Building a better company through freelancers and outsourcing agencies is a trend that isn’t going away. It makes good business sense to outsource tasks that you’re not good at or can’t afford to pay someone else to do. However, not all tasks or departments should be outsourced.
What Companies Should and Shouldn’t Outsource
As a rule, you should outsource any task that you can’t or won’t do yourself. At the same time, you may need dedicated employees to complete specific or customer-focused jobs.
Should: Shipping and Delivery
Companies should outsource shipping to another company to reduce costs associated with hiring new employees, maintaining courier trucks, and renting multiple warehouses. An experienced courier can increase customer satisfaction by offering more shipping options.
Should Not: Sales and Marketing
Hiring a freelance graphic artist to create marketing materials is a great idea, but you shouldn’t outsource the department that tells your story. You need an in-house sales and marketing department that can research leads, qualify them, and handle your customers with care.
Should: Payroll and Benefits Management
Any accounting or benefits tasks are easy and preferable to outsource because the focus is on raw data, not the employees themselves. Accounting software, like QuickBooks, can secure sensitive employee information and send documents to and from your bookkeeper with ease.
Join Our Small Business Community
Get the latest news, resources and tips to help you and your small business succeed.
Should Not: Human-Specific HR Tasks
HR tasks like payroll can be outsourced, but you’ll want a dedicated employee-focused HR staff if you’re able. If your HR team isn’t familiar with your vision, and they may not be if they’re not in-house, they may develop weak training policies or hire staff that aren’t fit for your company.
Should: Technology and IT Tasks
IT and other technology-focused tasks that don’t involve customer service are made to be outsourced, especially if your business doesn’t deal in tech. It makes more sense to pay a web designer per project or hire an agency to send an IT expert over when you need them.
Should Not: Customer Service Staff
It’s pretty common to find companies that outsource their customer service portion to an off-site call center, but most call center employees are poorly trained. While outsourcing certain tasks can help your business grow, you shouldn’t gamble on customer experience as a startup.
Should: Administrative or Data Entry Tasks
Most administrative tasks don’t have to be performed in-house. Cloud-based software has made payment processing and data entry a more streamlined, remote task that doesn’t require any special skills, for the most part. Hiring a virtual assistant can dramatically reduce overheads.
Should Not: Business Development
You’ll need an in-house representative to understand why a customer segment will specifically buy your product, so you can repeat that success. An outside business partner may not share their industry secrets or may not know enough about your company to sell successfully.
Should: Any Task You’ll Need to Once (Or For a Limited Time)
Hiring an employee just to cover a task you’ll never need to do again doesn’t make any sense to you or the employee. It may also make little sense to hire on-call employees or cross-train when you’re already understaffed. Keeping freelancers on retainer can solve both staffing issues.
Should Not: Any Task That Disrupts Your Competitive Advantage
Never willingly give over company strategies or protocols that put your business at a competitive advantage, even if the outsourcing agency makes their employees sign strict NDAs. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so it’s best to only tell your secrets to trusted parties.
Although outsourcing can help you cut costs and save time, you should only trust certain departments or business operations to a select few. Your core business functions should never be outsourced, but you can fill several gaps in your company by hiring outside help.