There are all kinds of reasons why you might consider outsourcing. By hiring professional firms to take on some of your most pressing tasks, you might reach that much hoped-nirvana of working less and earning more, especially if the company you hired excelled in their work.
You would be able to make life easier for your employees too, as by cutting down their to-do lists, you would have the opportunity to improve their time in your workplace. And by outsourcing to an outside firm, you wouldn’t have to hire new employees to take on those tasks that another company could carry out on your behalf.
These are all excellent reasons to outsource, but before you do, there are some very important questions you need to ask yourself first.
1. Am I outsourcing for the right reasons?
If you’re simply outsourcing because you can’t be bothered to take on a particular task, then you might want to reconsider. If you have the time and resources to take on the task yourself, this might be more cost-effective than palming it off to another. And if you are outsourcing because you lack certain skills, it might be that hiring a full-time member of staff or training yourself up in something could be more cost-effective in the long-term.
Of course, there are some very good reasons as to why you might outsource. Certain companies, such as those related to web design and b2b digital marketing, could give your business the edge over the competition. And for those one-off or occasional tasks that needed completing, it might be common sense to outsource rather than take on any new staff members to complete them.
So, think before you outsource, and make sure that you are only handing out work to others for the right reasons.
2. What location should I outsource to?
Will you outsource to local businesses and freelancers, or will you outsource overseas? Hiring locally is often the best option, as communication might be less of an issue when you are operating in the same time zone, and the people you hire might be more proficient when it comes to understanding your customers and clients. On the other hand, if you outsourced overseas, your business could effectively run around the clock, as with the change in time zone, your business hours could be increased. This is especially useful when outsourcing customer service (but consider #4 below). Of course, you could also combine both local and overseas outsourcing, depending on the circumstances. Still, consider the pros and cons of outsourcing overseas and locally before making any final decisions.
3. What company should I outsource to?
After deciding on outsourcing, you shouldn’t hire the first company you come to when researching on the internet, even if they are the cheapest. Quality must always come first, so look for evidence of a company’s worth, such as website testimonials, media mentions, and reviews from happy customers and clients on business review sites.
You should also speak to the companies you are considering, and ask certain questions. As examples:
- Who will be managing my project, and what are their credentials?
- How will you communicate with me?
- What makes you different from the competition?
- What security measures do you have in place?
- How can you meet the specific needs of my business?
If you are happy with the answers you receive, and if you have seen proof of their credentials, then you might want to go forward with the company in question. On the other hand, if you don’t get the answers you wanted, and if there are specific reasons why you shouldn’t hire them, then walk away. After all, you do have your business reputation to consider, so you don’t want the bad work of another tarnishing your company.
4. What should I outsource?
There are some tasks you won’t need to outsource, as you will have the skills to manage some of them, and you might have employees on hand with the time and talents to take them on. There are also certain tasks that might be better left in-house. As an example, you might want to think twice before outsourcing your customer service, as the people who use your business might prefer the personal touch that your experienced personnel can provide. So, before outsourcing, ask yourself the following questions.
- What skills gaps are there in my business?
- How will outsourcing improve my business?
- What tasks should I prioritise for outsourcing?
We already answered, in part, those last two questions in the first point within this article, but consider other types of outsourcing firms that could benefit your business. As examples, you might want to consider the accounting, manufacturing, PR, web content, and IT needs of your business. If you have the capabilities within your business, then fine. But if not, and if it would be more cost-effective for you to do so, then it might make sense to outsource those tasks that could support the needs of your business.
5. What are the risks involved?
Outsourcing has its benefits, but there are certain risks that need to be considered before hiring somebody. As examples:
- What if the company doesn’t have the ability to nurture your project?
- What if they are lax when it comes to security and confidentiality issues?
- What if they don’t complete your project in time for your deadlines?
- What if you are faced with unexpected charges?
Of course, you can mitigate these risks. As suggested earlier, there are certain questions that you should ask the vendor before hiring them, as you will then get a better understanding of what to expect. You should also commit to research. Still, it is important to consider the outsourcing risks we have mentioned, and perhaps any others), as you don’t want to hurt your business in any way when handing work over to somebody else.
It sometimes makes perfect business sense to outsource, but it’s not something to consider lightly. So, think before you sign on any dotted line of a contract, and ask yourself the questions we have posed at the earliest possible stage.