Outsourcing vs hiring – 7 questions you need to answer before you decide

A quick google search of the term “outsourcing vs hiring” produces over 25 million results. Top results that stick out include: 10 outsourcing trends to watch in 2016 | CIO; Outsourcing Statistics: The Pros and Cons – Udemy Blog; and What if OUTSOURCING is the Biggest Growth Hack of 2016?

As printers, we are used to selling the virtues of outsourcing. But what happens when you’re the one who needs help? What happens when your staff is stretched too thin? Perhaps you need to refresh your website. Or maybe you need help managing your social media, or your IT needs, or your accounts payable.

The fact of the matter is that at some point something will need to get done that you do not have the ability to deliver, whether it’s due to technical, equipment, or human resources. Outsourcing allows you and your own employees to focus on other, more important responsibilities without getting tied up with extra work that can potentially be done more efficiently and inexpensively by a talented professional, or even an entire team of skilled workers.

Consider these statistics:

78% of small businesses believe hiring freelancers gives them an advantage over competitors. (Source: Elance Survey)

Outsourcing can increase productivity and competitiveness 10- to 100-fold. (Source: Economist.com)

Of course there are some pitfalls involved with outsourcing, including loyalty, information security, cost, and simply finding the right partner. Is there a magic bullet? Some would argue yes. Personally, I would say, “it depends”. Do you have the budget to outsource? More importantly, can you afford not to?

Some companies look to outsource and/or streamline processes as a way to reduce headcount… and that’s a whole other topic for a whole other day. I’m talking about the times when you have truly hit the wall. When members of your company, sometimes entire teams, have simply run out of steam. Their workload is maxed. Morale is starting to wane and frustration is setting in.

So how do you know if it’s time to hire vs outsource?

Think about the impacts of leaving things “status quo” vs recognizing when it’s time to ask for help by answering the following:

What are you outsourcing? There’s a big difference between outsourcing a call centre vs getting help managing your website.

How much work is there? If you don’t have enough work to hire someone for at least half time, it’s usually better to outsource. (Source: Allbusiness.com)

Are your needs project-based or more long-term? A retainer-based relationship gives you the flexibility to execute on a variety of tasks/projects whereas a project-based relationship has a definitive beginning and end.

Who is going to manage the vendor/provider? It’s important to have someone overseeing the project and tracking milestones and deliverables – even if that person is a project manager that you outsource!

How will you measure success? Regardless whether you are dealing with an internal resource or an outsourced vendor, it’s important to have clear and measurable goals that are regularly reviewed.

Who do you trust? Some organizations prefer to trust sensitive data and projects with internal resources only. Others recognize the value that true partnerships bring to the table and treat their vendor as an extension of the team.

How many hats are too many? Are you spreading your current staff too thin? If productivity is suffering, that could result in missed targets, mediocre output and low morale. What impact is this having on your business?

The decision to outsource vs hiring an in-house resource is not one to be made lightly. If you’re not sure which solution is best for your business, then consider a trial run, after which you measure everything from results achieved, lessons learned, impact on ROI and employee impact. To paraphrase an old saying: If you always do what you always did, then you’ll always get what you always got.

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Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies of all sizes achieve business success. A consultant and founder of Joanne Gore Communications, Joanne is spearheading the initiative to help the print industry drive business now, and in the future, with programs that generate awareness, customer engagement and growth. Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121