Outsourcing, put simply, is sending certain tasks to a team or person outside of your organization to complete. Here we aim to offer some guidance and answer many of your outsourcing questions.
By the end of this blog, you should have a pretty good idea of what processes you need to establish, how to prep your on-site team, tips for managing outsourced workers, what challenges you might face, and where you can find further information to outsource efficiently.
This may mean sending certain tasks to a team or team member in another country. But whether you outsource in the U.S. or overseas, doing it effectively and in a way that truly takes work off your shoulders requires the same basic skills.
If you've identified tasks within your local teams that are:
Then outsourcing could be the option for you.
A good outsourcing partner will set your team up with the hardware they need, like a computer with an internet connection. But they won't dictate the software, tools, and technologies that your team can use. You should have complete control over that, and since your remote team relies heavily on digital access, this is a key component to a good setup.
Usually, your virtual team will use the same software and tools you do. You just need to provide them with the licenses or access to get started.
The main thing is that you're using the technology to help your team quickly and securely access the information they need, and do what they need to do, no matter where they're located.
High-speed internet has made businesses and employees more connected than ever before, especially for teams that work remotely. The introduction of cloud computing simply adds to this. This means using an integrated outsourced team is easier than ever before. And innovative tech companies are developing new solutions all the time, so it's only going to get easier.
So, where can you start with systemizing your business? It really comes down to knowledge: getting it out of your head and into a format your team can use. Here are a few tips for getting started.
Document everything you do in your business - and how you do it. Documenting your processes will help you see more clearly which tasks in your business can be delegated to outsourced employees and which ones can't be (the ones that are difficult to systemize and predict). Here are some typical starting points for documentation:
Next, you'll need to organize this information to make sense to someone new to your business. You might use the following formats to organize your data:
Essentially, you're building a how-to manual that shows your team exactly how to do any of your regular, recurring business tasks.
Finally, put all of this information into a process library that's accessible to your employees via either your cloud storage, your project management system, or your password-protected online hub. And make sure it's easy for people to find the exact information they want. Ideally, a search function is beneficial, but at the very least, structure the information logically (e.g., by the department, then task).
It's also imperative to communicate your plans with your team. Your approach to this will depend on their position in your business and their openness to change. But here are a few suggestions for how you can help them feel comfortable, even excited, about adding a remote team:
Above all, try to be transparent with your team. Try to look at things from their perspective. They might have heard negative things about outsourcing (there are a lot of unfounded myths out there), and they'll need your reassurance. So talk to them, listen to their concerns and views and be prepared to answer their questions. Once they see the benefits and understand what's involved, they'll likely be keen to get involved and help out.
Every outsource partner is different. So, before you begin a long-term relationship with one, it's vital that you know exactly what they offer and whether they're an ideal match for your business. Just because an outsourcing provider is right for one business doesn't necessarily mean it is right for another. Here are some key elements to consider:
Overseas labor costs mean offshoring has the potential to save your business a significant amount of money, but labor costs aren't the only cost consideration. Your offshore partner choice will make a big difference to your bottom line because they don't all offer the same savings, inclusions, and setup.
Every offshore provider has its own unique approach to fees. The main differences in fee structures are what you pay for, how much it costs, and how often you pay.
Before signing up with an offshore partner, it's critical to determine exactly what they include and how the fee is broken down. That way, you don't end up with any unexpected costs. And just as importantly, you'll know your staff are getting a fair wage.
When comparing outsourced partners, we recommend exploring their recruitment process. Find out how they source talent, whether they have an existing database of qualified applicants, how quickly they can fill roles, and how involved you need to be in the hiring process.
You would want your provider to recruit candidates in the same way you would locally, so make sure that the steps and processes you take to recruit are communicated or already exist with your chosen provider.
Your partner should provide internet access, computers, a desk, and a chair in a clean, comfortable, and professional work environment. It’s also important to ensure they provide a supportive and motivating workplace environment for their staff. This includes fair remuneration, reward and recognition programs, and employee engagement activities.
But these are really just the basics. It's important to also ask about the ongoing support you're entitled to for your staff. To succeed with virtual teams, you really need your partner to be a black belt in operations.
When choosing your outsourcing partner, you want to ensure they'll deliver consistently good outcomes for your business. How will you know if they can do this? Analyze their infrastructure, tech, equipment, and their internal management structure. Ask them questions about:
When you're comparing your options, we also recommend that you clarify what you're responsible for and what your partner is responsible for. This will extend to the recruitment process, the infrastructure, reporting structures, and how your virtual team will spend their time.
To gauge the stability of your service provider, ask them:
Your virtual employees are not 'out of sight, out of mind.' Your remote teams are real people and a genuine part of your team, just like your on-site staff. Treat them as valued team members and you'll get the best outcomes.
Simple things like communicating daily, helping them live and breathe your company cultures and values and engaging with them as you would your local team with end-of-month events or including them in your staff engagement activities.
Outsourcing requires significant time investment - upfront and ongoing. All the points mentioned throughout this blog show how much time and money goes into setting up your virtual team. The up-front investment may be significant, but with outsourcing saving many around 70% in employment costs, long-term, it's often worth it.
If your staff doesn't have the resources they need, they'll be less productive and feel like you don't understand or value them, which will reduce morale and loyalty and potentially increase staff turnover rates.
Consider the resources your local employees need to get their job done well and ensure that your remote team has gained access to those resources.
Plan and ask yourself these questions to ensure staff can continue providing services in a nearby location with minimal disruption when disaster strikes:
Take the leap. There's nothing quite like actually delegating tasks and responsibilities to virtual teams, getting that real-life experience, and putting everything you've learned into practice - even if you start with just one role.