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Should Your Company Outsource?

You’re a small business owner and you’re swamped. There are tasks that would benefit greatly from being outsourced, but outsourcing is only for large companies, right? Wrong! The following article by Joanna Swash, Commercial Director at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny, discusses why outsourcing may be just what your company needs.

In or out?: When is the right time to outsource staff?

Not too long ago, outsource was a ‘dirty’ word for many businesses. Often based on a lack of knowledge and difficulty in understanding how it would actually work in practice. Today the landscape has evolved and pretty much everything can be outsourced. From telephone answering and HR to IT, marketing and website development, advances in technology have made it easier than ever.

So should I outsource? Outsourcing can be an excellent tool to make your business more successful, profitable and sustainable and could also offer benefits you might not be able to achieve in-house. As a general rule of thumb, the most commonly outsourced jobs tend to fall within the business process operational category.

It’s not, contrary to popular belief, just a strategy reserved for big businesses either.

Back in 2000 Moneypenny was founded in recognition of the needs of smaller businesses who were struggling to answer all their phone calls and to this day SMEs represent our largest client group. So why might you, as a business owner choose to outsource? Perhaps you’re finding yourself lost in admin or drowning in a sea of paperwork? You only have a finite amount of time and it’s simply not possible for you to do everything. Outsourcing can help shift the focus of your daily tasks away from the mundane and free you up to do the work that actually makes you money. Many of the most successful of business people recognize this early on and get help accordingly.

Of course you could at this point choose to take on a permanent member of staff. Doing so can offer a number of benefits. However, it will more likely prove more expensive and for some sole traders the reality is that you may prefer working alone. The Federation of Small Businesses recently estimated that a business with one employee and one owner faces an average employment cost of £35,000 per worker so it’s down to you to examine what you need and balance this against expenditure and business value.

Another scenario could be that you’ve realized you need support at different times to cover the peaks and troughs of business activity, staff absences and holidays or emergency scenarios and your existing in-house staff just can’t provide the flexible help you need. If so, the weeks it would take to hire the right people and train them up might mean that an outsourced solution looks more likely to make for a good fit. The same applies to short or one-off jobs, like having a logo created or a website designed.

Alternatively, it could be cost alone that’s the driving factor to outsource. By outsourcing you can help release capital elsewhere in the business, therefore avoiding large expenditures in the early days of your business which can be particularly appealing. Never compromise on quality though. Only engage with an outsourced partner you are confident will add value, quality and tried and trusted professionalism to your business. You don’t have time to waste on poor providers and to be the best you need the best people around you.

The recession and hiatus on hiring has produced an oversupply of specialist workers who are offering their services outside of established organizations, thereby presenting small businesses with the opportunity to access highly skilled providers.

But don’t be tripped up when outsourcing. Enter your new relationship with confidence and in the full knowledge you are making the right decision for your business. Failure to prepare any in-house staff for the change is one of the most common errors that companies make. To ensure a successful and lasting outsourcing engagement, any in-house staff members need to be on board. Talk to them, ask for their thoughts and concerns; explain how, when and why outsourcing has been determined as the solution; prepare them for the transition and any associated issues likely to arise.

Quality and a strong cultural alignment have to be primary considerations too. Only engage with an outsourced partner with an ethos similar to your own; someone you can trust in the same way you would only hire a person you feel comfortable with and you know will fit in. So to the million-dollar question – how do you decide if outsourcing is the right decision for you? Start by weighing up the impact of outsourcing on your bottom line and on your day-to-day operation alongside the service that your customers will receive, and whether it will make your business more productive. These are the cornerstones of any business and should form the foundations of your decision. The differences in service, ability and attitude should be key indicators alongside any price considerations.

Before engaging, do your homework. Ask if the provider can put you in touch with a few of their clients who would be happy to discuss their experience, for instance. You might have been impressed by the sales team but they ultimately aren’t the ones that you or your customers will be dealing with on a daily basis.

The right provider for you will be one that `fits’ best and reflects your ethos and culture. Think of them as an extension of your company; an extra internal department. They need to understand every aspect of your business, how things work and how the people operate.

While outsourcing isn’t for every company and every eventuality, it is most certainly an increasingly attractive avenue for many businesses and one that should be explored.

Note: The original article is no longer available on the Talk Business website, where it originally appeared.

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