What is outsourcing
At its most basic, outsourcing refers to assigning some of your business operations to another organization. This organization may be local, or it may be overseas. If the organization is located within the same country, it is called onshoring, while working with an international organization is called offshoring. The organization may also be a large corporation or a single independent contractor.
What are the benefits of outsourcing
There are many reasons you may choose to outsource part of your business operations. The top reasons include:
- Saving money. Rather than paying the salaries of your own staff and providing extensive training, you can often hire an organization that specializes in this type of work and charges a lower rate. This is especially true if you don’t require full-time work year-round.
- Logistics. If you require specialized manufacturing or product development but don’t have the expensive equipment to do so, it’s often easier to outsource.
- Make the most of work hours. Outsourcing to another time zone means some of the work will be done outside of your local hours, meaning more work gets done in less time.
- Work with specialists. For small businesses especially, it’s not feasible to hire marketing specialists, graphic designers, accountants, and customer service representatives. By outsourcing these services, you can leave the work to the professionals without going over budget.
Which areas of my business can I outsource
You can outsource essentially every area of your business, but the most popular include accounting, marketing, IT, customer service, and manufacturing.
If you’re not a trained accountant or bookkeeper, choosing to do all the finances for your business can be risky. If something falls through the cracks, you could miss important deadlines, or worse – unintentionally break the law. By outsourcing your accounting, you’ll have an expert to carry out all your bookkeeping without breaking the bank by paying for a full-time in-house employee.
A bookkeeper will take charge of the day-to-day finances of the business, such as accounts payable and receivable, reconciliation, payroll, and budgeting. An accountant will assist you with quarterly and annual taxes, ensure you’re complying with the law, and help you identify areas where you can cut back or make more money. Thus, you’ll only need an accountant a few times a year, making them the perfect choice for outsourcing.
If you’re a small team, your in-house marketing professional is likely responsible for many duties. Marketing itself has many layers and includes both digital and print marketing. To effectively market your business, you need an entire marketing team with extensive experience in the industry. Most companies cannot afford to pay a whole in-house team, making outsourcing the most feasible option.
An outsourced marketing company is also trained to analyze its clients’ businesses from an outside perspective. This fresh set of eyes allows them to identify areas of growth that may not have been immediately obvious to you.
In addition to the cost savings that come with outsourcing IT services, an essential benefit is undoubtedly the increased security that comes with it. Unfortunately, cyber-attacks are becoming more and more frequent each year, and they’re becoming more sophisticated. It takes just one hole in your IT security infrastructure to become vulnerable to a data breach, which can severely compromise customer trust and loyalty.
Outsourcing IT services also allow you to get the best SEO results for your business. With so many customers searching the internet for products and services in their area, your business must appear on the first page. An IT company that specializes in SEO will improve your visibility to new clients.
Many business owners are reluctant to outsource their customer service, as they know its importance to their success. However, if you have a small administrative team, outsourcing customer service can free up their time to spend more on other tasks. An overwhelmed administration team is unlikely to deliver the best customer service.
An outsourced customer service team, such as Ivy Answer, is likely to have a global office that can answer calls after hours, 24/7. If you have a client base outside of your local area, this may be an essential consideration. You’ll provide the agency with information about your business so that they’re well prepared to answer questions, and calls and voicemails can be forwarded to your office.
If your business involves product manufacturing, you’re likely to need to outsource at least some of your production rather than doing it all in-house. The cost of investing in the required machinery and technology to manufacture your products yourself could mean that you don’t make profits for years. The equipment also requires regular maintenance, making this an ongoing expense.
Outsourcing your manufacturing also allows your in-house team to focus on design and engineering, resulting in more innovation. This leaves the experts with specialized equipment, quality and safety standards training, and extensive experience.
Is outsourcing ethical
One of the reasons outsourcing- especially offshoring – is so much more affordable for businesses is that outsourced companies pay their employees less. Unfortunately, outsourcing has become associated with sweatshops, where adults (and sometimes children) are paid below the living wage and work in deplorable conditions.
Outsourcing can be ethical, and every business has the responsibility to ensure that the companies they work with follow employment standards. The best way to determine whether this is the case is to visit the company yourself, but if this isn’t an option for you, asking around for references is also a good idea. Make sure you question the company about their practices before agreeing to work with them.
Outsourcing to a company within your borders also increases the likelihood that you’ll be working with a company compliant with local employment rules and regulations. So, though you may not save as much as you would by offshoring, you can feel confident that your business is thriving without coming at a cost to others.