Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finding The Right Outsource Provider

Your outsourcing success depends on how well you manage the process before and after signing in a contractor. While technology has made it much easier to find dependable outsource providers, the selection process has remained to be the most important step. Whether the contractor will be on board for a month or a year, take the time to make sure the person can do the work and the partner relationship would be satisfying. Here are some insights in finding the best fit:

• You may start the search in your own network. Ask you business associates if they can recommend a provider offering the services that you need. A good recommendation from your network usually is the quickest way of securing potential candidates. Though referrals are helpful, nonetheless, you have to consider that what worked for others, might not necessarily work for you. 

• List the Jobs in the Right Places. A number of online services such as oDesk, Freelance and eLance serve as virtual marketplaces for contractors and business owners to connect and embark on working relationships. These sites provide full statistics, test and competency scores which allows clients to sort and filter for certain skill sets of the contractors that list with them.

• Interview prospective contractors by asking questions to determine if they know your business. Consider the contractor’s or service company's knowledge of the entirety of your business, its willingness to customize service, and its compatibility with your firm's business culture.

• Test Capabilities. You have got to know what they can do and not do for you. Ask for work samples to help you understand if your prospect matches your expectations. This would give you an indication on their expertise and the quality of their output.

• Check References. Pay most attention to feedbacks received from other employers. Outsourcing sites usually allow you to see how previous clients rated prospective vendors' work, as well as detailed profiles of the contractors. This doesn’t mean though that new service providers are off the pool. Remember, all seasoned providers were once starters who successfully delivered.

• Check for post development support. It will help foster long term partner relationships if the contractor can commit to resolve any issues that you might have after the task has been completed.

The decision to engage in outsourcing effectively extends your availability, therefore your choice of outsource partner should work as an extension of you. At the end of the selection process, you will have to settle for the person whom you believe will feel the same sense of pride and ownership in the work as you do.

CT Virtual Office Services
Quality and Reliability in the Virtual World
Email:   ctvoservices@gmail.com
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10 Most Outsourced Jobs

Outsourcing has definitely reshaped the work landscape.  The continued advancement of technology as well has spurred the growth of this alternative work arrangement by providing avenues that promote faster and efficient communication even among remote parties.  Simply defined, outsourcing is the process of contracting a task or a specific business function to a third party.  It has been acknowledged as an effective business strategy for companies to cut costs yet benefit from the skills and expertise of an external labor pool without having to hire additional full time employees.

Though an effective strategy, not all jobs however are suitable for outsourcing.  There are certain functions that are best kept within an in-house structure and there are also those that can yield better results if outsourced.  Corporate decision makers, small time business owners and entrepreneurs have been known to contract third party service providers for the following most outsourced jobs (arranged in no particular order):

1. Data Entry – Data entry jobs do not have stringent skill set requirements.  Data entry workers essentially must have good typing skills, good listening skills, good grammar and must be detail oriented.  Data entry jobs are needed by a wide range of industries.  Jobs that require proofreading and copying of records can also be classified in this category.

2. Security – Most institutions, if not all, routinely engage the services of a private security firm to handle their security requirement, i.e. security guards and bodyguards.    Doing so allow them to reduce liability and training expenses than if they had full time security staffs in their payroll.

3. Manufacturing – A growing number of companies have been setting up production facilities offshore because of cheaper production costs in other countries.  Some companies, on the other hand, have opted to outsource manufacturing or assembly of a certain part of their product only keeping the rest of the business in their home shores.  Suffice it to say that gone are the days when a company’s production facility is attached to their main office.

4. Accounting – Tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, benefits and bills processing are financial jobs that are often outsourced to an individual or a corporation.  This has remained feasible because these jobs have basically 2 requirements: data from clients and knowledge of existing laws and regulations that govern these structures.

5. Web Programming and Web Designing - These jobs are oftentimes outsourced because of the temporary and sporadic nature of their work.  In launching a company website for example, web programmers and web designers are intensely involved in the conceptualization and construction stage. Once the site is launched however, there is minimal requirement for their services.

6. Human Resources – Small businesses and start-up businesses these days choose to focus on their core business functions leaving management of rank and file employees to an outsource manning agency.  This way, they do away with time consuming tasks relating to hiring, performance monitoring, payroll, benefits management and the likes and instead focus their resources more in the development of their core strengths and implementation of their business strategies.

7. Technical Support – Companies like Microsoft and Apple have large customer bases that tend to create a great amount of traffic online or through phone wanting technical support.  Outsourcing technical support staff has proven to be a viable solution in addressing their customer concerns.  Outsourced staffs are trained to analyze and troubleshoot a variety of technical questions and are often aided by a pre-set list of questions.

8. Customer  Service – Similar to technical support functions, customer service jobs are also often outsourced as the skills required to maintain and dispense of such functions can easily be trained and monitored.  Outsourced customer service staffs mostly handle customer questions and complaints, and note data on a feedback mechanism.  Call centers fall into this category.

9. Virtual Assistance – Virtual assistants are the modern day secretaries.  Business owners, corporate managers and business executives who are busy and are always on the go have discovered the efficiency and convenience of having a virtual assistant.  These VA’s come with good organizational skills, exceptional oral and written communication skills and have good typing skills. Most VA’s are involved with a number of administrative duties, i.e. appointment setting, travel planning, email handling, research and simple business correspondence that executives are best off delegating.

10. Writing/Web Content Writing – Writing is an invaluable skill.  There is also a veritable pool of writing talent online that one can tap on.  Web content articles, e-books, blogs, press releases, speeches and newsletter production are often contracted to freelancers without compromising quality and timeliness.

On a retrospect, the jobs that made it on this list are those that fall into extreme categories --- those that require minimal skills and those that require highly skilled manpower.  Also these jobs are those that do not impact greatly on the core functions of a business organization when outsourced.  It is essential to consider these factors as outsourcing jobs involve a relegation of control over the functions.  Some jobs are also sporadic and seasonal and are thus more cost-effective if outsourced.  One thing is for certain though; each business organization faces its own set of challenges.  Keeping an open mind to outsourcing as a strategic option could spell a huge difference on the bottom line.  After all, someone somewhere can most probably do it better --- cost included.

CT Virtual Office Services
Quality and Reliability in the Virtual World
Email:   ctvoservices@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/ctvoservices