Most focus on geographical separation: that outsourcing often involves service providers in faraway jurisdictions. Talk of outsourcing inevitably conflates with downsizing, too. And there’s a grain of truth there: responding to cost pressures, many companies do replace full-time, in-house workers with third-party labor, often secured at a discount.
But most outsourcing moves don’t involve layoffs for the simple fact that they’re made before any in-house capacity exists. As you ramp up your company’s non-core processes, you’ll be confronted with a surprising range of opportunities to farm them out to perfectly capable outsiders. These six are particularly low-hanging fruit.
1. Professional Bookkeeping
You surely know that you don’t need a professional in-house accountant to keep watch on your company’s finances. But that doesn’t mean you should delude yourself into believing QuickBooks to be a panacea. There’s a third way: lightweight, cloud-based accounting services that blend the ease of use of a DIY system with the expert guidance of, well, an expert.
2. Prototyping and Low-Run Manufacturing
Outsource R&D? Really?
Not entirely, no. Just the clunky, expensive parts. Instead of bringing prototyping equipment and resources into your lab, farm out pre-market production to a company that offers . This strategy can dramatically reduce your time-to-market, too. And it’s easy to expand to post-market manufacturing runs, provided you don’t need to make tens of thousands of the same widget.
3. Call Handling
When you call into a company’s customer service center, odds are good you’re not talking to the firm’s direct employees. You’re working with a third-party call handler whose business it is to manage increasingly labor-intensive . Unless your core business is customer contact, why not follow their lead?
4. Helpdesk and Knowledge Base Services
Not all customer support requires interpersonal interaction. If you’d like to outfit your website with a helpdesk or content-rich knowledge base, you’re probably daunted by the prospect of staffing said helpdesk or creating said content.
Don’t be. Hire contract writers or (better yet) tap early-adopter customers to answer common questions, subject to close vetting. Use a third-party contact service for live chat support.
5. Custom Web Design
Two works: freelance marketplace. The world brims with talented web designers; the fact that many of them live overseas is incidental. Use a reputable freelancer platform with a deep deck of design talent. Just vet design candidates carefully — you’re entrusting them with your company’s most crucial customer-facing asset, after all.
6. Recruiting and Basic HR Functions
It’s easier than ever to post open positions on dozens of well-trafficked websites at once, no in-house HR pros or recruiters required. Same for screening and vetting, thanks to increasingly sophisticated personality tests and questionnaires. The automated or outsourced portion of your onboarding process may well weed out most candidates, leaving only a handful to personally interview.
What Are You Outsourcing This Year?
Unless you run a service business focusing on one of these six business processes, you probably can’t say with a straight face that you do any of them particularly well. There’s no shame in admitting that the rote, everyday activities that keep your company running smoothly aren’t part of its core mission.
Free yourself and your team to focus on what really matters. Resolve to outsource a new business process — or several — this year. You’ll be surprised by the possibilities.