So, you’re interested in outsourcing for your business. You understand what it is and how it works, but you are not sure how to effectively plan your outsourcing journey to guarantee success.
Outsourcing should be considered the same as any other business investment. You wouldn’t want to invest your team’s time and money into a business venture without a clear-cut plan and implementation strategy in place otherwise risk the repercussions of ineffective planning. It requires an in-depth look and understanding of your business functions. You need to identify exactly where outsourcing will benefit your business and where you are going to see the highest return on investment when selecting an outsourcing model.
The below 8 steps will help you and your business set up an effective, all-inclusive outsourcing plan.
Find out if your business is ready for outsourcing
Before reaching out to a third-party outsourcing provider or communicating changes to your staff, it's essential to establish whether your business has the systems and processes in place to support an outsourced model.
It's important to reflect on your business's inner workings and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your business use cloud-based tools and platforms?
- Are your internal processes clearly documented to train new employees easily?
- Is your CRM and relevant software accessible in a remote work setting or in a different country such as the Philippines?
- Are your data security protocols and systems safe?
If you answered ‘no’ to the above questions, your business might need to invest more in getting itself outsource ready.
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, outsourcing could be the solution for you and it's time to begin discussions with an outsourcing provider.
Once you've decided to integrate an offshore team into your business, it's also important to share the decision with your existing team and ensure you manage any initial push back straight away.
The alternative is to sit on the decision and then surprise your team when you start making changes to assist with onboarding your new offshore team member. Do this and you risk losing their trust and will ultimately set your outsourcing journey up for failure. It's most effective to engage your team upfront, share your ideas, vision with them and ask them to think about how an outsourced team could help them in their job and day-to-day tasks.
Identify what tasks you want to send offshore
It's important to go through all internal business tasks and processes and figure out which ones will produce the most return on investment by outsourcing.
This step can be broken down into two parts:
The tasks review
Start by reviewing all of the processes and tasks that occur within your business. For smaller businesses, this may be easier. For larger, consider breaking down the tasks within a function or department that may not be hitting business goals or underperforming.
You want to collate existing job or position descriptions and start differentiating the higher-value tasks focused on strategy and relationship building vs the lower-value tasks that are more administrative, rule-based and repetitive.
Then, consider monitoring the time it takes staff to complete tasks by filling out a staff activity log. It's important to let your employees know that this is crucial to understanding each activity's time consumption within their own workday, not micro-management. Reiterating that in the long run, this step will help in allowing them to focus on what they were hired to do vs what is more data-entry and de-motivating to some.
Once you have efficiently performed this task review, you'll have a good understanding of what tasks are taking up too much of each employee's time and are ready to move to the next part.
Tasks best suited for outsourcing
Now your business needs to take this task review list and figure out what tasks are best suited for outsourcing. It's not as simple as just doing the task review and outsourcing each one of those tasks. This process could even help you identify alternative inefficiencies in your business, such as reporting structures, delegating tasks and so on.
To understand what tasks would make your business more efficient overall by outsourcing, start ranking each task against each other in terms of "frequency and complexity".
For complexity, ask yourself:
- How complex is this task in comparison to other tasks within the department or business?
- What technical skills are required to complete this task?
- How unique is this task to the organisation and would it be difficult to train others in this task?
For frequency, ask yourself:
- How often is the task completed in comparison to other tasks within the department or business?
- Is it worth dedicating a full-time role to just this one task, or could this task be grouped with others to create a role?
Once you've measured each task's complexity and frequency, you'll then have a generally good idea of which tasks will be suited to outsourcing.
There's no point deciding to bring on outsourced resources when you don't know what tasks they will complete for you. This task review will have given you a pretty good understanding of what you need to look for in an outsourced candidate.
You've got your business 'outsource ready' and now have a list of tasks that are suited to outsourcing. You're now ready to engage in discussions with an outsourcing provider.
Find the right outsourcing provider
Finding the right outsourcing provider with the correct model for your business and your work practices is crucial for success. Without being familiar with the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) industry, you could find yourself in a situation where you don't understand what to expect from providers, whether what they are selling represents good value and whether or not you're opening your business up to unnecessary risk.
To ensure you're choosing the right provider for your business, start by asking the right questions.
These questions should be covering all the important aspects about your potential provider and cover topics such as:
- What tools do you have in place to ensure staff remain online and productive 100% of the time?
- Do you operate 24/7?
- How do you supervise my outsourced staff?
- Holidays and leave
- What public holiday schedule do your staff work to and how do you manage the additional costs of public holidays?
- Can you detail your standard security policies and infrastructure to manage data, security and privacy?
- How do you ensure staff cannot access cloud-based systems and applications outside of the office?
- Human resources and recruitment
- How do you review staff performance?
- How do you measure employee satisfaction?
- What productivity reporting do you provide as a standard?
- How does your recruitment process ensure you find the best candidate for my role?
- What are testing standards for applicants during the recruitment process?
- Invoicing and management
- How do you manage currency fluctuations and will my invoice go up and down each month?
- Do you have an Account Manager in Australia?
When you're shopping for an outsourcing provider, make sure you go to any sales meeting armed with these questions; and you'll very quickly learn who is the right match for you.
Get your technology right
Today's technology is what makes outsourcing such a practical business solution. The tech is incredibly cost-effective and easy to set up and operate. All you need is a computer, headset, webcam and web conferencing platform (we use Zoom).
From there, you need to move your processes and documentation to the cloud. This will ensure your offshore employees have access to everything they need and will help streamline communication between your onshore and offshore teams.
Learn more about where to spend your tech budget in the video below:
Create a job description and define your key results areas
The outsourcing model that we've found works best for any business is to contract an outsourced staff member on a full-time basis who works for your business 100% of the time.
If you decide this model works best for you, you'll need to supply your outsourcing provider with a detailed outline of the kind of person you're looking for and what sorts of tasks you'll need them to complete.
The best format for this is a Job Description (JD) and a Key Results Area (KRA) document. Put simply; the JD outlines what skills you're looking for and what tasks you want the employee to complete. The KRA document outlines how well you expect those tasks to be completed.
Develop a training plan
A widespread concern for businesses looking to outsource for the first time is 'how long will they take to train'? The answer is, if your outsourced team is trained correctly, then it should not take longer than if you were to train someone locally.
You need to be very clear about your training goals and how you're going to deliver them. Your offshore team member will require training about your business's specific inner workings - and this is down to you.
It's crucial that for your outsource team to work, your business needs to invest time and effort in training them across all of your processes and systems. Without this investment, your outsource team may not meet your expectations.
Manage your offshore team
The set and forget technique doesn't work with the management of anyone, let alone an offshore team. You need to have a practical management framework within your business that is consistently used to manage your outsourced staff.
With the right outsourcing provider, you will have the support of your offshore management team on an operational level.
This can involve the following:
- IT deployment and support
- KPI development and performance management
- Ensure staff productivity levels are high through monitoring work habits
- Employee engagement activities
- Proactive advice and best practices on optimising overall performance
- Management of Philippines-specific legal and compliance matters
- Ongoing recruitment, HR, payroll, facilities management and IT support
- Expat settlement assistance.
Their on-the-ground operations management allows you to focus purely on the work and business processes, retaining as much control of productivity and quality as you require.
You can manage your offshore time via online communication tools and WIP documents.
Grow your outsourced team
Once you've bought on your first outsourced team member, you'll very quickly become comfortable with how it all works; and, you'll start to see for yourself the incredible benefits outsourcing can have for your business if it's done correctly.
Once you get it right once, you'll begin to see other opportunities within your business where outsourcing could play a big part in improving processes, customer experience and, ultimately, kickstarting business growth.
Interested in getting started with your outsourcing journey?
This blog was updated on July 01, 2021