Outsourcing is the latest buzzword these days, as more and more cost and quality conscious businesses all over the world are turning to freelancers, subcontractors, and third party agencies for outsourcing their non-core business processes. So, what exactly is outsourcing, and what are the benefits of having an outsource partner do your work for you?
Outsourcing refers to how companies entrust the processes of their business functions to external vendors. Pretty much any business process can be outsourced. These include tasks such as transaction processing, payroll and order, data input, bookkeeping and accounting, text and editing services, website design, graphic design, transcription services, search engine optimization, and inventory management to name a few. Plus, there are a whole lot of call center services that are being outsourced as well.
What are the benefits of outsourcing?
You may well be reading this and wondering why outsourcing is so popular. After all, you are probably doing these tasks using your existing staff and plodding along quite nicely indeed, so why would you pay someone else to do them?
Well, plodding along is the key thing here. You want your business to do so much more than plod along. You want it to grow, to flourish, and for you to reap the benefits of all of your hard work. You want it to be the leader in the industry, to be the business that people think of when they need something and for you to be respected by your peers, and by not outsourcing some of your operational processes, you may well find that you are holding yourself and your business back.
So what are the benefits of outsourcing to an external vendor?
There are many benefits of outsourcing your business processes, and here, we are going to look at them in a little more detail.
The cost advantages
The most obvious and visible benefit relates to the cost savings that outsourcing brings about. You can get your job done at a lower cost and better quality as well. For a start you do not have the costs associated with recruiting and hiring a member of permanent in-house staff – the costs of advertising, the interview process, the necessary background checks and any training that needs to be undertaken can be costly. When hiring a freelancer or a third party agency, you either approach them directly for the work or advertise your work for a much lower cost on a website such as Upwork or People Per Hour, and the freelancers will bid for the work. You do not have to pay things like holiday allowance, maternity pay or paternity pay, and if you no longer need them, you can let them go much more easily than a permanent member of staff.
An increase in efficiency
When you outsource your business needs to an outsourcing partner, they bring years of experience in business practices and expertise in delivering complex outsourcing projects. Thus, they can do the job better with their knowledge and understanding of the domain or the area. This leads to an increase in productivity and efficiency in the process, thereby contributing to the bottom-line of your company.
Focus on the core areas for your business
Outsourcing your business processes would free your energies and enable you to focus on building your brand, invest in research and development and move on to providing higher value-added services.
Save on infrastructure and technology
Outsourcing eliminates the need for investment in infrastructure as the outsourcing partner takes the responsibility of the business processes and hence develops infrastructure for the same.
Access to a much bigger pool of skills
You no longer need to invest in recruiting and training expensive resources for your business. The freelancers that you employ the services of are well educated in the respective business areas and are experienced in handling the business needs of companies that want to outsource.
Being able to take advantage of different time zones
One of the key benefits of outsourcing is that you can choose someone from anywhere in the world to take on the task, providing they have a computer and a reliable internet connection. This gives you the benefit of being able to take advantage of different time zones. Get your job done while you are closed for the day and wake up to your service being delivered the next morning. This unique advantage gives you the benefit of round-the-clock business operations.
Much faster and much better services
Make your service offerings better with high-quality deliverables and decrease the lead time it takes for your product to reach the marketplace. Thus you would be faster in getting your ideas converted into products and better at delivering the value-added proposition.
However, before you look at getting someone in to do the work, it is important to make sure that it is something worthwhile for your business.
Five questions to ask yourself are:
- Is it something you enjoy?
- Do you have the time to do it yourself?
- Do you have the skills to do it yourself?
- Do you need to be involved in that particular task?
- Can it be automated at all?
If you have answered ‘no’ to all or any of those questions, then outsourcing is something you should be looking into. You want your business to grow as quickly as you can, and by outsourcing specific tasks, you can focus on what you can and need to do. Don’t just outsource for the sake of it, or because others do. Think about what will work for your business.
Before you commit to outsourcing, do a little bit of research. Find out what onerous tasks are draining your time. Use a work tracker, such as Harvest for a few weeks. At the end of a month, or a set period, you can see exactly how long you or your employees have spent on tasks. Even if you hate doing a job, if you only spend an hour on it a week, is it worth outsourcing? You’ll spend more time organizing and managing it, not to mention the potential cost than it’s worth.
Consider outsourcing any activity that fits into the following criteria:
- Something you are not well known for – if you are a software designer, don’t outsource the software design. That’s your thing, that’s the foundation of your business.
- Something that isn’t your forte – no one can be good at everything. Whilst you might be an excellent designer, for example, you might be lacking in digital marketing skills and have no idea when it comes to search engine optimization This is something that can have a huge impact on your business, so it is worth calling in the professionals, such as seoexplode seo services company to help you out.
- Something that you don’t enjoy – ok, so sometimes, we all have to carry out tasks that we don’t enjoy, but if it is something that you hate, then it is worth giving to someone else so you can focus on something that you do enjoy.
Once you have settled on a task to outsource, there are further things to consider.
- Do you need to outsource the entire task? If you have a blog, for example, as part of your business and you enjoy writing it, can they do the social media promotion for it? Can they collect the ideas and research so you can focus on the actual content?
- What will you communicate what they need to do? Make sure your instructions are explicit and clear. There is no point giving a wishy-washy direction such as ‘design a website for me’. You’ll spend more time going backward and forwards clarifying, asking for changes and sorting out problems than it is worth. Make sure your outside source knows from the onset precisely what you want them to do. It might take time to start with, but it will save time (and money!) in the long term.
- Are you going to hire an agency or a solo freelancer? Agencies have more staff, covering a broader range of skills. If one person is off, there is someone else that may be able to take over the work. However, you pay extra for this. Freelancers may be cheaper, but they will possibly have to balance you with other clients. You need to weigh up which works better for you and your business.
- How will you communicate? Communication is essential. From the outset, you need to decide on a method of communication (email, telephone, face to face meetings) and how often you want to discuss the work or be kept up to date. It is also vital that both you and they keep a record of what is going on. Tools such as Trello or Asana can be useful for this.
As long as you make sure you are outsourcing only what is necessary, find the right agency or person and communicate clearly at every step of the way, outsourcing should help you run your business much more effectively.