How do I start outsourcing business tasks?
I have no idea where to start outsourcing business tasks. What do I look for in an outsourcing professional? How do I know which tasks I should be outsourcing? When should I start outsourcing? Help!
You want to outsources tasks that take you out of revenue generation mode.
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Lynn, While I do agree with Ellen's answer. You need to define more clearly why you are looking to outsource a function. Is it because you need more time, as Ellen elude. Or, is it because you don't know how to do the function. Be careful if you don't know how to do it! You need have some sense of what to expect from the vendor which you are outsourcing or you can get taken to the cleaners and not accomplish your desired outcome. Here is an blog post that may provide some insight on what to do to begin getting ready to outsource something: http://yoursmallbusinessgrowth.com/2012/11/3-elements-that-makes-outsourcing-work/
I hope this was helpful. - Dino Eliadis
As noted by others, one of the first questions to define is what your organisation is doing that would be better served by people outside your firm. Some of the key issues where it is often better to employ external expertise is in HR, order processing (some functions), IT service and maintenance, and some accounting functions, etc., etc. In a small organisation, this is better known as hiring expertise for things not within the abilities of people already on staff. In larger organisations, it is often used to bring in a level of control and planned expertise that is not permanent, but needed. Cost, while often cited by many as a rationale, should not be as the delivery of the proper level of service is far more important to maintaining customer and internal delivery levels than just cost - though it is a factor that must be considered.
Using a specialist consulting service to intermediate in establishing a sourcing relationship is a wise idea at a certain level of departmental expense, but not for aggregate annual costs of less than a few million or so (a very crude rule of thumb).
In short, it all depends on what needs to be sourced, why, and the sizing on the work to be accomplished. You can source almost anything and everything done by the business, except those things critical to your core values and services, i.e., those things that differentiate you from everyone else. Often sourcing is used simply to forgo the employment of people not necessarily needed on a long term basis and/or to use a critical expertise that is not otherwise valued in the business processes.
Often, unless you are being led by people (consultants) intimately familiar with the area being sourced and the variety of "players" therein, you will need to do a good bit of research and send out "requests for information" to see even if those deemed able to do the work are interested in it.
There is a lot more, but I hope this answers some of your questions. It would help to answer if we had a bit more context, please.
Lynn great questions. You should look for skills that compliment your business. You may not have one outsourcing professional. You may want several that cover various aspects of your business.
Take a week and make a list of items that you really don't want to be doing. This is a great place to start as they target your pain points.
You should start outsourcing when those tasks are hindering the growth of your business.
I offer a free consultation and would be happy to speak with you and help you develop a plan.
To your business success!
The first rule of outsourcing is to remember that you can outsource the work, but never the responsibility. Since your question does not provides a lot of background about the specific business here are some general rules:
a) Never outsource your core competency. Example if your business is a hair saloon, you cannot simply send your customers to another saloon to get their haircut.. It seem simple but many people don't understand what their core competency is (doing the actual work, or just selling the work of others).
b) What do you look for: Someone who can do the job better and/or at a lower cost than you can do it yourself.
c) Which tasks to outsource: Combination of "a" and "b"
d) When should I start outsourcing: As soon as it is economically feasible.. Basically if you can make more $$ by outsourcing than by doing it yourself, then that's the moment to outsource.
Hope this helps
Hi Lynn, outsource only those processes that are NOT core to what makes you different from your competitors. But be careful...
When you outsource, make sure you have a business continuity plan for when the external service provider is having a bad day.
I've seen small business owners held to randsom by their ecommerce website developers - they have the power to shut your business down by disconnecting your primary income channel (your website)!
Always know where they live. Make sure if need be you can drive there (make sure they're in the same country as you). Always have some form of leverage such as an SLA (Service Level Agreement) contract that dissuades them from unprofessional conduct.
The other option to outsourcing is to have customized software created to perform specific tasks in your business.
For instance, I specialize in using VBA to extend the capabilities of MS EXcel and Access, for instance. What this means is that because these two very widely used and trusted programs are already quite sophisticated, we save time just using them as platforms rather than having to rebuild the wheel every time we work on a new project.
What a lot of people don't realize is that it is possible to build fully functional and robust stand alone applications using these platforms that look and feel like any other specialized software you buy off the shelf and out of the box.
I have built a substantial number of such applications that range from replacing simple daily and time consuming tasks, to entire MRP, Pricing and Management systems.
The main advantages of doing this is that firstly, you retain control of all your precious commercial data, instead of entrusting it to anyone else. Secondly, you save time when you automate. The best result I have been able to achieve is reducing the processing time for all replenishment orders for a major organisation from 56 manhours per day, down to just 2! Thirdly, you save money as well, because instead of paying someone a weekly wage or whatever to perform repetitive and simple tasks, customized systems will normally pay themselves off in a few weeks to months (depending on the task being automated), and then increase your profits because they won't be a constant drain on your cash flow.
So, if there is any way I can be of assistance, feel free to get in touch.
With more web- or cloud-based services evolving, one can outsource almost any business task. I recommend outsourcing tasks that someone else can do better than you and that can be done in a cost-effective manor. Any tasks that are critical to your business are typically best kept internal. Which tasks to outsource really depend on (1) your business, (2) your budget, (3) your interests in doing those tasks, and (4) your ability to perform such tasks.
There are numerous sites to find help in your business tasks. These include Freelancer, oDesk, Elance, Fiverr. For phones there are many options including Grasshopper, Virtual PBX, and many virtual office/assistant companies. If you need shipping automated, then there are several reputable dropshipping vendors. For legal help there's Rocketlawyer.
It seems your first step is to outline your business operations and list out the tasks that you currently perform. Then determine (1) which ones are critical and won't be outsourced, (2) which ones you actually like performing (may or may not want to outsource), and (3) which ones you'd rather have someone else do.
Start by being clear on your company goals and priorities. Then evaluate internal resources/skills available to accomplish our goals. This will give you a good sense of where you need help. I would then research people who can help (you can search our Experts to get started). I would schedule a few calls to ask about their experience, process, availability and pricing. I always start with discrete tasks whenever possible to evaluate their work. I generally perform the tasks first (or do a lot of research) so I can properly evaluate how well someone I hire is doing. For example, if you are hiring a sales person, try selling first so you know how long certain tasks take and what the success rate should be. This isn't always possible, but I have found it valuable for many outsourced tasks. Good luck.
Lynn, specific to your business "online shop for my knit apparel" following can be activities related with outsourcing
1) Designing and developing on online shop - graphic design, web design, payment gateway integration etc.
2) Maintaining online shops - Uploading new entries, managing blogs etc.
3) Customer support - Handling inquiries and providing support to customers (inbound and outbound)
4) logistics - delivering goods (apparels) to customers
I have just outlined important activities as a business model requirement. However all these outsourcing activities depends on business stage. Activities like marketing, purchase, accounts are not recommended for outsourcing, however you can outsource part of those activities keeping quality and strategic control in your hand ---- & also depending on business stage.
PS: If you need design related outsourcing support, feel free to connect with me - I have already provided branding and design support for few international clients.