Outsourcing is the next best thing in the world of business today. You hire experts to get a job done without the issues of permanent or casual staff. Many small to medium businesses do not need full-time staff for the services they need.
The function of outsourcing is also known business process outsourcing. This is hiring someone outside of the business with specific skills to complete business functions. It is not always practical to hire staff for some functions and SMEs may not have the budget. This gives SMEs access to the skills and services they need without making a big investment in time or money.
Hiring outsourced experts cuts costs, improves efficiency and allows the focus to return to the core of the business. Sometimes you have to admit you cannot do everything yourself. In fact, it can cost more if you try to do everything and cannot keep up with it all.
So, what are the pros and con of outsourcing?
People providing outsourcing services have fewer overhead costs. Most of their workers work on a casual or freelance basis living in countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, China and India.
It is common, for example, for businesses to outsource functions like customer service and telemarketing services. Get in the professionals when you need them and only pay them for their work. No need to hire people on a full or part-time, or casual basis. Pay outsource workers as contractors to access a bigger talent pool whenever you need it.
Outsource some of the business tasks a third party can easily manage. By hiring an outsourcer, you hire a specialist in a specific area. It can save you the costs of hiring staff to work onsite in the business. Costs are lower because wages are not as high as in Western economies but their work quality is high.
Outsourcing services include:
- online marketing and search engine optimisation
- inbound customer service
- outbound telemarketing
- virtual assistant
- administration and office support
- marketing and sales.
Downside of outsourcing
With the benefits of outsourcing come the downsides too. It can be difficult letting go of control of the work. Trusting others to do a good job can be an issue, especially when the contractor works from a remote location.
It takes time to trust. Talk things through before signing any contracts. Maintain project control using milestones the contractor must meet. If the work is not up to standard or there are issues, you can catch them early on. Although this is a downside, you can terminate their services if the work is not of the standard expected.
Communication can be challenging when working with contractors from around the world. Some things to consider before hiring outsourcing services include:
- The time zone the contractor lives in. How does that work with your business hours? A contractor working outside your business hours does not need to be negative. This can be beneficial, especially if contracting out customer service.
- How are you going to communicate? Are you going to use email and instant messaging? What about Skype and similar platforms?
- Check the person you want to hire has a reliable internet connection. The last thing you need is to hire someone and not be able to communicate with them because their internet is down.
Although quality control can be an issue, control this with regular reviews of completed work against the brief.
Outsourcing is a great way to get work done cost-effectively. SMEs and sole traders can get the experts they need to get work done on a project basis.