The beautiful thing about technology today is the ability to work with anyone, anywhere. Outsourcing and “Elancing” (online freelancing) are a great cost-effective way to fill a position that you may not need to physically have in your office. According to Forbes, the top outsourced and elanced jobs for 2014 will be IT and Computer Support, Customer Service, Business Consulting, Accounting, Graphic Design, Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing.
There are many small business owners who make the mistake of thinking they need to host a position in-house, when they should really be outsourcing the work. Just because you CAN do something in-house doesn’t mean that you should.
Now of course, you can’t outsource everything, but there are some signs to look for that will tell you if you should outsource a position.
1. The work required it outside your company’s purpose
If the task or project is not related to what your company actually does, it is definitely better to outsource or elance the position. For example, if you run a construction company and your core competency is on construction related tasks, then you can probably outsource a top marketing firm or freelancer to help get your name out. If you have a toilet manufacturing company and your main focus is on manufacturing tasks, then you should probably outsource your IT needs.
2. The work needed lies outside your knowledge
Accounting, marketing and customer relations are all critical functions that every business needs. There are many offices that have mixed positions where their office assistant or human resource person will also be handling these types of functions. Often, this person knows nothing about what they are doing outside their main job! While this strategy may work for some companies, I have found that it almost always leads to these lower-level but necessary tasks getting delayed or even worse ignored. It is usually better to allow your employee to focus only on what pertains to their position and hire outside expert help for the rest. This will not only help your employee focus on what they need to, but will keep all lower-level tasks completed on a consistent basis.
3. The work required is not full time work
This is probably the MOST ignored but obvious sign that you should be outsourcing. Many positions – particularly graphic design, journalism, IT, PR and marketing positions are not typical and often don’t fill out a typical 8 hour work day. Also, these types of positions require continuous learning, outside networking and flexibility that being in an office simply cannot provide. There have been many times I have been working full-time in an office and completed a day’s work or more 5 hours or less, only to be stuck in the office for the rest of the day. Also I found that companies will miss important opportunities because their employee is stuck at a desk or restricted online. This is especially common in PR and marketing positions where being able to immediately react is key to success. What ends up happening? A) You don’t get the results you were looking for B) You end up giving your employee other tasks to do outside the position you hire them for (which will probably make them unhappy) or C) You have an employee who is bored with the job becomes distracted or distracting. At the end of it all, you wasted valuable company time and money when you could have outsourced for less.
4. The position does not relate directly to the rest of the staff
If you are hiring someone for a position that is a one person department, you should consider outsourcing. People in solo departments often end up feeling disconnected from their co-workers, plus by hiring a company or freelancer to fill the position you can save money and have an entire team of people working for you instead of just one person.
5. Someone else can do it cheaper
Cheap labor is definitely the main selling point for outsourcing. Most consulting firms are experienced in managing various clients in a variety of situations and can execute tasks better all at a lower cost. Hiring an outside firm or freelancer to handle your lower-level task like accounting, IT and marketing means there is no need to build an infrastructure for that within your own company saving you valuable time and money.
6. You need the flexibility
The advantage of outsourcing is that you can adjust services based on your current needs. It is usually difficult for companies to place staff or hire skilled workers internally for short periods of time. If you do a higher volume of business during a certain time of the year, you can use an outsourced company to fill your needs until business slows down.
When done right, outsourcing or freelancing can be money-saving and profitable for your business. When looking for a person or company to fill this type of position, make sure you look at their experience with businesses who’s needs are similar to yours. Also, credibility is important. Make sure they have a proven track record, work samples and good references to share with you. Finally, figure out what makes them different from their competitors and why their service will work for you.
Again, not every job can be outsourced, positions that require strategic leadership or sales positions should always be kept in-house. Only you know what’s best for your business and company culture, so stay alert to what goes on within your organization and keep your options open.
Top outsourced and elanced jobs: IT and Computer Support, Customer Service, Business Consulting, Accounting, Graphic Design, Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing.