May 27, 2012 Computers
Outsourcing, simply put, is paying someone who is not an in house employee of your company to perform certain tasks for your company. Ordinarily, you would have these matters handled in house, but outsourcing takes this burden off your immediate staff. It is a notion that has been popularized in recent years because it frees up employees to attend to more pressing or more complicated tasks while an outside contractor takes care of the simpler ones, the ones that can be passed on without a drop in quality.
Financially, outsourcing often makes sense. If you could pay an outside source to take care of tasks for less money and they can do it just as well, or better, as you could do in your own company, then that is the bottom line. With the smaller details taken care of, management can devote their attention to larger issues. An experienced outsourcing service can raise their services to an art form because they might focus primarily on performing that small subset of services. They may even have more advanced methods, computer programs, and equipment that a smaller business may not be able to afford to buy on its own.
Some of the areas targeted in outsourcing are answering calls, receiving emails, and handling payroll duties. Removing the responsibility for these functions can free up time and money that can be better used to improve the company’s overall growth. The reasons for outsourcing soon become clear.
There may be some drawbacks. Because these issues are not handled in house, there is an increased distance between a company and their clients. This can lead to the degradation or initial lack of business relationships that is the hallmark of many a successful business. There is always a risk when using outside contractors because delays can happen. If they do, the measure of control that can be extended over the issue is less than what it would be were you dealing with your own employees in house. If there were a problem with an outsourcing service then that in itself could be a problem. Because they can handle so much work, if they are deemed unable to handle the workload suddenly or cannot continue as your outsource service for any reason then you could be left in the lurch. A large amount of work would fall back on your shoulders until you could find another new outsourcing service.
What To Outsource
Choosing what to outsource can take some thought. You will want to consider if any sensitive information will be necessary to share as you share the workload. No doubt some sensitive information will be so you need an outsourcing service you can trust and a means to prevent the spread of any private information.
What to outsource can be a matter of what can be done just as well somewhere else. Usually, answering phones, emails, and payroll are fairly standardized tasks that can be performed at the same level of efficiency and at the same level of quality somewhere else. You will want to consider outsourcing anything that does not necessitate the personal attention of your in house employees. Take a look at how each of these might work.
This is one of the basic tasks that can be outsourced rather easily. Like any other task, it will require training for the employees of the outsourcing service, but it is an easy way to take the burden of customer service duties off of the in house employees of your company. By diverting these calls, which are often rather repetitive in nature, to the outsourcing service, you free up in house employees to tasks that make better use of their talents.
This can be even easier to outsource. This medium allows the outsourcing employees time to research and appropriately and thoroughly answer customer service questions. These, too, are often highly repetitive in nature. Having an in house employee who is capable of handling more diverse and difficult matters tend to these email questions is often a waste of resources. Outsourcing makes perfect sense in these cases.
Payroll services are quite standardized and can be performed just as well by an outsourcing service as it could be by anyone in house. Instead of employing an entire department to handle your payroll needs, you can send the work away and have it handled by an offshore service. This can be cheaper much of the time, and that possibility is a good reason to look into this option.
An outsourcing service may feel the need to send someone from their service to evaluate your outsourcing needs. This can include the amount of work, the deadlines involved, and the quality controls. If you are paying a service to handle your calls, you want to make sure that this service is kind, courteous, helpful, and reachable. If you try to call your own service at times when you should be able to and have difficulties then you know it is time to have a talk with your outsourcing service or to switch services altogether. They have become a part of the public face of your company and you need to make sure that you are being well represented. Outsourcing services may require a level of monitoring to ensure proper handling of duties, but it can be worth it for the weight that they take off your shoulders.
Access To Outsourcing Help
Once you have an idea of the possibility of outsourcing for your needs, you will need to examine how feasible the idea is. You will want to look at this from both the financial standpoint and the effectiveness standpoint. Outsourcing can be a big help to businesses but only if it is done right. If not, you may be shifting work around without creating circumstances that are any better than the ones you started with. You need a clear plan of how outsourcing is going to improve your business structure. Do not just think of pushing the work off on someone else. Think of it as creating a whole new way of running your business.
The price should definitely not be the bottom line when you are looking for an outsourcing service. Prices vary according to a variety of factors. They depend on the size of the company, the amount of Western staff, the
nature of the work being outsourced, and if the service has an office in North America. You do not want to pay through the nose and defeat the entire purpose of outsourcing, but you do not want to just go for the cheapest services either. If they are unable to perform services adequately then that could impair relations between your clients and your company. It may also raise problems when it comes to meeting deadlines and completing other work to your specifications. All outsourcing companies are not the same so doing all the research and asking the right questions is crucial.
You get what you pay for. Less pay can mean staff that are not as well trained, a higher turnover rate for staff, or a company that will not be able to stay in business. If this happens, then you too will have to start all over.
Another thing you have to realize about access to outsourcing is that in many cases, the transition is not instant. You do not hire a service and then they start handling all your calls and emails the next day. Their employees have to be trained in proper protocol as you specify it. They have to be able to answer the questions that your customers will ask and perform any tasks that you require of them. This sort of training takes time so the gap between hiring an outsourcing service and shifting the workload entirely to that service may be a little larger than you think.
There will be an adjustment period. Mistakes are bound to happen in the beginning so expect them. Managing them, correcting them, and minimizing them can be done through clarity of instruction and clear feedback. You do not want to sabotage the relationship that you have with your new service because of some initial foibles. They are going to happen anyway.
You will want to know who is in charge of quality assurance for the services that they are providing for you. You want to make sure that the standards match your own and are being monitored and maintained. The more you know about how your affairs are being handled, the more you can offer your input to see to it that all involved have the same ideas of excellence.
One option is monitoring calls from your home office. This is one quality assurance measure that can be performed without travelling to the actual outsourcing centre. It also informs the service that you are aware of their actions and will be checking in to make sure that calls are being handled properly at all times.
Some calls cannot be resolved offsite. They can be redirected back to your actual office if necessary. This is a good way to ensure that all calls are handled to the customer’s satisfaction. You want your offshore service to be able to shoulder as much of the responsibility as possible because that is what they are there for, but leaving the option of transferring calls back to the main office will allow for higher customer satisfaction.
A crucial aspect of this process is regular communication between your company and the outsourcing service. Checking in daily or requiring daily reports will ensure that you are kept apprised of any new developments or the lack thereof. Without these constant reports, you fall out of touch with what is now a possibly substantial part of your business. Detailed reports are essential. You want to know exactly what is going on at all times. You will want to know the volume of calls and emails and how they are being handled. You will want to implement quality assurance procedures.
Speaking of procedures, what if something goes wrong? Does your outsourcing service have a plan ready to go if something happens? Make sure that they do, and make sure that you know exactly what it is. An improperly handled problem can give your business a poor reputation very quickly. Make sure that this plan is spelled out, that it is in place, and that your outsourcing service has the ability to carry it out if the need arises.
Procedures change. The business world is not static, and neither are your needs. Will the company that you choose be able to adapt to the changing needs of your business? From growth to changes in format, you will want the service you choose to be able to keep up with the demands of the field you are in. Again, realize that there will be a transition period whenever you make major changes. It is an adjustment for everyone. You want to clearly correct and mistakes, but you want to do so as amicably as possible. Maintaining a good working relationship will make any transitions go more smoothly.
From their end, you will want to be informed in advance of any changes that could impact the services that you receive. This could be disastrous if you have a high volume of calls and emails being handled by a service that, for some reason, is suddenly unable to complete its duties. It is an unfortunate circumstance and you want to know that, if that happens, that you will be informed as soon as possible.
Payment to outsourcing services varies from situation to situation but here are some generalities. Most services work on advance payments. You pay anywhere from fifteen to thirty days in advance for their services. This is not set in stone. Some services require this advance payment schedule, and some do not. It is something that you should keep in mind as you plan to handle the financing for your outsourcing efforts. You may have to pay a great deal in advance.
Outsourcing is a means of transforming your business through intelligent delegation. There are many things to consider as there would be with any other major change. The important thing is to look at the potential benefits and drawbacks from every angle before you commit to a decision.