Have you ever considered whether it is more cost-efficient to take on a task in-house or to outsource it?
What if, say, no one else knows the business but you? Certainly, while you have the ability to do everything inshore, you can strategically streamline your business by outsourcing so you can focus your time instead on the essentials of your business. Under the Pareto Principle, identify which 20% of your work produces 80% results.
- What 20% of things cost me 80% of my time?
- What 20% of things create 80% stress? 80% anger? 80% unhappiness?
- What tasks do I enjoy but a freelancer would do better and save me valuable time?
When you outsource, you are sourcing work from outside. You delegate your work to a third party service provider who comes from an alternative pool of world-class talents from other countries. To be able to delegate effectively, you will need to have the knowledge of your own processes as you may have to walk your external vendor through your business tools and processes to produce the final output you desire.
Visualise what you need to get done before you outsource.
- Choose which area of your business you would like to outsource. Routinise and list the tasks under that, that need to be accomplished in a day. A strong grasp of what you want to be delivered and how you want it delivered should allow you to choose the right provider to meet your needs. Be specific as to the type and expertise level of a freelancer. Mention long-term or repeat work so you get a better pricing.
- Ask: If I eliminate a task, will the project still exist?
- If you are not able to eliminate a task, is there a valuable alternative source that can handle such a task?
- If yes, is this a core task? The key is to determine whether a non-core task can be performed by a third party at a lower rate, quickly and efficiently.
- If it is not a core task, do you have the experience to do the task?
2. Effectively plan not just on a daily basis but so too your weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. Break down goals into milestones. As you determine your quarterly goals it will help you determine whether you are hitting your larger goals.
3. Choose the provider that can add value of the customer service experience you want to deliver.
Offshoring versus Outsourcing
Outsourcing does not necessarily mean offshoring because the latter involves the physical relocation of a part of your business in another country. Outsourcing is not delimited to being availed of only by large companies either. In fact, small to medium-sized businesses get value from outsourcing. All these different businesses including non-profit organizations outsource essential abilities from abroad as a strategic approach to control costs. For example, you won’t need to rent too big an office space anymore or invest in expensive equipment if your provider can take care of them. Most companies outsource to save money on labor. Labor savings mean freeing up of capital for other investments or hiring more people that can multiply your productivity level.
Cut costs, improve efficiency without sacrificing quality
Will outsourcing help you make key decisions? Will outsourcing reduce your operating costs?
Know where to outsource
The three best locations where to outsource are:
- The Philippines – Alongside Filipino, English is an official language in the Philippines. They have great talent pools for SEO experts, HR, customer service agents and virtual assistants. Their strong English proficiency makes it nearly impossible for some customers to suspect they are talking to someone who is located halfway across the world. They will require a little bit of development but it is worth the price.
- India – They have the largest number of English speakers in the world. Their fast developing infrastructure have emerged them as a great place to find SEO and software development application experts but they may require a bit more personal development than talent from the Philippines.
- Eastern Europe – This area is increasingly attractive as it is culturally aligned with Western Europe. Eastern Europe’s level of education is also high but it is the most expensive option. They have the best developers at the best price.
Communicate your expectations
Set your expectations correctly. Hire the right people. Hire, oversee and manage. Engage your virtual assistant in a friendly conversation. Point out what qualities you are looking for. Do not expect stellar quality work every time you outsource. No one is infallible. Do not assume everybody thinks the way that you do. Set modest and achievable targets. You need to be as clear as you can with what tasks your helpers are responsible for and how they should handle them. The specifications will need to be upfront and clear. They need to be on paper so you can reference them in the future.
Communication is key. Make sure to present a written version of what you have verbally let them know. Have a concrete way of measuring success. Write job and project descriptions. A job description is an account of the assistant’s responsibilities. A project description goes into the problem that the project will address, sets the preferred mode of communication–by phone, email or Skype, etc, length and deadline of the project, includes an overview and scope of the project, and much more. Have chat rooms for team members working in different time zones to come back to and read logs.
Remember, if it is a core task, do it yourself. Never outsource what is a crucial component of your business. By outsourcing only those small tasks that are time-consuming, you free up your time to focus on what you do best. The specific tasks an external contractor can provide you are based on your mutual agreement of services and payments to exchange. Focus on what is core to you. Double your own productivity by effectively delegating what is non-core.