Think long and hard about which operations are going to distinguish your company from the competition. These are, in theory, the operations that are best kept in house. In other words: if there’s something that you can do better than the competition, build the team you need to accomplish this on-site. Furthermore—as Entrepreneur magazine points out—never outsource a task simply because you don’t really like doing it. Some entrepreneurial chores just go with the territory.
Image Credit: repright.biz
And just to drive this point home, here’s another way of thinking of it. In every case that you can turn to a third party for a specialised service, your competitors can do the same. This doesn’t mean that they will—but it certainly doesn’t preclude the possibility either. Along those lines, outsourcing is best leveraged in situations where you need to streamline your own operations so that your team can focus on what they do best.
If your company is currently exploring alternatives, make sure to give plenty of consideration to the following five areas of expertise:
1. Website Development
Determining whether or not your website development should be handled in-house or out really comes down to the size and skills of your team. Bear in mind that possessing an art degree and knowing their way around Photoshop doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to create highly motivating marketing images. Likewise, strong communications skills don’t necessarily make for a talented copywriter. You’ll also need someone who knows how to turn design concepts into clean and efficient code. If you can find all of these in house, then in-house website development is going.
to save money without sacrificing on quality. Otherwise, be prepared to look for third-party consultants.
Determining whether or not your website development should be handled in-house or out really comes down to the size and skills of your team. Bear in mind that possessing an art degree and knowing their way around Photoshop doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to create highly motivating marketing images. Likewise, strong communications skills don’t necessarily make for a talented copywriter. You’ll also need someone who knows how to turn design concepts into clean and efficient code. If you can find all of these in house, then in-house website development is going to save money without sacrificing on quality. Otherwise, be prepared to look for third-party consultants.
2. Customer Service
This is an overarching area with a variety of applications. Customer service representatives assist with direct sales, customer enquiries, inventory management and a host of other essential operations. Some portion of the above will most certainly be handled by your in-house team. However, there are times (such as peak periods), when you may need to on-board additional staff to handle an influx of orders and enquiries.
For some companies, this means hiring temporary staff during holiday shopping periods. Hiring a temp agency to bring those staff on board may make more sense during a high-volume sales period. In other situations, the solution may involve chartering telephone answering services to man the lines when your staff is off-duty or engaged in other essential activities. Know your needs, understand your teams’ skills and outsource accordingly.
For most small-sized companies (and more than a few mid-sized operations), some degree of financial systems outsourcing is in order. The following are common accounting tasks that are regularly entrusted to third-party experts:
• Assurance of tax-code compliance
Accounting is also one of the few areas in which third-party consultants could actually save you money. Assuming you don’t have an experienced accountant on staff, looking elsewhere could open up tax loopholes and higher levels of financial efficiency that could more than compensate for your company’s investment. There are no guarantees on this front, but it’s worth keeping this information in mind.
4. Information Technology
IT consulting is one of the most common third-party services for small- to mid-sized companies. Assuming that your company is not involved in an IT-related field, there is really no reason to try and run your own servers. With that in mind, you should at least consider looking off-site for web hosts along with business- and office-related applications.
Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to relinquish control over their in-house networks and hand it over to a consultant. However, as long as you find an IT specialist that is willing to get inside of your business model and explore its industry-specific needs, IT outsourcing remains a viable (even essential) prospect. On that note, these are some of the benefits of outsourcing your IT needs:
• Fewer network failures and downtime
• Guarantees on data security
• Access to certified IT engineers
• Letting your team focus on their primary goals (rather than IT services)
You have to be careful in determining whether or not to outsource your pay-per-click (PPC) management, social media marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). As Forbes columnist Joshua Steimle points out, some shrewd cost-benefit analysis is in order on this front. The decision of whether or not to outsource depends on how your company’s budget, your on-board skill set and—perhaps most crucially—the degree of importance that online marketing plays in the bottom-line success of your company. Many companies end up (rightly) striking a balance between in-house and outsourced expertise.
Please leave your comments and suggestions below in the comments.
About the Author:
Juliet Martin is a freelance writer for Message Direct a professional telephone answering services in UK.