For many entrepreneurs and business owners, ‘outsourcing’ is a bit of a dirty word. It conjures up images of overworked teams, gaps in your business and, perhaps most importantly, big freelance and agency fees.
As frustrating as those outgoings at the end of the months can be, there’s only so much that ultra-talented teams and entrepreneurs can do by themselves. Sometimes the key to developing a more managed and productive team is to accept some outside help.
Outsourcing isn’t about throwing money at a problem and assuming you’ll get impeccable results, nor is it skimping on costs and hoping someone in-house can round out the edges of the project. Here we’ll outline how outsourcing can improve time management and productivity in your business, and how you can get started.
Frees up team members
The immediate impact of outsourcing work is obvious — it takes work off your in-house team’s plate.
If you operate with limited staff or often find yourself in the unhealthy pattern of taking on more work than you can handle, outsourcing will help ensure you meet deadlines and get those projects out the door in time.
Not only does outsourcing free up team members to work on pressing issues and keep your reputation strong, but it also allows you to move onto other projects you’ve been putting off for months. Outsourcing can give your marketing team time to focus on promoting you, your tech whizzes the opportunity to fix those bugs that add hours onto every project, and your creative minds space to flesh out your branding.
Finally, you and your team can focus on these specialist tasks without having to worry about important customer or client work hanging over your head. At its core, outsourcing is freedom (even if it does come at a price).
Brings in a specialist hand
You might think the world of your team, but sometimes it’s important to realize when they’re not quite right for a project.
Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to bring in a specialist hand to help you out on something that might be a little out of your league, but essential for company growth.
Trying to fiddle your way through a complex project without the right knowledge can end up adding hours to the process. Bringing in the right outsourced talent not only eliminates that time issue (which can be highlighted through the use of time tracking tools), but it also affords your team the chance to learn from a specialist.
Even if you’re not paying for lessons, having a professional freelance graphic designer, developer or content writer in the office or on the end of a call can provide vital insight that can be applied to your output long term.
Gives you a fresh perspective
Everyone can do with a fresh perspective now and again, especially businesses.
It doesn’t matter how strong your team is, how clear the project brief is or how many times you’ve done a task before, eventually, everyone gets a bit stale in their job. That shouldn’t be a cause of panic, but you should start considering ways you can freshen up the way you and your team approach work and whether or not it could shave off a couple of minutes.
Outsourcing allows you to bring in someone from outside your usual orbit, someone not worn down by the natural grind of a workplace and able to tackle routine tasks with fresh enthusiasm and ideas. This new perspective can drive someone to work faster and cut out that time spent staring at the wall blank in thought.
This can be invaluable when it comes to completing tasks faster. Think of it like a production line in a factory. If an outsourced talent can complete these routine tasks faster, the work gets to the next step in double time and allows you to put my time, care and energy into a project earlier in the process. While your internal team might struggle to motivate themselves for another round of routine tasks, outsourced talent will jump on the opportunity and see it as just part of their brief.
It’s not just energy that outsourced talent brings to the equation either, but unique ways of going things. Your production line might have become stoggy because of inadequate tools (and if remote working has taught us one thing, it’s the value of digital tools) or poor work allocation.
An outsourced talent might be able to recommend a new internal communications tool or technique for your creative team (we all know how fiddly Photoshop-style programs can be). Every once in a while, this new outlook and the recommendations that come with it are crucial for ironing out persistent creases.
Use all 24 hours of the day
The problem with trying to be more time-efficient as a business is there are only so many hours in the day.
You can’t have people in the office working on tightly scheduled projects and answering customer calls 24 hours a day. They need to rest, and trying to introduce later working times can zap employee motivation. That’s where the power of outsourced talent comes in.
Tyler Quiel is the CEO of Giggster, a platform for booking film locations. He noted that “taking a break can help employees return to work with renewed energy. There are many ways to take a break, such as going for a walk, taking a nap, or spending time with family and friends. Breaks can also include taking a few minutes to stretch or doing some deep breathing exercises. Whatever employees choose to do, they must take some time away from work every now and then to relax and reset.”
Don’t limit yourself to freelancers and agencies that operate on your same nine to five schedule. There is a host of brilliant international talent operating overseas that can be accessed just as easily as local talent. Working with someone outside of your timezone might sound like a logistical nightmare, but you’ll soon see the benefits when you arrive in the office at eight to see a finished project in your inbox (if you’ve never hired abroad before this blog features crucial advice).
This is a crucial step for effective time management. By having someone on the clock at all times, you put yourself in a much better position to answer customer queries, meet deadlines and impress clients.
How to outsource effectively
Now that you understand how outsourcing can be a time management godsend for your business, let’s look at some of the intricacies of outsourcing efficiently.
Find the right person, freelancer or agency for your needs
Outsourcing will only get you so far if you don’t choose the right people.
There are some fantastic freelancers and agencies out there (check out one of the many freelance sourcing websites available) but choosing the wrong one can slow down your project and lead to workload congestion as your team tries to pick up the pieces back in the office.
Even talented people can be wrong for the job, so don’t just go by reviews (although social proof elements can be a brilliant way to filter search results). Be willing to take the time to interview candidates, research their previous work and see how they’d gel with your team.
Outsourcing is not like hiring a new employee, but many elements of that process can be applied to finding the right professionals for outsourcing. First and foremost though, make sure your choice can work autonomously, so as not to disrupt the flow and productivity of your in-house employees.
Get them on your task management software (and other integrations)
Once you have the right freelancer or agency it’s not enough to feed them crumbs and let them get on with the work, you need to let them into the inner working of your business.
Not that you should jeopardise your security or open yourself up for constant questioning that will eat into your time, but a collaboration of this kind will only go so far without some transparency and ease of communication.
Ensure any outsourced talent is working in the same manner as in-house colleagues. Get them on your task management software (click here for one of many great tools that allow quick new user creation), hold an introductory Zoom call to familiarise them with their new colleagues and provide clear briefs to ensure they adhere to company guidelines.
This can feel like a tiresome and redundant process for short term collaboration, but it’s absolutely worth it. Ensuring they’re fully integrated will make the collaboration process easier and better for business.
Outsourcing is one of the best ways to free up time for your team members and bring a new perspective on productivity to your business. The simple presence of a freelancer can lift pressure from a colleague’s shoulders and by taking these practices on board you can start to streamline processes throughout your enterprise.
About The Author:
Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. We write about beauty, fashion, lifestyle, relationships, travel, trends and anything else that matters to you. Name throwing you off? Don’t take it too seriously — we intend to stand out from the crowd.