Is Outsourcing Right for Your Company?

outsourcingI’ve talked about the advantages of outsourcing in previous articles. However, we all know nothing is perfect. Where’s the catch? There have to be problems somewhere.

And I can see some of my readers nodding their heads. It’s true. There are downsides to outsourcing.

But if you do your due diligence and make sure to vet potential remote workers carefully,you can minimize the issues while still enjoying the benefits.

Potential disadvantages of outsourcing

Most of the difficulties you run into with business process outsourcing (BPO) are easy enough to deal with if you take some simple precautions.

1. Loss of control

If you hire someone living hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away, you obviously can’t supervise them very well. You can send messages and make video calls, but at the end of the day it’s not the same as standing next to them while they work.

You’re dependent on the professionalism and work ethic of the freelancer or company you hired. They probably won’t share your passion for your business, but if you choose the right people you can still be sure they’ll do a good job.

They’ll hold themselves to a high standard because that’s how they get and retain clients.Plus,on most outsourcing websiteslike Upwork, previous clients must rate the contractor, so any contractor doing a poor job wont last very long.

They’re also specialists in their fields. For example, aweb developer can probably do a better job building your website than you can, because they have training, experience, and top-quality software. Sometimes it’s just better to leave it to professionals.

2. There might be hidden costs

hidden costDoing business in a foreign country can have unknown pitfalls. If you outsource production do you have to pay customs costs? You need to know the answers to these sorts of questions before you sign the outsourcing contract. Depending on the size and importance of the job it can be worth your while to hire a lawyer to go over the contract (or write a new one) before you agree to anything.

3. Security or confidentiality issues

securityLetting remote workers view confidential data such as medical records, or propriety information such as formulas, definitely has its drawbacks. If you need to do this, have them sign the appropriate confidentiality agreements, which offer you some protection.

However, bringing legal action against persons in another country is problematic and expensive. In general, work with someone for a while and make sure you can trust them before sharing confidential information. This applies to in-house staff as well. After all, a disgruntled or incompetent worker can leak privileged information, maliciously or accidentally, from your own office too.

4. Communication problems and cultural conflicts

communication problemMisunderstanding is always a risk when you’re dealing with two – or more – cultures. It helps if you spell out all your expectations clearly. Provide clear due dates and break large projects up into milestones (like chapters in a book) so you can keep track of what’s going on.

It might be a good idea to do a little research on your BPO’s culture. Maybe watch a movie or two from their country. It can help you get a feel for how they communicate. For instance, in some cultures the word ‘no’ is practically forbidden.

You might end a phone call thinking everything went well, when the remote worker was actually too embarrassed to say, “No. We can’t do that.”

There can also be language conflicts, even if you both speak English. If your project is very large and/or important you might consider hiring a project manager who has experience dealing with both Australians and people from that country.

Outsourcing can present hurdles, especially for the inexperienced. Proceed slowly and cautiously and you can enjoy the convenience, price breaks, and good-quality work that come from BPO.

The bottom line is, despite the disadvantages involved, outsourcing will help you to expand your business and reduce your expenditure.

Since 2007 I have been recruiting and outsourcing to contain costs for myself and my clients. In the early period of time I have discovered the good, the bad and the ugly side of outsourcing.

The reason why I continue is I have learnt how to minimize the risks and I can provide services to small business owners that typically only the “big end” of town could afford.

If outsourcing is something that have considered, but not sure where to begin, I can help you bypass all the unknowns and pains that go with inexperience.

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