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In this post, I am going to talk about what is an infrastructure provider, how it should (or shouldn’t) fit in your small Chinese team building plans and help you cope with some of the challenges of doing business in China.
This post is part 6 of a series of posts about how to setup your own team in China. If you didn’t read the first post in this series I recommend you read it here. After reading it, this post will make more sense.
What is an infrastructure provider?
An infrastructure provider is a service provider that takes care of everything that is not directly related to executing your project. These are tasks that any Chinese team building plan will include.
That would include providing a company under which you can hire people, taking care of all employment related issues like employees benefits, salary payment, legal termination of employment contract if needed, etc. They also take care of your team expenses management, control, and reimbursement, office space for these people to work if needed, all office services including internet connection, printers, stationary and anything else you would expect your supporting functions to do for you.
Doing all this well has a lot to do with knowing how to manage employees in China and that goes back to communication in the early stages of your Chinese team building process.
That takes away from you the low priority but very time-consuming tasks like the initial screening of candidates or pushing your ISP to get the internet working again when it stops.
In a way, it is a leasing service for companies doing business in China. Just like leasing a car, you don’t need to service it, your leasing agent will. You get the car in a fully functional state, get in the driver’s seat, and start driving.
So you lease the infrastructure or in other words, everything your employees need in order to work and hire the employees, the same way you hire them through a manpower company. This alone can shorten your Chinese team building process a lot.
Why would I want to hire an infrastructure service provider?
The reason why you may want to work with an infrastructure provider is because the amount of your projects in China requires you to have a full-time person or a team of people you want to directly supervise and you don’t want to worry about admin, the technicalities related to their employment and paying their taxes.
Another reason is that if while working with your employees, you accidently say or do things that will be interpreted negatively by your employees, your infrastructure provider can act as an HR manager and help you do the needed damage control.
In this way, you can focus on managing your team, get firsthand information from the people in the field and change staff members if you are not happy with them.
You can tell them exactly how you want to get your reports, know that you have people in China that are fully dedicated to you, that with time will get to know you and how you want things to be done.
With time, your local team will start giving you a lot of valuable information about the status of your projects, and also about how to handle situations better in a Chinese business culture environment….all you have to do is listen….
Infrastructure provider – The main advantages
This is taken for granted, but if you have a team of 5 people or less, it just doesn’t make sense hiring a full-time admin person, just so that the other 4 people can work.
It is 25% additional cost. If you have only two people than it is 50% additional cost.
Working with an infrastructure provider, you obviously pay for their admin people, but you share their cost with other companies.
Sometimes, your infrastructure provider can also act as your buying agent. This can become very useful when you deal with low priority products and your people may not have the time or experience with those products.
Sometimes your employees are not working in the most efficient way.
Sometimes they start coming to work late or there is something about their behavior that indicates that they have issues in their privet lives that prevent them from working effectively.
In many cases only if you see the employees on a regular basis or talk to their colleagues you will notice these things, and I don’t need to tell you what is the difference between the results you get from an effective employee, and the results you get from an employee that is always thinking about things other than work.
Sometimes you make the wrong choice and after a while, it turns out you hired an employee with low ethics standards.
You can get some signs about this kind of issue by overhearing employees conversations and speaking to vendors. Because the infrastructure vendor is working in the background,
employees tend to feel more relaxed about what they say next to them, and this is why they are a good extra pair of ears and eyes that can pick up signs of things not going in the right direction.
If you have any questions about infrastructure provider or you would like to share your experience with us, please contact us. We would love to talk to you about your projects in China.