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Whatever your business, it's likely there is part of it that can be outsourced to a third party, freeing you and your employees to concentrate on your core business. Outsourcing is not just a money saving exercise – it can also improve quality, increase productivity and expand flexibility.

What to consider:

  • Keep your core: Don't outsource what you consider to be your company's selling point. If great customer service forms your company profile it makes sense to have enough friendly, knowledgeable staff in-house to make good on that promise. If your business is defined by rock bottom prices a web-based virtual assistant or automated phone system might make sense.

  • Move slowly: Don't sign two-year contracts before testing performance and the relationship. To get a feel for the process and to accustom your staff to the idea, first try outsourcing a stand-alone project then move on to other areas.

  • Don't just think of costs: Think of the whole picture when finding who to outsource to. Lower costs are no guarantee of success. Look at expertise, flexibility, industry knowledge and the ability to earn trust.

  • Form a partnership: Hire a partner, not just a provider. Performance measures and relationships are important to a long-term, smooth-running partnership.

  • Monitor: Consider appointing a staff liaison from your company to manage your outsourcing relationships. You want to outsource functions but not accountability. The large majority of companies who outsource are actively involved in the outsourcing arrangements.

  • Watch out for hidden costs: Such as paying expenses for laying off staff, overtime costs for remaining employees who may now have more work to do and phone costs for remote workers.

  • Be prepared for challenges: It takes a while to build the relationship and for employees to adjust but outsourcing can be a ideal solution for you and your business when handled well.