Offshore freelancing may have come as a boon for the hundreds and thousands of companies in the US that could not afford to hire locally because of the prohibitive salaries, but it also has its fair baggage of pitfalls and drawbacks. One of the biggest concerns of companies who outsource to freelancers is the issue of data and intellectual property theft. Security breaches have been known to occur with disastrous consequences.
It is easy to understand why freelancers come under the scanner as far as data security is concerned.
- Most freelancers work from home, alone and unsupervised, and the home environment can never really compete with a professional office ambiance. Precious client data is stored on their laptops or PCs, subject to all the usual vagaries of technology.
- A freelancer usually works for more than one client at a time, juggling multiple assignments and deadlines. In addition, freelancers are notorious for according higher priority to the high-paying clients and a company's sensitive information can become the unwitting tool for holding the client to ransom in case of non-payment of dues or unnecessary harassment to meet work deadlines.
- The absence of a strong data security system in the average freelancer's work environment also do not make it very conducive for companies to outsource critical business processes to freelancers.
- Horror stories also abound in which freelancers have further sub-contracted the outsourced work to a third party which has then misused that data as a leverage for extracting more payment, or has held back important segments of work, thereby derailing the entire outsourcing process.
- Even if data theft does occur, there is very little the client can do to salvage the situation, handicapped by not just the distance but also the evasiveness of the freelancer and no contract in place to sue them for the breach of confidence.
Companies can, however, insulate themselves such horrifying data and intellectual property thefts by making an intelligent choice of the outsourcing vendor. Freelancers are obviously suitable only for very low-end and short-term projects. But, outsourcing has proved to be successful and sometimes as the only financially viable option for scores of SMEs and individual businesses the world over. These companies are now eager to outsource even core business processes but are often held back by the fear of being another victim of data security abuse.
For avoiding such serious concerns, companies would do well to undertake some Internet research and identify the leading and established outsourcing vendors that assure data security while outsourcing. A vendor's policies on safeguarding client data that passes into their hands is crucial.
Among the most reputed vendors is Virtual Employee , considered to be among India's top outsourcing companies, that specialises in providing its worldwide clientèle with their own dedicated human resource known as the ‘virtual employee’. This virtual employee works, not from home, but from the well-supervised office of the vendor. The office environment itself is the first step towards safeguarding any client information. Every remote employee signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and is liable to face strict legal action for any breach of client or vendor confidence.
Established vendors also ensure that as all client information which is handled by the virtual employee is stored either on their large servers or directly on the client's servers, with the remote employee working in an entirely virtual environment. So, at the end of the day, all information, data and passwords etc ‘disappear’ from the remote employee's workstation and remain the property of the client.
So, freelancers may seem cheap but a virtual employee is the one who is real value for money.
About Author:-Daya is an experienced former journalist who has written extensively for the UK gift industry till recently. Now, she brings her considerable creative writing experience to the exciting world IT Outsourcing , offshoring and in particular, freelancing .