Outsourcing

When Did Outsourcing Become a Four-Letter Word?

Small businesses do it.  Fortune 500 Companies do it.  Even the U.S. government does it.  Yet few people talk about it openly.  Outsourcing is one of the most prevalent business practices in the America, yet the air around it is nothing but smoke and mirrors.  The secretive nature surrounding the practice seems to have given it a very bad name, especially in the recent years of economic recession.  Outsourcing has become a venomous word in the business world; one feared by employees and tiptoed around by executives.  This bad reputation has fueled rampant misconceptions of the practice, and has caused many businesses to shy away from it.

Many people, as soon as they hear the word outsourcing, conjure up images of sweatshops in far away third world countries, sketchy labor practices and the loss of American jobs.  This practice, known as offshoring, is a small fraction of the world of outsourcing, and one that’s showing signs of decline in recent years.  American companies both large and small are recognizing the disadvantages of shipping labor overseas.  Most recently, GE brought some manufacturing of major appliances back to the United States.  Even a tech giant like Google experimented with producing its Nexus Q device right in the United States.  The advantages of having your labor and employees located in the same country are absolutely undeniable, and it’s not just production and manufacturing jobs.

The term outsourcing is itself a very broad one.  It’s not just confined to manufacturing or service jobs.  Literally defined, outsourcing is entrusting any task or process thats a part of your business plan to an external source to either supplement or complete it entirely.  If your business has used an accountant to help file your taxes, consulted an attorney about legal matters or even contracted a graphic designer to design your logo, you’ve outsourced.  Most likely, you’ve outsourced to professionals right here in the United States.

When it comes to outsourcing, the key word is “professionals.”  Going to an outside source for your business needs is exactly what your customers do when they patronize your business.  Your business holds a level of expertise in an area where they need it, and they’re willing to pay their hard earned money for access to it.  Let’s say your business is a clothing manufacturer.  Your clothes are all hand made in the United States and your designer has an eye for the latest trends.  Your customers are willing to pay you for your expertise, because they don’t have the means or experience that you do to create clothing thats in style and properly fitting.  Outsourcing your business needs to other experts is the exact same concept.

One fairly common misconception about outsourcing is the idea of inferior quality of work.  Many people in the business world fret that because the contracted worker is not directly affiliated with their business, the work they produce will not be of the same quality as someone who was.  Here, it is important to keep in mind that the people who you are outsourcing work too are businesses just like yours. They make a living providing the services that they do, just the same way that you do.  This concept should be kept in mind especially when taking into account specialized areas of expertise, such as marketing, or writing services.  That writer that you’ve contracted to generate your website content lives and dies by their pen.  If he or she does not produce quality work consistently and efficiently, they won’t be in business for very long.  Self-preservation is one of the strongest motivating factors that can impact a human being’s decision making, and that is exactly what is motivating the expert you contract.

On a broader spectrum, if the expert you contract to help you progress your business is part of a collective or an agency, there is yet another layer of security behind your choice.  Again, like your business, the agency that employed your contracted expert is a well-managed machine.  It has to be to handle the high volume of diverse work that comes through its offices, just the same way your clothing company has to keep up with production.  And just as your clothing company gets paid per piece of clothing you sell, the company you contract also gets paid per project they complete.  It is in their best interest to complete it in a timely manner and in the best manner possible to earn your repeat business.  Many collectives and agencies like Premier VEBA employ a top notch management staff to ensure efficiency in projects.

On top of ensured efficiency, contracted experts are often some of the top in their field, with some of the most finely tuned skill-sets available today.  They are working on a wide variety of projects at once to sustain a living for themselves and are honing their skill set more and more as each project is completed.  In your clothing business, you wouldn’t hire a screen printer to print AND stitch your garments together, although they work in the same general field.  Why would you hire a web designer design your website AND write your content?  By outsourcing your project to a collective or agency, you ensure that each piece of your business puzzle gets handled by the proper, specialized staff member.

Outsourcing holds the potential not only for quality gains, but monetary gains as well.  Keeping specialized staff on retainer pay or salary when they are not needed 40 hours per week is disadvantageous to your business’finances.  Outsourced employees only work when you need them, and you only pay them when they work.  Every dollar you spend on labor goes further, and your full-time employees are free to work on revenue-generating tasks.  Best of all, once you find your go to source for projects, you can set it and forget it.  As a business owner, you’ve got a thousand things on your mind that should have been done two days ago.  Any sort of relief from this frenzy is invaluable.  Outsourcing is a more than viable solution to free up your time and get things done right.

What has your experience been with outsourcing?  Has it helped your business?  Let us know in the comments, and let’s take outsourcing off the list of dirty words.

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