Outsourcing has gotten a bad rap in recent years.
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Consumers envision the exodus of jobs overseas, while employees equate it with automating their tasks. But as an entrepreneur, you know that smart outsourcing can result in substantial savings on your fixed costs, and you can apply that extra money toward initiatives to improve your core business.
And technology has made outsourcing much easier, efficient, and cost-effective than ever. In fact, there are aspects of your business that you can outsource which you may have never considered before.
Human resources. You probably know about payroll service providers (perhaps you even use one now). But were you aware that there are numerous companies that can not only provide you with health care, retirement plans, and other benefits; but can shop around for the best deals and get you the best value for your dollar? These firms do all the legwork needed to give your workers the benefit package they deserve – while saving you the effort and cost of having to piece it all together yourself.
CFO. You don't have to necessarily fill this position in-house anymore. Many individuals and/or financial firms can take on the responsibility of being your chief financial officer-for-hire. This gives you access to valuable strategic thinking without paying someone an exorbitant salary to get it.
Legal services. Not many small businesses have enough money to keep a "company lawyer" in-house. Many law firms have attorneys working in several specialties, so they can assist you with whatever legal issues you may have and free up more room on your payroll for more pressing needs.
Information technology. Many companies can't afford to justify a full-time IT person. In the past, quite a few IT service providers were based overseas. But nowadays, rates have dropped to where small businesses can afford outsourced IT services and software - without having to call India or China to get support.
Conference rooms. With advances in technology, you no longer have to gather everyone into the same room to discuss a project. The day-to-day "paperwork" can now be hosted on a single online platform like GoogleDocs. This allows team members to view and edit documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and other information without emailing them back and forth to each other.
Plus, comprehensive project management tools like Basecamp allow you to track the progress of complex jobs. In addition to extensive file-sharing, these systems track deadlines, create "to-do lists," and record hours spent on various parts of the project.
Feedback. No more wasting time trying to draw up customer satisfaction surveys. Free services like surveymonkey.com offer research questionnaires and data collection tools which you can customize to get the feedback you're looking for to help your business.
In the 21st century, outsourcing will become less about saving money and more about channeling company efforts and resources into improving core competencies. In other words, because outsourcing is becoming more accepted and widespread, businesses will soon become known for what they keep in-house instead of what they farm out. It's these internal functions that will be viewed as a key component of what differentiates one business from another.
So pay no attention to the naysayers who decry the evils of outsourcing. They're not the ones who have to pay your bills.