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How to Keep Visa Restrictions from Delaying Your Transition to Global Service Delivery

by Ian Watt

Implementing a global service delivery model typically requires rapid mobilization of resources. Historically, global service providers have relied on a variety of visas to meet clients’ demand for skills and aggressive deployment schedules. However, this approach is becoming increasingly untenable.

Organizations in the United States planning significant change initiatives could see their projects delayed by staffing shortages due to current restrictions on visas for foreign workers. A contingency strategy is essential, therefore, to adjust for delays in bringing service provider resources on board.

Here are the TPI Top 5 key elements of a prudent transition contingency plan:

  1. Plan for delays to impact knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer processes. The time between assignment of offshore resources to arrival in the U.S. that has been traditionally 2 to 4 weeks is now 4 to 6 weeks. What is worse, you have to expect that some resources will be denied visas, requiring added flexibility in knowledge transition planning.
  2. Develop resource acquisition fallback options. Resource mobilization delays are inevitable, so adjust your internal staffing plans accordingly. During a transition, some subject matter experts (SMEs) will leave the company absent financial incentives to stay on and help. A lag in service provider transition resources can mean higher “stay” bonuses and SME costs. These all directly affect your bottom line, diminishing the value of the transaction.
  3. Find better ways to leverage technology and connectivity. Collaboration software and document sharing have a cohesive effect on virtual teams. Focus on integrating collaboration tools immediately. Setting up the appropriate connections is never as easy or as quick as it appears to be.
  4. Concentrate more transition work offshore. In some situations, the typical transition model can be inverted so that U.S.-based resources move offshore to work side-by-side with offshore team members at the service provider’s site. This can keep transition on track while improving cross-communication. Moreover, you can gain insight into how things actually work offshore, which will ultimately benefit the relationship.
  5. Jointly develop a risk mitigation plan. The current challenges are not isolated to India-heritage firms. U.S.- and European-heritage service providers have also experienced problems with visa processing. Facilitate dialogue between your teams and develop mitigation plans for the entire service portfolio. Given the tight schedules of transitions, these plans should be reviewed and adjusted on a weekly basis.

For more information on transition services, including the possible impact of visa and immigration issues on your sourcing strategy, contact Ian Watt, Director, TPI, at +1 847 452 5897 or

About the author

Ian works with companies around the world to optimize their strategy, strengthen their transactions and improve their transitions. He is comfortable and effective in unstable environments, bringing more than thirty years of direct experience to bear. He is a calm, experienced presence while managing and meeting client and team expectations, working effectively and efficiently even when desired outcomes are undefined or unstated. He currently specializes in high-risk transition activity and ADM transactions. He has wide-ranging experience with companies across many industries, including pharmaceutical, telecom, food service, media, energy, insurance, pension, and consulting. He has done significant work in the US, Europe and Asia.