NBC’s new sitcom “Outsourced” premiered Thursday night. It’s supposed to be a comedy about outsourcing, specifically about a U.S. company that outsources its call center operation to India. The problem is it gets outsourcing so wrong it’s not even funny. During the show’s 22 minutes – minus the eight minutes of advertising from the likes of Yoplait, American Express, Subway and Sierra Mist (they should be ashamed) – the needle on my lol meter never budged. I read a review Friday that called it “horrible” and the “worst new show of the season” so it’s not just me.
Putting comedy opinions and silly stereotyping aside, from my perspective the show does nothing to dispel the knee-jerk misconceptions that surround outsourcing; rather it propagates them.
I get really frustrated when people who don’t have a clue about outsourcing start bashing it. In a blog post earlier this year I wrote about the mistaken perceptions that people have about outsourcing and offshoring, mainly that outsourcing simply means shipping U.S. jobs overseas. The general media, along with many politicians, plays into that by bashing outsourcing exclusively as jobs being shipped overseas.
Outsourcing is actually a respectful industry. It’s not about finding cheap labor overseas – it’s about finding the best providers for the performance of non-core activities. Yes – some companies have gone about it wrong chasing cheap overseas labor – but those that do miss the point and end up with failing outsourcing deals and customers who are frustrated with poor performance. Microsoft is a company that is getting it right, winning the Shared Services Outsourcing Network “Best Mature Outsourced Service Delivery Award with Accenture – who manages Microsoft’s back office procure-to-pay process. Jaguar and Unipart also get it right – with Unipart having a vested interest in helping Jaguar reach top billings in the JD Powers Customer Satisfaction.
Outsourcing is not a joke or a funny human resources endeavor; NBC’s “Outsourcing” is a joke, but not the kind with laughs or that bears repeating.