How to outsource effectively

It’s a great goal to reach in your business when you realise that you’re too busy to manage everything yourself, and you need to look at outsourcing some tasks to cope with the workload.

The benefits are obvious, not only will it help to ease the pressure, you can also get a team on board who are experts in what they do, and will perhaps do the tasks way better than you!

Using freelancers and other companies who aren’t employees means that you avoid having to deal with lots of HR tasks, you don’t need to pay holiday pay, National Insurance, sick pay, pension etc.

However, there are also some drawbacks. Using people who aren’t employed by you means you have less control over when they are doing the work or how they are doing it. Not being part of your organisation means that they might not necessarily get you, your brand, values and essence.

So it’s important to ensure that to get the best out of any work that you outsource, that you outsource the right tasks to the right people with the best brief.

Dealing with those points in that order then, what work should you outsource?

You should make a list of everything that you do and split it up into various categories. Those tasks that you like doing and have to be you that does them, those that you like doing but shouldn’t really be doing them, and those that you can’t do well, and take forever to do. It’s those in the latter category which should be outsourced first, followed by those in the middle.

Something that can be done by someone else in half the time that you would spend, by someone who is better qualified than you is the perfect task to outsource. A typical example here, and something which is usually the first to be outsourced is your accounting. Poring over figures, and filling in a tax return could be done in minutes rather than hours by an accountant. So why wouldn’t you pay someone to do that for you?

What you need to do is to work out what you hourly rate is, and how many hours it would take to do a certain task. If you can save money by outsourcing to someone else, then it’s definitely worth doing!

So, once you’ve worked that out, then how do you find people who can do these tasks for you? It’s always best asking fellow business owners who they use, and ask them if they can show you examples of their work, so you can see how they might do the task for you. Ask if they have ever missed deadlines, or how they’ve responded to the brief they set, it’s a great way of ascertaining if they might be right for you. Failing that, there are plenty of websites, such as Upwork, People per Hour or Guru.com where you can post a job that you are looking to fill, and people will apply. Then you can see feedback from other people who have used them. Interview them over Skype so you can see them in person, and get a feel of how they might work for you. Ask for examples of past work.

Once you think you have found someone, then you need to ensure that you are giving them the best brief possible, so that there’s no chance they could misinterpret the brief, or that they don’t feel they have to ask you lots of questions to understand what you want them to do.

One of the best ways to brief someone is to film the task you want them to do. Again, there are a number of apps that allow you to do this such as screencast o matic, or camstudio. You basically record your screen, and talk through the task, showing how you do it whilst actually doing it! Then they can watch it over and again if they need, it really helps.

Give them as much information as possible, even background on the company, your vision and values are important for anyone who is doing work for you to read through. Give them access to the information they request, essentially, you should consider them an employee for the purposes of them being able to undertake the task effectively and efficiently.

Preparation is key, and yes, at the beginning, it will take time to brief someone properly. It may not seem worth it, but trust me, the time spent will pay you back, and then some if you do your homework properly, and brief appropriately.

If you want some advice on how to implement systems and processes making outsourcing as painless as possible, then please get in touch, I can help you build your virtual team quickly and effectively.

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