Using Outsourcing to Maximise your Business

The important thing about outsourcing or global sourcing is that it becomes a very powerful tool to leverage talent, improve productivity and reduce work cycles”.Azim Premji

True every business owner would like to keep control over every process, function and every minor aspect of company and are even able to manage that for a while. However, as situations change, business expands and customer base grows, companies must stop trying to play the role of super-heroes – it’s just not feasible or sensible. There is a growing voice that is encourages using outsourcing to help businesses better manage day to day operations and those minor details that can be dealt with by a third party. Using outsourcing allows the key decision makers to focus on the more strategic and more important processes that are crucial to the success of any business. Using outsourcing boosts your business by increasing productivity and better management of time, energy and resources at your disposal.

Start at the beginning – that’s obvious right? Wrong. Most companies are either unsure of outsourcing or even if they decide to, using outsourcing seems cumbersome and complicated. That is why we say – start at the beginning – hire the right company to outsource to or hire the right skills and talent available. Ensure that at the hiring stage your company recruits people that not only have the right skills and knowledge but also great attitude. When you recruit the ‘right’ team you are assured of their support and diligence in everything that they do. Look for experience – people who may be experts in one or many different skills and realms of knowledge. Even a happy set of outsourced staff have the ability to spread your good reputation to others.

The advantage your company has in using outsourcing is that they don’t add headcount and other overheads on their own payroll and also remain free from the complexities of dealing with employee related issues for a set of people that they require only for a given set of tasks. Also if outsourced staff members are not performing well enough, they can easily be replaced by the outsourced agency with no hassle to your company in terms of employee issues, training, coaching and other related ‘expenses’ that come with regular employees.

How will a company and its leaders know when using outsourcing will be beneficial to them? It’s simple – when you seem overburdened and beaten with processes that are minute yet important and are taking up more time than they should leaving you unable to focus on the more crucial business aspects. The business will give you vital cues and clues letting you know that you are not being able to manage everything on your own in the time available and it is necessary to build an ‘outsourced team’. It is important to make an assessment of those functions or processes that are important and vital to the running of your business but are not the real money spinners. Using outsourcing for such functions is one of the best things you can do to maximise your business.

The good news is that there are many such places and agencies that can assist your company with its outsourcing needs. You could elicit suggestions and referrals from your employees, customers and other stakeholders. Let them know that your company is serious about using outsourcing and through their suggestions you would be able to find an outsourcing agency whose values and methodology closely matches those of your company. Apart from these resources you could also place advertisements on-line, in print media and over social media soliciting quotations based on the kind of jobs to be outsourced. Ensure that before finalizing the services of any outsourcing agency, someone responsible from your company looks up their history, gets referrals and makes a thorough background check on the agency to be outsourced too. Ask the agency for a list of customers and check back with these customers too.  Start by outsourcing only a small portion or a few tasks to ascertain the fit of the agency and also the benefits of using outsourcing – keep your investment in this process to the minimum. Using outsourcing, when used diligently and judiciously can be an extremely cost effective and an efficient method of managing a plethora of activities that would necessary for any company.

Is your company using outsourcing as a tool to maximise business and effectiveness? What are some of the functions in a company that can be safely and meritoriously outsourced? There would be some factors to ascertain before deciding which functions need to be outsourced and for how long. Such functions would include: those that are not the prime focus or business interest of your company and hence are not regular activities but are still fairly necessary and hiring someone permanently do manage them may not be cost effective;  better quality of work is available outside for a particular function and yet is cheaper than hiring someone full time; a function that needs improvement without raising the cost to the company and is required to support and enhance other functions in the company. Some of those areas include content writing, designing websites and social media sites, research and development, office administration and maintenance, shipping, customer service call centres and some others.

To be using outsourcing effectively requires that your company first makes an in-depth analysis of its own strengths and development areas and then quickly outsource those functions that are required but cannot be improved on within the framework of the company. It is also important to know how much your company is willing to invest into the outsourced function both in terms of time and money and how much effort and cost would be saved from the company’s perspective. As we said earlier, ensure that you hire the best agency to deal with your company’s outsourcing needs and never make the mistake of hiring some company only because they are cheaper – hire an agency reputed to be experts in the particular field. Ensure that the contract / agreement is transparent and no terms and conditions are left to assumptions or even ‘good faith’ – clarity on timelines, replacements, work standards, payment terms and even a mention of minimum service guarantee.

Lay down your company’s expectation clearly and specifically for the outsourcing agency, leaving no room for ambiguity. Encourage the provider to ask questions and clarify any doubts before beginning the service. Also before the commencement of the outsourcing project ensure that you put checks and milestones in place to be able to ascertain the efficacy of your decision to outsource – unless you monitor any project it is tough to determine whether it is working for your company or not. Also if you don’t check periodically, the outsourcing effort might just be a huge mistake and colossal waste of valuable resources. Provide constructive and regular feedback to the agency while using outsourcing – it would help them to work better and deliver on the guidelines and expectations your company has set for them. The most important aspect to remember while using outsourcing is being honest and transparent in your dealings and always keep the payment deadlines – you would need to understand that only when your company pays the agency, will the agency pay the people working for them. Your company’s reputation is also at stake and hence payments must be prompt and accurate.

When your company does its share of the groundwork before using outsourcing, you can be sure that you will be able to set up a system that will work efficiently and the people working on the project would be the best you can get to do the job. Using outsourcing for some parts of your business is a smart and effective way to conduct business and companies must seriously look at investing in this process.

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