Now, more than ever, companies are taking steps to outsource some or all of their daily operations to meet their business needs. This decision is not usually one a company takes lightly, and doing so depends on many factors.
While most outsourcing operations will not result in quite the culture shock as seen in the popular TV show “Outsourced,” there are some guidelines to keep in mind before a company opts to ‘reach out to the world,’ for help in their day-to-day business dealings.
To begin with, it may be important to note that not all outsourcing ventures require moving some or all operations overseas. Many opportunities for outsourcing exist in the United States and Canada, including candidates enrolled through ‘freelance’ websites.
These websites can offer a talented and qualified pool of applicants who can help take your business to the next level:
Elance: This site is the most active site for businesses and freelancers. This platform has more than 500,000 businesses and 2 million freelancers (stretched across nearly 150 countries).
Freelancer: This site specializes on freelance services that are more affordable (projects start at $30 and most assignments are typically $200 or less) for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
GetACoder: This site specializes on technical freelancers, such as programmers, coders, and software developers. Hirers also get a free guide on successful outsourcing.
Guru: This site is an extensive platform of freelancers with an emphasis on technical expertise, such as computer programmers and software developers.
iFreelance: This site doesn’t take out fees or get a percentage of the assignment. This site is run like a membership site where freelancers pay monthly membership fees.
Upwork (Previously oDesk): This site is one of the most active for outsourcing, and it contains experienced freelancers across many technical and nontechnical specialties.
Project4Hire: This website is very similar to Upwork and boasts a large database of local and international freelancers.
There are a lot of tools that can make it easier for you to manage your outsourced workforce. Here are just a few:
- A VoIP hosted PBX system – for routing your calls to/from your workforce.
- Collaboration and File Sharing programs – Central Desktop, Backpack, Sharepoint, or HyperOffice.
- Chat software – to keep in touch with your telecommuters at all times and enables them to take chats from your website if you offer that: LivePerson, HelponClick, Bold Chat.
When it comes to making the decision to outsource some or all of your business operations, it may be important to consider the following advantages of outsourcing:
Outsourcing eliminates the need to purchase expensive computer systems, hardware and software, and other items that will be used and abused by employees, and require constant replacement. With limited or no employee presence in an office setting, expenses such as lighting, heating/cooling, and so on are eliminated. Outsourcing prevents the need for payment of high salaries, benefits, bonuses, worker’s compensation insurance, etc.
Ease of Working Environment
Your outsourced employees will have their own private access to computers and other tools necessary to complete their work.Online monitoring systems allow employers to be assured as to the efficiency of their contracted employees, while offering workers flexible hours by which to meet their deadlines.Additionally, online monitoring often encourages employees to remain on task. Unlike a ‘traditional’ office setting, online monitoring eliminates the possibility of employees ‘falling asleep at the switch.’Employees who take advantage of the ease of working with a VoIP hosted PBX small business phone system do not have to depend on a dedicated business line, or the sometimes unpredictable nature of cell phone service.
Short-term contracts all but prevent the possibility of an employee becoming ‘burned out,’ or a company experiencing rapid turnover, since most employees are able to remain focused and on-task through shorter assignments. Most contractors do not require a great deal of training, and are usually able to take on detailed tasks with little direction.Hiring a group of dedicated contractors across many time zones could easily turn your business into a 24-hour operation.
Broader Candidate Base
Outsourcing often results in companies’ ability to gather a diverse cross-section of individuals with a variety of skills.Without the limitation of having to pull candidates from a certain geographic location, companies are able to select from a wider pool of potential employees.Foreign and out-of-area workers may be able to relate well to a certain culture or group of people, which can expand your business’ reach, with minimal effort on your part.
The Cons to Outsourcing
Managing Freelancers Can Be Time Consuming
It can be difficult to manage your employees if they are not working in the same office space. You generally cannot see them and they could very well be goofing off all day and charging you for it. But with tools offered at sites like Upwork, you actually get ‘screen shots’ of freelancers computer screen while they are ‘on the clock’ so you can at least see what they are working on.
If you want to be able to communicate with your freelancers, only hire freelancers who live in your time zone. This is very important to remember since you won’t be able to Skype with someone who is asleep when you are at work.
You Might Have to Kiss a Few Frogs
Since the interview process can be difficult, you might find yourself hiring some ‘duds’ before you find the exact right fit. Just be flexible and know that if it doesn’t work out, you can easily cancel the contract if you set it up that way in the first place.
Many companies are seeing the benefits of outsourcing. You might want to setup a trial first to see if your company is a good match for outsourcing. If it works, you could save your company some money and help your employees be more productive.