Soft Skills: Critical Factors For a Success Outsourcing Engagement

Over the last decade, there has been an emphasis on outsourcing, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. This trend is occasioned by the successes recorded in countries like China, the Philippines and India who have successfully harnessed the gains of outsourcing and its ability to transform the economy. 

With the increasing unemployment rate, amid the growing youth population, policymakers and economic advisers have now beamed their focus on the outsourcing industry vis a viz its potential to turn the economic fortune of Nigeria around. 

According to a newspaper publication (June 22, 2020), the Federal government planned to create 1 million jobs through digital outsourcing over a 12-month period as part of the government’s Economic Sustainability Plan aimed at mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

While the creation of jobs is always a welcome idea, the important question to ask is whether a country like Nigeria has the needed human capital or workforce to deploy at various levels of outsourcing engagement―be it backend or front office.

Critical to the success of any outsourcing engagement are on demand soft skills needed by the drivers of the processes.

Soft skills are non-technical requirements needed by an individual to perform on the job. According to, soft skills are “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” 

This presupposes that no matter how gifted or intellectually aware an individual is, he may not be able to interact or communicate effectively in the workplace with other colleagues if he lacks soft skills. Therefore, an individual must possess these soft skills to function effectively in the workplace. 

Soft skills are becoming a critical tool for career and life success. No matter how technically equipped an employee is, that individual will find success hard to come by without the possession of relevant soft skills.

For example, a trained pilot may not be allowed to fly a plane if he lacks the skills to communicate with co-pilots and other crew members. Similarly, a trained medical doctor won’t record success in his profession if he lacks people skills needed to relate with patients, nurses, and other staff.

The twenty-first-century workplace is interactive. The success of any organization is dependent on the connectivity of the various units and departments to interact and work towards achieving a common organization’s strategic goal. No group or individual can work solo anymore, hence the need to acquire soft skills that encourage the free flow of information through effective communication channels.

Types of Soft Skills

The changing nature of the work environment has also widened the scope of soft skills needed to function effectively. Virtual meeting management skills weren’t required 10 years ago, but today most meetings are held virtually and the ability to participate and manage virtual meetings effectively is now a requirement for most organizations.

That said, let’s take a look at the most critical soft skills needed to function in the workplace. They include Communication, Leadership, Teamwork, Problem Solving, Time Management, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, Dynamism, Flexibility, Decisiveness, Creativity, Collaboration, Information Management, Adaptability, etc.

Point of Convergence Between Soft Skills and Outsourcing

In today’s highly competitive business climate, no single organization can hold a monopoly over a technical domain and in a world of increasing complexity and innovation, skills like building partnerships, communication and collaboration have become particularly important. Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to have a competitive edge over competitors in a bid to remain profitable. And one of the ways to achieving that goal is to outsource non-core aspects of their businesses.

More companies today are outsourcing their services whether onshore, nearshore or offshore. Back in 2019, Clutch Report on ‘Small Business Outsourcing Statistics’ reported that the global outsourcing market totalled $85.6 billion in 2018 and as of the time of the report more than one-third of small businesses were outsourcing a business process  ( 

Since outsourcing involves two or more parties (usually between a client and vendor), it is vital for both parties to have qualified employees who can drive the processes. Without competent employees, any outsourcing engagement is bound to fail and can lead to the loss of valuable resources. Whether it is the back office or front office operations, those to be deployed must be people with on demand soft skills like communication, interpersonal relations, document processing skills, etc.

People are the most valuable aspect of any business engagement and outsourcing is not an exception. People must be equipped with relevant soft skills to deliver on the job.

Poor soft skills were reported as the single biggest issue faced by recruiters of new industry entrants, and the reason many graduates were not engaged.

Therefore, a competent workforce equipped with modern soft skills is vital to the success of any outsourcing engagement.

Pius Ibharoga

Pius Ibharoga

Business Manager, HRM

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