With the economy still in turmoil, many companies continue to look for ways to save money in any way possible, from cutting employees to reducing hours or cutting back on any employee perks that were still available. Naturally, one area that many companies think about cutting back revolves around support or administrative tasks. These types of tasks often seem to be somewhat “ mindless,” in that the impression is that they can be done by anyone who’s reasonably intelligent and can input data or make phone calls. Also naturally, in these days when so much of what companies do is outsourced, thoughts turn to the idea of outsourcing these administrative and support tasks. Is this a good idea or not? Let’s look at the pros and cons.
The key benefit to outsourcing, of course, is that it is generally significantly less expensive than having the same tasks done by an in-house employee. Does outsourcing always mean having a call center in India? Not necessarily – it can also simply mean having a staffing firm handle these chores, and letting them handle issues of benefits and so on, while your company pays a flat rate. Even if your company winds up paying a higher hourly rate than you might have paid an in-house employee, the savings from not having to pay benefits would be substantial. In addition, your company gets to avoid the aggravation of dealing with personnel issues, and if any issues do come up or you feel that the work of someone isn’t up to par, you can simply terminate that contract with no repercussions.
Another benefit to this kind of outsourcing is that in fact, in many cases, the work involved is relatively simple and doesn’t require an inordinate amount of skill. Furthermore, with this type of work there can be a great deal of downtime, and so you might wind up having someone on staff full-time when only a few hours of work a day are actually needed. With outsourcing, you pay for exactly the hours of work that are needed.
So what are the drawbacks? One primary one is that your contract employee won’t know the ins and outs of your company, and they won’t be motivated to learn or care about them, because that’s really not their job. They don’t have a future with your company, so they’re being paid to handle some support or administrative tasks and that’s it. Set your expectations accordingly.
Furthermore, if you do go with the least expensive option and, say, outsource to India, your simpler tasks might be managed well, but those that are more complex or require additional explanation might not go quite as smoothly. Often there’s a steep learning curve with certain tasks, and there’s no guarantee that after you’ve explained everything to one person, that you’d have the same person handling that particular activity the next time you need to outsource that task.
In summary, only you as a company can decide if the benefits of outsourcing outweight the drawbacks and risks.