Outsourcing comes in many different forms. It can boost productivity and efficiencies, while also reducing costs, however, if over-used, or used in the wrong way, it can damage the image of a company and lower employee morale. And it is with this in mind that we take a look at how outsourcing can be used and examine the pros and cons.
Outsourcing has been around for a long time and has traditionally been linked with smaller businesses who, for example, may get someone to “keep the books”. And whilst this still goes on, the nature of the modern business environment dictates that the way outsourcing occurs is somewhat different.
Digital technology, communication and cloud computing have made outsourcing easier and in turn this has led to an increase in the number of people who work freelance or remotely.It also means that there are more types of work that companies see fit to outsource – web development or digital marketing for instance.
It is still unusual, however, for businesses to outsource work that involves direct contact with customers or clients – work that is outsourced tends to be work that is done behind the scenes.
Outsourcing work to specialists in that given field can have several pros. It may be done to a much higher standard and also completed faster – you get better results quicker which is both time and cost effective.
From a human resources perspective, outsourcing also means that you don’t have to employ someone full time to do the work. So you only pay for the what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.Alternatively, using services like managed payroll can leave teams free to get on with more valuable work.
When you outsource, you also have access to talent the world over and this may be valuable if you have clients overseas or the work you need doing is particularly specialised.
Whilst there are many positive aspects to outsourcing work, there are also potential downsides.
Employers sometimes feel that they don’t have enough control over the work that is being done. There may be differences of opinion regarding the way in which the work is to be carried out that are not as easy to resolve as they would be in-house.
Communication can also be the cause of problems. Even with the myriad of ways we now have to communicate; Skype, WhatsApp, email and mobile phones, nothing can compare to being in the same building as the others you are working with and being able to quickly arrange face to face meetings.
In-house employee’s morale can also be dampened by the prospect of work being outsourced. It can leave them feeling that they are not good enough or having insecurities about the future of their own positions in the company.
Done wisely outsourcing work to contractors, whether they are freelancers, contractors or a separate company can be really good for your business. It is important, however, that they are used appropriately and sensitively if their impact is to have maximum effect.