Something to Ponder: Business Choices, Innovate or Outsource?

CIO‘s outsource for a variety of reasons: better service performance, lower costs, greater efficiency and, in a few cases, to be seen as the executive making an impact.

Irrespective of the rationale, most share a common expectation that their outsource partners will offer creative and innovative solutions throughout the contract. 
This was highlighted in a 2009 survey by Forrester Research which found that over 40% of organisations outsourcing IT services cited the lack of innovation or continuous improvement as their greatest challenge with vendors.

With most IT suppliers recognising that the development of innovative and creative solutions is critical to their success, where does the problem lie? Often it simply comes down to organisations not articulating what is expected by way of innovation from their outsourcing vendor. This can be resolved by drawing on a technique from the IT Service Management toolkit, namely the Service Improvement Plan (or SIP). The SIP can provide the basis for an innovative response provided that the requirement is well defined, the context is set correctly and there is a means of measuring success.

Defining the requirement

In other words, articulate the question to which you think innovation is the answer. To provide real value, innovation must be defined in the context of business objectives – it may be transformation efforts that improve shareholder value or create a level of strategic or tactical advantage. For business stakeholders, this could result in increased sales or improved customer satisfaction. Only with that level of understanding can an innovation discussion be clarified.

Speaking of innovation,  No longer is it just a matter of doing more with less; organisations are increasingly seeking growth through innovation, and cost -cutting in isolation is a game of diminishing returns.

In this environment, we’re seeing a move to smartsourcing.

Cloud computing and the growth in flexible, rich services it enables have transformed the concept of outsourcing, sparking an evolution in the way organisations think about flexible, cost-effective, project-based workforces.

Traditional outsourcing saw companies contracting out entire business functions or projects to external providers. Good while it lasted – and this kind of outsourcing will continue to play a role – but the advent of Cloud computing has brought with it the kind of flexibility, dynamism, scalability and cost-savings that traditional outsourcing simply cannot compete with.

With so much unpredictability in the current climate, why get bogged down in complex contractual arrangements or sign up for set, time-based projects when you don’t know what’s around the corner?

One of the greatest assets of Cloud isn’t just its capacity for driving down costs, but the way in which it enables the kind of on-the-fly sandboxing and experimentation that traditional outsourcing simply cannot provide.
In the past few years, many organisations have become used to consuming IT as a service; the utility model that Cloud supports could almost have been designed for organisations looking to cut costs without cutting back on their ability to innovate or scale.

Cloud computing allows organisations to streamline resources while retaining complete control over information resources. In this respect, the economic climate has been a catalyst for the growth in on-demand software, virtualisation, mobile technologies and infrastructure services, exposing some of the more negative, restrictive aspects of traditional outsourcing arrangements.

The complex contractual arrangements often associated with traditional outsourcing are in stark contrast to the flexibility of on-demand IT. Need more resources? Turn it up. Need less? No problem, scale back knowing that, should things improve next week, you can crank things up a few notches again.

This utility model has driven austerity-friendly pay-as-you-go payment structures. Because users can scale on demand, there’s no concern that you’re over-investing in a project that might not work. Costs per user, per instance are visible upfront, with no surprises. Watertight SLAs combined with technology that can be rolled-out on demand make it relatively easy for businesses to show their dissatisfaction with a provider by simply taking their business elsewhere with minimal disruption.

Cloud is re-defining the way businesses innovate and operate, giving them the freedom to experiment without the risks.

In this environment, outsourcing is a critical enabler of success. Experienced innovation firms use proven methods and tools to produce those crucial early-stage results, while also injecting the DNA of innovation process into the organization. Typically this outsourcing takes projects can range from R&D and engineering work, product and/or industrial design, to innovation process design.

Our company RenditionDigital International Ltd. has been providing the means for companies to achieve both  and scale based on demand without sacrificing risks involved. A proven track record with some the largest companies worldwide we can help you achieve both. For additional information click work with jay??

The 3 R’s

Is there more to outsourcing than the bottom line? What are the other reasons companies choose this route? What about ramifications for aspects of your business that are not so easily quantified?

In this article, we’ll discuss the 3 R’s of outsourcing: Reasons, Risks and Rewards, specifically as they relate to information technology (IT). And, as a bonus, we’ll provide some tips to help you manage successful relationships with your IT service providers (whether they are full-time staff, or outsourced).

The Reasons

According to the Outsourcing Institute’s Outsourcing Index 2000, there are many reasons why companies outsource. Here are some of the top reasons:

  1. Reduce and control operating costs. When you outsource, you eliminate the costs associated with hiring an employee, such as management oversight, training, health insurance, employment taxes, retirement plans etc.
  2. Improve company focus. It is neither practical, nor possible to be a jack of all trades. Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies while another company focuses on theirs.
  3. Gain access to exceptional capabilities. Your return on investment is so much greater when you outsource information technology to a firm that specializes in the areas you need. Instead of just the knowledge of one person, you benefit from the collective experience of a team of IT professionals. Outsourced IT companies usually require their IT staff to have proper industry training and certifications as well.
  4. Free internal resources for other purposes. You may have someone in your office that is pretty good with computers or accounting, but most likely these were not the jobs he or she was hired to do. If they are spending time taking care of these things, who is doing what they were hired to do? Outsourcing allows you to retain employees for their highest and best use, rather than wasting their time on things that may take them longer than someone who is trained in these specific areas.
  5. Resources are not available internally. On the flip side, maybe you don’t have anyone in your company who can manage your IT needs, and hiring a new employee is not in the budget. Outsourcing can be a feasible alternative, both for the interim and for the long-term.
  6. Maximize restructuring benefits. When you are restructuring your company to improve costs, quality, service, or speed, your non-core business functions may get pushed aside. They still need to be handled, however, and outsourcing is an optimal way to do this. Don’t sabotage your restructuring efforts by failing to keep up with non-core needs.
  7. Function difficult to manage or out of control. This is definitely a scenario when outsourcing to experts can make a big difference. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can forget about the problem now that it’s being “handled.” You still need to be involved even after control is regained.
  8. Make capital funds available. By outsourcing non-core business functions, you can spend your capital funds on items that are directly related to your product or your customers.
  9. Reduce Risk. Keeping up with technology required to run your business is expensive and time consuming. Because professional outsourced IT providers work with multiple clients and need to keep up on industry best practices, they typically know what is right and what is not. This kind of knowledge and experience dramatically reduces your risk of implementing a costly wrong decision.

The Risks

Anytime you give someone else responsibility for an aspect of your business, whether a full-time new hire or an outside vendor, there is risk involved. Did I hire the right person/company to do the job? Will they do what they are supposed to do? How will they “fit” with existing employees or departments? These are the questions that nag owners of small businesses when handing over the reigns to a new employee or vendor.

According to Yvonne Lederer Anotucci in her article “The Pros and Cons of IT Outsourcing,” business owners who consider outsourcing IT functions need to be aware of the following risks:

  1. Some IT functions are not easily outsourced. IT affects an entire organization; from the simple tasks employees do everyday to the complex automated aspects. Be sure the outside vendor are qualified to take care of your greatest needs.
  2. Control may be lost. Critics argue that an outside vendor will never be as effective as a full-time employee who is under the same management as other employees. Other concerns include confidentiality of data and disaster recovery. However, a supervisor that is knowledgeable in managing an IT staff member will usually be required.
  3. Employee morale may be affected. This is particularly true if you will be laying off employees to replace their job functions with an outsourced firm. Other employees may wonder if their job is at risk, too.
  4. You may get “locked in.” If the vendor does not document their work on your network and system, or if you’ve had to purchase their proprietary software, you may feel like you can’t go anywhere else or take back your network. Many outsourced companies require you to sign a year to year contract which limits flexibility.

Most of these risks can be avoided altogether if you know what to look for in a vendor and ask the right questions. Wondering how your current or prospective IT service provider stacks up? Take Corporate Computer Service’s Support Provider Ranking Quiz at:www.corpcomputerservices.com/computer-support-quiz.php. These questions will get you thinking about what to ask and what to look for, whether you want to hire a full-time IT professional on staff, or outsource to a support provider.

The Rewards

Still not sure whether to outsource or not? According to Anotucci, who provided the list of risks outlined above, there are many rewards you can expect when you outsource your company’s IT functions as well:

  1. Access to the latest and greatest in technology. You may have noticed how rapidly software and hardware becomes obsolete in this industry. How is one staff person going to keep up-to-date with everything? Outsourcing gives you the benefit of having more than just one IT professional. And since it’s the core competency of the company, they can give you sound advice to put your IT dollars to work for you.
  2. Cost savings. Outsourcing your IT services provides financial benefits such as leaner overhead, bulk purchasing and leasing options for hardware and software, and software licenses, as well as potential compliance with government regulations.
  3. High quality of staff. Since it’s their core competency, outsourced IT vendors look to hire staff with specific qualifications and certifications. You may not know what to look for if you’re hiring someone to be on staff full-time, so you may hire the wrong person for the job.
  4. Flexibility. Vendors have multiple resources available to them, while internal staff may have limited resources and capabilities.
  5. Job security and burnout reduction for regular employees. Using an outsourced IT company removes the burden from your staff who has taken on more than he or she was hired for because “someone needs to do it.” You will establish a better relationship with your employees when you let them do what they do best and what they were hired to do.

Conclusion:

Now that you have seen the risks and rewards associated with outsourcing the IT function of your business, there is a lot to think about. Whether you choose to outsource or hire internally, one thing is certain, you must know how to manage successful working relationships with your IT service providers. Let’s face it, they’re not always the easiest people in the world to understand and deal with, right? Here are some tips:

  • Clearly form and communicate the goals and objectives of your project or business relationship.
  • Have a strategic vision and plan for your project or relationship.
  • Select the right vendor or new hire through research and references.
  • Insist on a contract or plan that includes all the expectations of the relationship, especially the financial aspect.
  • Keep open communication with all affected individuals/groups.
  • Rally support and involvement from decision makers involved.

Why “Middle Managers” Are Critical for BPO Companies

There is a commonly held misconception that “middle managers” can cost companies both money and efficiency.  However, in the business process outsourcing industry, this statement couldn’t be any farther from the truth.

When it comes to business process outsourcing Philippines, these middle managers are essentially the glue that keeps the entire organization together.  Without them, fundamental processes would fall apart, and the company would be left afloat in very dangerous waters.  Here are several reasons why middle management is such an integral piece of Philippines business process outsourcing:

Internal and External Communication

In a business process outsourcing company, middle managers are the ones who communicate externally, typically with customers and suppliers.  In addition, the middle managers are the ones who communicate internally with members of senior management.  This means that middle managers essentially bridge an important gap in business process outsourcing companies.  They know what’s happening inside and outside the company.  In Philippines business process outsourcing, this could mean that answers to critical problems exist in the hands of middle management.

A Diverse Skill Set

Middle managers possess a wealth of diverse skills that make up part of the glue that holds business process outsourcing companies together.  One of the key skills they often use is virtual management, which involves working remotely with teams of people across the globe.  This means middle managers are experts at using technology to collaborate and achieve a common goal.  Without the know-how of middle management to apply technology in a team-oriented environment, the cohesiveness in Philippines business process outsourcing would not exist.  Other skills that middle managers excel in include cultural awareness and sensitivity, multitasking, trouble-shooting, and change implementation.

The Future of the Organization

Middle managers serve as leaders and mentors for the employees working under them.  They are essentially responsible for building the next generation of management in the company. Business process outsourcing Philippines will continue to grow at an exponential rate, and it is important to have excellent middle managers in place to foster the development of upcoming players in the game.

With middle managers taking on the responsibility of communicating externally and internally, exercising a diverse skill set, and training the future leaders of the organization, it is clear that these employees are integral to the advancement of Philippines business process outsourcing.  No organization would be successful without the presence of strong middle management.  There is simply no way to accomplish business process outsourcing Philippines without them in place.

Read the full article at trybpo.com
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Virtual Outsourcing vs. Traditional Outsourcing Providers

About a decade has past and there was a time where, an IT service provider could feel confident marketing itself based on two strengths—process expertise and scale. But in an age of cloud computing, virtualization and automation, staff size may no longer matter.

Even as HP’s fate once it sheds 27,000 employees is still up in the air, the headcount required to staff a successful outsourcing engagement is most certainly decreasing. And the days of outsourcing-related layoffs and the “lift and shift” of the remaining labor force to a third-party provider aren’t likely to return.

“The number of resources that a provider has on staff used to mean a lot more than it does today. The average outsourcing deal size is decreasing, while the number of deals continues to increase. The market is starting to realize that it is about engaging the provider with the best overall value proposition, as opposed to the biggest—or cheapest—provider.”

In today’s buyers outsourcing market, it’s outsourcing customers that may be driving this change. “Buyers are two steps beyond reducing headcount, while interested in a more efficient and effective service delivery, [they] are now seeking transformation.”

Someday “your mess for less” may be supplanted by “our processes, your people,” as customers seek out providers who can transfer their expertise and methodologies to the client’s existing IT staff. Where outsourcing providers used to say, “tell me what you do and I’ll do it (for you), or, better yet, give me your people so we can limit operational risk. The new approach is, I’ll tell you what is best and you tell me [whether or not it will] work. This new dynamic brings outsourcing relationships to a more advanced state.

The most mature providers are already pushing the ‘virtual outsourcing’ value proposition to their clients. Staff transfer is not a differentiating capability for the IT majors.

Indeed, most providers will resist taking on client staff today. Providers now have plenty of people and equipment so they are usually not interested in a transfer. When we see that these days (particularly in it deals), it is more of an accommodation than something that the provider needs in order to perform. And it’s one that comes at a premium.

In the application development and maintenance space-where labor arbitrage had been the big driver behind outsourcing-price is becoming less of a differentiating factor. And “with the advent of platform-as-a-service (offerings), buyers can now manage their own code-and staff-to build customer solutions. Providers are simply passing on the capability.

In the end, the extent to which a provider offers or simply transfers knowledge, service, and value to a client is highly dependent on the buyer’s IT and IT services maturity.”

Provider’s are pushing [virtual outsourcing] as one possible strategy, but we don’t see [many] customers ready to move forward with it. That could change in the future, but widespread acceptance of that model would take several years. These things aren’t yet happening in practice even if this is where we want to go.”

Five Things to Remember When Negotiating an Outsourcing Agreement

How can an organization meet the objectives of an outsourcing contract negotiation? I’ve identified five things to consider that can potentially keep you from conducting a successful outsourcing contract negotiation:
  •  Statement of Work – A Statement of Work (SOW) describes in great detail the services to be performed by the provider and also clarifies certain client responsibilities.
  • Service Levels – Service levels work in conjunction with the SOW to scope the services that the provider will deliver.  They describe how much and to what extent the services described in the SOW are delivered.
  • Termination Language – Termination language is analogous to a prenuptial agreement; just in case things do not work out as originally intended and can be manipulated towards the end of an outsourcing contract negotiation in order to get preferred price.
  • Future Pricing – IT costs should go down over time due to improvements in hardware and software functionality and pricing, labor arbitrage, automation, and so forth.  Because each situation is different, there are no easy “rules of thumb” to apply, but pay close attention to these specific areas:
    •   Year-over-Year Pricing
    •   Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)
    •   Variance Pricing
  • Delivery Locations – A provider may want to include the freedom to deliver whatever location they see fit in an outsourcing contract negotiation. Due to the risk of potential business impact, buyers should have approval prior to the movement of support functions.

“These areas of the agreement, if not carefully structured, can drain value from your business case and decrease the probability of having a successful and sustainable outsourcing negotiation. Due to the variations and complexity inherent in each deal you should strongly consider the use of an outside outsourcing advisor to help. Because they understand your perspective as well as the providers’ point of view, they are ideally positioned to help manage through these items and develop an outsourcing agreement that works well for both you and the provider.”

Outsourcing vs. Establishing Captive Facilities Offshore

The choice between outsourcing or operating a captive facility for call center services, non-voice customer Learn how 3D interactive characters fundamentally change the way users interact with a site. services and back office processing, offers advantages for both approaches. Here we examine the advantages of outsourcing and two principal strategies for outsourcing. In an upcoming article, the advantages of establishing a captive facility will be detailed.

There are two principal strategies being pursued for outsourcing: strategic and market-driven outsourcing. Strategic outsourcing is addressed first because it does not lend itself to the establishment of captive offshore operations as easily as market-driven outsourcing.

Strategic Outsourcing

Strategic outsourcing aims to redirect an organization’s resources to focus on its core competencies. Core competencies for some organizations consist largely of strategic planning, brand management and project management.

Strategic outsourcing enables organizations to quickly change course, enter new markets and access new technologies. Strategic outsourcing focuses on results. Market-driven outsourcing is often more process oriented, with greater attention paid to how results are achieved.

Strategic outsourcing often involves large projects or indefinite quantity contracts (ICQs), managed by a primary outsourcing service provider and supported by smaller specialty firms that serve as subcontractors. Administrative fees charged by a prime contractor for passing funds through to subcontractors often range from 25 percent to 35 percent. In comparison, brokers generally charge a 5 percent commission for placing outbound voice work and 10 percent for inbound customer service contracts.

Strategic outsourcing lends itself to process redesign and organizational transformation, but not to the relatively long-term, more capital-intensive tactic of establishing captive offshore facilities. Market-driven outsourcing, in contrast, can serve as a stepping stone to establishing a captive operation offshore.

Market driven outsourcing enables buyers to gain familiarity with a location before deciding whether to commit to setting up their own operations there. Familiarity is no guarantee that a captive operation will be successful, as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) demonstrated by pulling the plug on its captive operation in Bangalore on May 29.

Market-Driven Outsourcing

The key variables in market-driven outsourcing are the capabilities and prices of available service providers. The decision to outsource is often based on short-term cost savings from using qualified talent pools and cheaper infrastructure in offshore locations.

The direct costs and levels of effort required for project management of market-driven outsourcing projects are usually greater than for strategic outsourcing ones. Full support of project management activities in market-driven outsourcing projects lowers the risks and total costs of running these programs offshore.

Customer service outsourcing from the U.S. and Europe during the years 2000 through 2006 has often not been highly cost-sensitive for large projects, due in part to the administrative challenges that buyers face in undertaking their first major round of offshore outsourcing. In offshore outsourcing version 1.0, half a buyer’s payments for offshore services are often applied to service providers’ administrative expenses, profits and marketing costs.

In outsourcing version 2.0, large buyers of outsourcing services are increasingly seeking a multi-source approach that enables their outsourcing efforts to be more market driven. Buyers are building up internal capabilities for managing outsourcing projects executed by smaller, cheaper vendors. Whereas outsourcing 1.0 vendors present themselves as capable of handling anything and everything, the new generation of outsourcing 2.0 firms often need institution-building assistance before launching a program.

In outsourcing 1.0, service providers help buyers with institution building. In outsourcing 2.0, buyers are showing greater sophistication and a stronger interest in achieving better value for money. This makes it more likely that buyers will consider the cost effectiveness of establishing stand-alone operations overseas.

Characteristics of Captive Operations

Whereas outsourcing entails having a third party perform tasks, captive facilities are established by a parent company to perform its own tasks.

  • Captive operations can be commercialized, as GE did in India by founding Gecis Global and spinning it off on Dec. 30, 2004. GE retained a 40 percent equity stake in Gecis, subsequently renamed “Genpact.”
  • Captive operations can utilize service level agreements (SLAs), metrics and reporting systems along the same lines as those used in commercial outsourcing arrangements. The best types of processes to initially send offshore are often those that are the easiest to measure. Once initial successes have been achieved and management systems stabilized, tasks that are unique or less suitable to intensive metrics analysis can be considered, such as research tasks, content generation projects and those associated with knowledge process outsourcing or KPO.
  • Cost projections for captive facilities can borrow data from commercial outsourcing facilities. However, in-depth cost analysis at commercial facilities can be difficult in areas where IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) businesses are given major tax breaks (primarily India). The difficulty emerges because of internal cross-subsidization. The expenses of tax-exempt business units may be inflated or paid by non-exempt units, thereby increasing the amount of income that can be declared tax free.

 

Reasons to Retain Outsourcing 1.0 Arrangements

Traditional wisdom has held that outsourcing a call center program for longer than three years is more expensive than running a captive operation. This equation does not hold up in India and Pakistan, where locally owned facilities are capable of maintaining lower operating costs and lower profit margins indefinitely. The equation is likely to hold true for Western-owned merchant facilities in India and large Indian-owned call center companies, which charge more than their mid-size domestic offshore counterparts.

 

There are good reasons for U.S. companies to select large, relatively expensive U.S. providers. The principal reason is the weak offshore project management capacities that large U.S. outsourcing clients are faced with internally. They may not be able to recruit and manage their own staff to build up the institutional capacity of an experienced big-name outsourcing outfit to accept and run a large program properly and quickly.

Customer service and some back-office operations can be so critical to a company’s image and brand integrity that it is worth paying premium rates in order to minimize risks. The best choice for risk minimization is usually made by trusting an experienced market leader, despite the higher prices levied by the major firms. Higher prices pay off for many buyers because of both the reduced risks and the reduced level of effort it requires to provide such operations within a buyer’s organization.

Large-scale disapproval of outsourcing or offshoring among the majority of a U.S. company’s staff can translate into reduced capabilities to implement a project properly, whether or not it results in job losses. Reluctance of U.S. personnel to assist in an outsourcing process can range from open hostility to overt non-cooperation and intentional bungling of an outsourcing project. By bringing in an experienced outside team, an outsourcing client can lower the risks of project failure and help ensure a satisfactory result.

Advantages of Outsourcing

 

  • Outsourcing requires little capital to establish. However, significant spending is needed for onsite training and monitoring — even in simple programs.
  • Outsourcing contracts can include provisions for hiring out local staff in the event that a client decides to establish their own operation. Personal ties and the investments in training that a client makes during an outsourcing project are resources that can be retained once a commitment has been made to establish a captive facility.
  • Outsourcing to a facility overseas shifts the risk for site selection, government permits, tax compliance, personnel recruiting, technology Discover Proven Strategies to Improve the Security of Your Products. Free Whitepaper. deployment and cost control. Establishing a captive facility brings those risks back in-house.
  • Western firms in India are often overcharged for non-IT inputs in comparison with local businesses, and are also vulnerable to extortion attempts. The extent of overcharging is often keyed to perceptions of ability to pay. Corruption in India is not limited to the public sector or to Indian nationals, and is not an easy topic to discuss, except to say that outsourcing to a reputable vendor often removes these risks.

To Outsource, Or Not To Outsource your Social Media

“Should I outsource my social media?” is one of the most popular question that a lot of businesses ask these days. The truth is there are many things that factor in and you’ll to look at them before considering making any decision about outsourcing social media.

The first thing I want to clarify is that social media outsourcing comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s important to realize that just because a social media service provider offers a specific package or arrangement for their services, doesn’t mean those are the only options out there. There are lots of ways you can work with social media professionals to make your social media effective and it doesn’t have to just be someone posting for you. I think the reason many ask if they should outsource social media is because they are overwhelmed. They don’t understand how the tools work, they don’t know where they should post, they don’t know what to post, and they don’t know how much time and money they should invest. So, they find someone to post for them and all they get is joy of paying someone else to be as scattered and random in their postings as they would’ve been doing it by themselves.

However I would say yes, I believe most small businesses and entrepreneurs need external help with their social media. This would enable business owners to really focus on what’s important and that’s to generate revenue and find new customers, but I don’t think you should hire someone else to simply post for you. Rather, the scenario looks much more like a partnership than an outsourcing agreement. 

So, how to find the right help and relationship to have with a social media company? Ask yourself the following questions to determine what you need:

  • How big is your company?

    Are you a one-woman (or man) shop and everyone knows it? Or, are you a small business, but customers interact with several employees on a regular basis? Regardless of size, social media needs to be transparent. Don’t ever use a ghost poster and intentionally hide that person’s identity or appear as if they are someone else. If multiple people post under one profile, they should always sign their posts with their names or have separate profiles so they can be identified. You don’t want to turn people off by losing the personal connection they can feel by knowing who they’re interacting with. If you’re a one-person shop, it doesn’t make very much sense to have anyone else posting for you. Your customers come to you for a reason and so you should always be the one posting. You need to interact with your customers personally to make the connections with them that draw them to your business.

  • Do you like doing social media?

    If you absolutely can’t stand social media and get frustrated with it frequently, you probably shouldn’t be the one posting. Definitely don’t do it because you “have to.” If you aren’t enthused about it, get someone else to post for your company, but make sure they are using the language you want them to use. Make it very transparent that someone else is posting and make it very clear they are the delivery person of the information that’s being transferred. They should be personable and friendly. One important note, however, is that most people that say they hate social media are actually scared, overwhelmed, and confused by it. If that’s you, simply take the time to learn the tools, then learn the strategy, piece-by-piece. I think you’ll find your feelings about it will change drastically. Don’t expect to learn it all overnight. Break it down into very small pieces and go step-by-step.

  • Do you know the tools?

    Sometimes I work with people who are excited to get started in social media, but they don’t know how to log into their Facebook account. Social media services are different than accounting services. Since it is social, after all, you need to take personal ownership in it. As much as some may not like it, you shouldn’t outsource your social media just because you don’t want to learn the tools. You don’t have to become an expert at it, but finding a social media partner is more about making it efficient and effective, not just dumping it so you don’t have to do the work. Would you ever dump your customer service department or sales staff to a call center in China just because you don’t understand how the process works or you don’t want to learn how? That’s not a very good strategy in my opinion. If you don’t know how to log into your accounts, that is not the time to outsource any of your social media. Think of it differently; once you learn the tools and know how to use them, THEN you can graduate to finding a partner to help create efficiency. 

  • Do you have a strategy?

    Many social media novices (and even those that have been around for a while) post as though they’re shooting an arrow with a blindfold on. They can’t see their target, and their posts are often random, inconsistent and vague, going in all sorts of directions. It doesn’t make sense to add more people in (or outside) your business posting with the same approach. All you’ll have is a mine field of random arrows flying around. Ouch! Watch out! It would make more sense to hire a company to help develop your strategy, rather than to handle your posting. Find someone who will help establish your goals and objectives, create a content list and library, and create an editorial calendar to establish timing and frequency for posting content that is relevant and appealing to your audience. (Check out my free Social Media Calendar Template).

    Make sure the company you hire takes the time to learn about your company, your customers, and asks you pressing questions about who you’d like to serve and what you want to achieve by serving that group of people. This is the core of establishing a solid marketing strategy. Don’t waste time shooting arrows that land all over the place and especially don’t multiply that by outsourcing. It’s more important and wise to invest in a partner to help you strategize and plan. You know the company you’re working with is good if they ask questions that are hard to answer or require you to consider new options. Sometimes you’re too close to your business to see things with a clear view.

  • Is posting the problem, or is creating content?

    Another reason business people outsource social media is because they don’t know what to say and think a social media agency is going to know the answers. While a good agency may how to find good content, you have to carefully evaluate what they’re doing for you. Are they simply going to post content that you have to provide? Are they going to provide content, and if so, do they know what is relevant and interesting to your audience? 

    Maybe, instead of worrying about finding someone to post for you (which only takes a few minutes a day if you put the right system in place), you should find someone who can help determine what to post. That includes creating lists of content, finding content, establishing the ideal mix of promotional and informative content, and identifying what your audience wants to hear. Once you’ve done all of this, you need to create an editorial calendar and schedule when you’ll post and when you’ll curate more content. After that, actually posting is simple as pie and doesn’t take much time at all.

  • How much time can you devote to posting?

    One of the most common pieces of advice floating around in the social media space is how much time a person should spend on social media per day. Everyone has a different answer for this, but the real answer is you should spend as much time as is necessary to be effective. That number isn’t going to be the same from business to business. You should also use your time in the most efficient way possible. I recommend creating a schedule that works for you. Don’t just set a timer and spend 30 minutes hanging out online. Use your time with intention and work through a list of tasks to complete. That will tell you how long to spend each day. If it takes longer than you have time, find the tasks that can be handled by someone else (like responding to very basic comments or inquiries).

    Don’t forget to include the time it takes to plan your social media and find new content. Weed out the things that can be done by someone else and hire a new member of your team, or find an external team to help.

  • How complex are the questions people ask about your business?

    Often, no one knows our businesses better than we do. It’s normal to feel that no one else can answer your customer’s questions better than you. This mindset will make life extremely difficult as your business grows. While it may be true, you have to put systems in place to remove yourself from your business and let it operate independently from you. (For a great book on this topic, read Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth.)

    Likewise, the same is true with social media. There’s a lot of interaction that needs to happen long before your customers will get to the deep questions only you can answer. It’s definitely possible to get help responding to comments and simply being social with your followers. Then, any tough questions can be forwarded to you for followup.

I hope you can see how outsourcing social media should be more than just hiring someone to post on your behalf. It really depends on where you are in understanding social media and how to utilize an outside resource to maximize efficiency while aligning with a strategy. Hiring help should be thought of as a way to improve social media and not a way to reduce the work you have to do. Otherwise, I believe you are just wasting money. You need to find someone who will work with you in the ways that make the most sense for your business and will give the best results. Don’t settle for cookie-cutter packages!

What are some ways you can hire a social media partner to help you improve? You can hit the “Work With Me?” section of this site and find out more.


Is Outsourcing For Small/Medium Size Companies?

As a business, you’ve probably encountered suggestions for outsourcing solutions. Outsourcing solutions covers parts of your operation to the extent that it would have you thinking about outsourcing everything you need. In theory, you can do that. But just because a lot of businesses are trumpeting the benefits of outsourcing does not mean that you should automatically follow. Should you leave talent management, for instance, to an outsourced company? It would be best to consider the benefits of outsourcing first before making a decision.

Focus On Your Business

Letting you focus on your core activities when a company expands, so will all other aspects of it. If you don’t have enough resources, you will end up having to compromise in certain areas, compromising the growth of your company in general because you can’t keep up with all the demands. Outsourcing certain areas of your business will leave your resources intact so you can divert them into areas that really matter, such as the core activities that gave you the capability to expand in the first place. You can’t do without back-office services so simply letting others handle those services for you will resolve a lot of problems you might be having.

Allows for Quick Growth

Letting you become more efficient as your business grows, you will need to increase back-office functions as well in order to cope. However, keeping up with those back-office functions may end up derailing your growth because of the upkeep. For example, an expanding doctor’s office will get a lot more patients if more insurance plans are accepted. However, there are different insurance providers and a million terms and conditions to keep up with and for an ordinary office assistant, this can be overwhelming. Opting to outsource the medical billing portion of the business will help the doctor streamline his services and become more efficient in the overall. Efficiency also turns to savings in the long run because you don’t end up wasting resources for various activities.

Decreases HR Overhead Costs

Letting you reduce overhead costs as you grow, so will your needs. Unfortunately, catering to these needs can be costly. Consider this example as to how outsourcing solutions can help you: Growing as a business means you will need a bigger office. But office space is expensive. Outsourcing some of the back-office functions you have will eliminate the need for more office space because those functions you outsourced no longer have to be performed in your office. Not needing more office space will then let you stick to your old costs (letting you save by default) while still getting all the back-office functions you need.

Let’s You Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Staffing flexibility there are certain functions in your business that are cyclical or seasonal in demand. Hence, you only need people to work for you for certain periods of time. Having to bring in an employee just to cover the spike can be tedious and will waste precious resources because your resources are being diverted to the employment process instead of the job you just need done. Outsourcing will let you skip out on all the hassle by going straight to having the job done. And the sooner the job is done, the sooner your business will benefit from it.

There are five major benefits — OUTSOURCING

Besides cost savings — that a company can gain through outsourcing, according to an article on IT Outsourcing News’ website.

These benefits includes access to a global talent pool; building a strategic partnership; tapping new markets; advancing innovation skills and reorganizing the traditional business model.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to justify outsourcing just to save money on labor. Some organizations, such as those in the public sector, find that they must outsource solely for the labor savings because that’s the only measurable way to justify the change to the stakeholders.

However, once the outsourcing relationship evolves, this arrangement can do more than save money. It can actually produce efficiencies and increase value for the stakeholders (and in the case of the public sector, the taxpayers). Once these organizations have measurable differences around productivity and additional services, those can also be reported to the stakeholders.

Businesses in the private sector can begin their outsourcing experience motivated by savings and efficiencies. How? Because they can access worldwide talent for higher-end and analytical needs. For example, Brazil has a plethora of great attorneys, engineers and scientists. Adding an offshore partner can add value around services and products that can’t be done in some regions. Businesses in the private sector can outsource the weakest parts of their company so that they can better focus on their strengths.

Source: IT Oursourcing News, February 2012