability: Can your team manage services and address employee concerns quickly and adequately regardless of volume spikes, illness, holidays, and time zones, 24/7/365?
  • Strategic Support: Do you have regular access to global data supporting policy best practices, benchmarking, emergency action (evacuation of employees due to natural disasters or political unrest), process and workflow analysis, or regional support models, etc.?
  • Compliance: Are you confident that your team knows where to access global country and city expertise in all matters pertaining to mobility (legislative, immigration, security/terrorism, household goods movement, pet importation, etc.)? Is your team comfortable with the complexities of the home sale process or domestic tax issues?
  • Program Management: Is your team adequately resourced to deliver counseling to employees to ensure policy understanding and compliance; employee needs analysis; development of customized relocation calendars; provider selection and management; service delivery follow-up; troubleshooting and issue resolution; administration of exception requests; total program demographic reporting and analysis; service level reporting and analysis with improvements recommendations, etc.?
  • Financial Management: Can you capture cost reporting and analysis accurately? Can you effectively manage recurring rental payments and employee expense reimbursement, including foreign currency exchange and restricted currency issues, as well as reclaimable VAT/GST? Can you provide timely equity and home closing advances to employees for home sale/purchase or rush payment processing? Are you auditing provider invoices and remitting in the required currency?
  • Supply Chain Management: Are you able to source, qualify, and approve global providers and negotiate pricing schedules, service level agreements, and service delivery parameters? Do you have a process for the ongoing review and management of providers, including service results analysis? Can you leverage volume-driven purchasing opportunities?
  • Technological Support: Do you have a technology platform to support all of the above for your internal management team and mobile employees?

These questions demonstrate both the enormity and complexity of global mobility administration and can help audit the effectiveness of your current processes. It’s okay if you didn’t have a “yes” for every point. Mobility professionals agree that the growing intricacies of our industry and the subsequent demand upon internal mobility teams for expertise are driving the shift towards outsourcing as a viable solution for many organizations.

Career suicide? Hardly. In-house mobility team members play a pivotal role in an outsourced relocation program, and today’s robust service providers offer relocation professionals a wealth of solutions, services, and tech-driven tools that might otherwise be out of reach. Moving the ownership of these tasks to an RMC enables the mobility program owner to focus on more strategic issues, such as talent management and succession planning, to better support the C-Suite (and whatever other responsibilities might be on your plate!) rather than getting tangled in the weeds of day-to-day service delivery.

Compliance, cost-containment, control, and confidence? Now, that’s one heck of a value proposition for ditching the DIY!

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Written by Susan Pineau

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Susan is a Research Analyst in our Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in workforce mobility, encompassing roles in Client Services, Equity, Client Accounting, Expense Management, Implementation and Proposal Writing.

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