When you’re first beginning to consider outsourcing for your business, it’s almost impossible not to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available. That’s not necessarily bad — outsourcing offers a very wide spectrum of flexible solutions that any company looking to save time, money, and resources can find one that works right for them.
But in the meantime, there’s a lot to decide: what will you move offshore and which geographic location works best for your needs? What size team do you need and how will you manage them from afar? Will you work with a provider and how do you know if they're any good?
It can definitely be challenging to zoom in on precisely what you need, it just doesn’t have to be. In a guest post published earlier this week on Business.com, the CEO of Personiv — David Lesniak, narrows the process down to five clear, actionable steps for companies looking to leverage outsourcing for growth and savings.
Thinking of Outsourcing? Start by Asking 'What?' and 'Why?'
Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re at least a little familiar with the benefits of outsourcing. There are substantial savings to be had, and that’s certainly a legitimate reason to move some portion of your business’ workload out-of-house, it’s just not the only one. By pulling your attention away from necessary but essentially zero-sum tasks, you’re free to focus on the tasks and items that will add value or spur growth.
Back office tasks like data entry and general administrative support are great examples, along with routine accounting processes like bookkeeping and accounts payable and receivable. Without them, you couldn’t stay in business, but they don’t add value to your company's output.
Take stock of what you are spending time on: is it necessary? Does it contribute to growth, move you closer to a specific goal or allow you to serve your clients in newer, better ways? What resources do those tasks require in terms of time, money and human capital? As a rule, Lesniak says that “the most successful tasks to outsource are low-impact and repeatable but which consume a lot of time and resources.” Find these tasks, and you've answered the "what?" of outsourcing.
Lesniak goes on to explain the "why" of it:
“Imagine that a business wants to open another location, add a product line, recruit a top executive or revamp its online presence. These initiatives take significant investments of time and energy, but if decision-makers also have to worry about routine tasks, they will only be distracted from opportunities to grow their businesses.”
Most importantly, effective outsourcing allows businesses to direct their focus outward — on quality, client experience, growth and innovation — instead of inward, on spreadsheet management, accounts payable and administrative busywork. Anything that takes time and money also represents the utilization of human resources. Hiring, training, and retaining people you can trust to be competent and turn out quality work is expensive and taxing on tight schedules in its own right. That’s where a partnership with an experienced and dedicated BPO provider comes into play.
But, cautions Lesniak, “Without the proper preparation on your end or a surefire vetting process, you could end up with a failed partnership.”
Your Outsourcing Strategy Should Include These 5 Steps
Lesniak distills the preparation process down to five essential steps:
- Set clear efficiency goals - go into outsourcing with a specific endgame in mind.
- Plan for change - as with any transition, it’s best to anticipate the effect this change will have beforehand.
- Pick the right partner - engage in one-on-one conversations with provider candidates.
- Define success yourself - Compare KPIs with potential partners to see if your priorities align.
- Test the waters - a quality BPO provider will leap at the chance to show you what it’s made of.
Lesniak drills deeper down into each step along the way, breaking the process of choosing and partnering with an outsourcing provider down into clear, actionable steps to take on a much clearer path to leaner operations.
Read Lesniak’s full thoughts in his piece, Grow Your Small Business by Outsourcing Business Processes over on Business.com to learn more.