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Outsourcing work flow?

Outsource Tasks or Delegate Internally?

When you start a business, and also later when you are consolidating, there is a question you’ll have to ask often, and that is whether a task should be outsourced or done internally. This is an important topic, because it has a lot to do with choosing the priorities of your business.

• The classical company integrating system

Until recently, companies tended to integrate all possible functions. Obviously, that was a more pronounced trend in medium to large companies, simply because they had more resources and many of the support functions of the core business had a sufficient volume for one or more jobs, (payroll, travel organiser, equipment cleaning, photocopying service, a lawyer, an accounting department and many more.)

• The trend: specialisation

Over the years, things have been changing gradually. Some services were outsourced before others. For example, instead of having a person on the payroll dedicated to organising trips, many companies chose to have a contract with a travel agency. In some cases, the agency placed one of its employees in the offices of the company, in others, it was all done remotely. As a result, not only did the company save resources, but benefited from the expertise of a specialist travel company.
This same phenomenon has happened in many other support functions. Over time, companies have realised that it was more interesting to devote resources to core business activities (producing and selling, basically), while it saved time and worked better having specialised suppliers outsourced.

• When to outsource and when not to?

The question is not whether to outsource some services or trying to do everything in procedure. Many functions have no other option to outsource because you have a sufficient volume of activity to have a person dedicated to it, albeit part-time. Then, even if you had the time, in many other cases you would be paying much more with outsourcing, and not benefit from specialisation with these companies.

The real question is when you have to choose to outsource and when not. You should analyse which are the most strategic functions of your business. Essentially, you should take maintain a direct and immediate control over what constitutes the heart of your business. On the other hand there are many support functions that today cannot be outsourced because the volume of work involved is too small to interest a foreign company, even with new technologies emerging every day.

• A recurring question

The issue of outsourcing activities or not is a question you have to ask regularly. The environment changes, your business changes, your priorities change. At some point you may decide to rethink an internal function you had outsourced because you decided it is more strategic now than in the past, and vice versa.
Companies are living structures, and the model is changing constantly. There is no right answer forever. Everything is about adaptation.

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