In the world of business, there are many times when a task can and should be outsourced to another firm. Reasons for choosing to offload work to an outside company are numerous and include available personnel, equipment, or facilities. Some duties are better left to a specialist that is skilled in the focused area required of the task. Outsourcing can save time and money, in addition to increasing productivity.

In the last decade, outsourcing has grown, with more than 2 million jobs outsourced in 2013. The percentage of IT jobs outsourced was 43%, along with 38% in research and development. Offshore distribution made up 26%, while call center jobs stood at 12% overseas.


Outsourcing Isn’t Just for Big Business

Outsourcing has been largely viewed as a strategy employed only by big businesses; however, modern technology has made it increasingly more accessible for small companies as well. For many small firms, utilizing outside contractors has proven to be instrumental in increasing growth and productivity, as well as reflecting positively on their bottom lines. More and more small businesses are outsourcing as technology advances and allows professionals to work from anywhere in the world.

The availability of qualified professionals such as graphic designers, bookkeepers, transcriptionists, and IT specialists also plays a key role in the popularity of outsourcing. This is due, in part, to the trend of employees that have made an exodus from the corporate world.

The First Steps to Outsourcing

Starting the process of outsourcing can be difficult and time-consuming. There are many things to consider when deciding to seek help from outside professionals. The tradeoff is, of course, the increased efficiency that results when essential aspects of a business are handled by an outside source that specializes in that aspect of the business.

The Right Time to Outsource

The question of when is the right time to begin outsourcing is different for every company. Many firms have staff to handle all daily activities but require outside assistance to undertake some new project or expansion. When the current staff is unable to perform the daily duties required of them, it could be time to consider outsourcing.

Very small businesses should begin outsourcing from the beginning. These businesses will benefit from starting out with a bookkeeper and a virtual assistant. From there, the team can grow to include a web designer, graphic designer, ghostwriter, project manager, and executive assistant.

Types of Tasks to Outsource

These days, nearly any task can be outsourced. It has become relatively easy to find a freelancer or contractor for just about anything. In fact, you are probably already outsourcing some small business tasks such as background and criminal checks or payroll administration

Some things you should not outsource. You should take a long look at your business and determine its strengths and weaknesses. Anything considered one of the company’s strengths should be handled internally. This ensures your firm has something that customers cannot get anywhere else. As Shreyes Kejariwal once stated, “Our primary goal is to make sure our customers experience real value from the solutions and services delivered.” This should be your goal as well.

For example, if your company offers a product, you should not outsource anything related to its design. The design process and all related activities should be handled by in-house research and development.

The Three Outsourcing Categories

Tasks that should be outsourced fall into three categories. Highly skilled or executive level positions can be outsourced. You could have a CFO-level executive provide financial analysis to ensure the bookkeeper is doing a good job. Repetitive tasks, such as data entry, shipping inventory, and accounts payable, can be outsourced. Finally, specialized knowledge, such as IT support, can be outsourced.

The Right Contractor

Technology has made it much easier to find capable outsourcing providers; however, selecting the right partner is vital to the success of your business. Start from within your own network. Ask other business owners for their recommendation of potential partners that offer the services you need. Online networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are good to use for expanding your network and seeking recommendations.

Outsourcing is becoming a more popular way of doing business around the world and anyone from large corporations to small businesses can reap the rewards it can offer. Offloading some of the repetitive tasks and bringing in specialists will give you an advantage in your industry and save you a ton of money. Choosing the right provider will ensure you increase growth and productivity, while providing a nice boost to your bottom line.

Read more: How to Balance In-House and Outsourced Small Business IT