Outsourcing and offshoring: Is it worthwhile?
In recent times, there has been a good deal of debate as to whether the cheaper costs of offshoring are outweighed by the benefits of outsourcing locally.
It is evident that not all cases of offshoring have been beneficial, with some end users struggling to communicate with telemarketers who have a poor understanding of local customs and language terminologies.
Whilst there is evidence that offshoring may not work well in some industries, it does work well in others. Outsourcing and offshoring can help much smaller organisations and solo businesses to match the performance of larger organisations because of the ability to increase their manpower and resources.
One particular industry which has a capacity to work well in both offshoring and outsourcing mediums is the Virtual Assistant (VA) industry – an industry that came about by combining Personal Assistants with technologies developed through the Internet.
Whilst initially a VA was a personal assistant with a secretarial and/or administrative background, their serviceability has grown considerably. Global research shows services provided by a VA include:
"Outsourcing and offshoring can help much smaller organisations and solo businesses to match the performance of larger organisations because of the ability to increase their manpower and resources."
Bookkeeping, graphic design, events management, association management, phone answering services, copywriting, ghost-writing, real estate support, database development and management, website development and management, Internet research, PowerPoint presentations, troubleshooting, concierge services, travel arrangements and risk management.
In short, if it can be done on a computer, it’s likely someone can provide this service virtually. Depending on the service required, it won’t always be necessary to have someone in the same city or state, let alone the same country, to perform those activities for you. In fact, the time zones around the world can work to your favour if timing is short for your project.
Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.
Digital transcriptions are an ideal example. If you have a recording that can be converted, or already is, in digital format, sending this file via email, or making it available online to be downloaded by a VA means that the transcription can be typed whilst you’re sleeping.
Not only can you use timing differences around the world to your advantage, there could be considerable cost savings for the finished work, depending on where the work was done .
When administrative work gets too much for many business owners, their first thought has been to engage an employee. Slowly and surely, though, many are beginning to realise the benefits of outsourcing and/or offshoring.
Gone are the overheads of taxation, work cover, superannuation and insurances – these are all catered for by the virtual assistants instead. It is in their interests to look after your business, as you are their client. They work in their own offices, so there is no need to ensure you have suitable equipment, software, furniture and space for this operator.
Things you need to think about when outsourcing or offshoring include:
- What is your planned outcome for this business relationship?
- Will it be a short-term or long-term arrangement?
- Is a contract required in the case of IP or confidentiality for example?
- What are the skills and experiences of the service provider you are engaging?
- Are you prepared to look at this service provider as ‘one of your people’?
- Will you need more than one VA because of the services you require?
Working relationships of this type can be very fruitful. I have been working as a VA for over 13 years and some of my clients have been with me for over a decade. I have not met all of my clients face-to-face but we have a great working relationship. The time it takes to build the relationship is definitely worthwhile.
What’s your experience of working with a VA?