What Should My Small Business Continue Doing in-House and What Should Be Outsourced?
Running a tech-related small-to-midsized business (SMB) can pose challenges. You may frequently feel — or get feedback from team members who say — there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. That’s a frequent scenario for many SMBs, and it’s one outsourcing can help overcome.
Getting outsourced help is not the right decision in every case, however. Here are three things to consider doing internally and three that could be a good fit for outside assistance.
What to Do Internally
Several departments and processes are best when kept in-house. In general, these are things that either deal with proprietary information, need quick responses or require a deep understanding of company operations. Here are three things to do internally.
Experts commonly warn that you should never outsource your core competencies. It’s particularly important to follow that guideline in the tech industry, where so many companies have proprietary inventions. Maybe artificial intelligence is a key part of what your business offers, and the way it uses it is unlike anything else on the market.
Consider a situation where an outside party has access to company secrets and lets them leak — whether consciously or unconsciously. Plus, the more outside people you have working on a foundational part of your business, the easier it is for quality to decrease over time. Keeping your core competencies in-house lets you exert more control and focus on what makes your company stand out.
2. Customer Service
Tech businesses with exceptionally innovative offerings can still fall short without stellar customer service. Clients are probably the heart of your business, after all. They’re what keep your enterprise profitable and make it possible to seize new opportunities. Many companies do outsource customer service, but that decision doesn’t necessarily work well for them.
Letting an internal team tackle customer service enables acting promptly to detect issues and make the necessary adjustments. If a high percentage of customers express unhappiness about something, you can immediately start working to make it right. Outsourcing makes it harder to spot problems, and too much time could pass before you hear about them.
3. Responsibilities Without Well-Defined Processes
Company decision-makers typically weigh a variety of factors when choosing which roles to outsource or keep in-house. Something that could help you decide is whether a job has a clear-cut process to go with it. If your company is still ironing out the details, or the workflow changes a bit depending on particular parameters, it’s best to keep the job in-house.
On the other hand, if you can give a service provider a guide or checklist to follow when working for you, it’s easier to maintain quality control and answer any questions that arise about specific steps. A process that often changes could become even more varied once an outside party gets involved. It could then be difficult to pinpoint where things went wrong if something goes amiss.
What to Outsource
The suggestions above illustrate that there are excellent reasons for keeping some of your duties in-house. That’s not to say you should consider outsourcing out of the question. Giving certain tasks to people outside of your company can support business growth by providing you with more time to focus on specialized needs, like research and development or moving into a new market. Here are three areas to consider outsourcing.
No matter what your tech SMB sells, customers will likely expect high-quality products to arrive on time. Choosing a manufacturing partner can help you meet those expectations and relieve stress, too. That entity can handle all aspects of your manufacturing process, meaning you’re never unsure about your project’s status.
Since manufacturing facilities have cutting and fabrication specialists, you can use their tools and expertise to make parts to your precise specifications. Some providers also offer rush services that can have your order ready in as little as a day. Many manufacturers have equipment that can streamline the design and manufacturing processes through options like 3D printing, too.
2. Content Creation
You can boost the success of your company by creating an editorial calendar. It helps you plan what kind of content to make, who will produce it and when to release it. Sharing content regularly brings people back to your website to see the newly published information. However, offering new content on a consistent schedule with an internal team is often challenging due to the work involved, especially if only a few people handle the responsibility.
You’ll need to find candidates who understand your subject matter and voice so you can free up your schedule. Think about what kind of content you want to provide, too. If you’re eager to do a video series but don’t have any internal production expertise, outsourcing makes sense. You can also give all content creators access to a style guide and update it as necessary.
3. Payroll Processing
Your employees appreciate knowing their paychecks will come on time and in the right amounts. Many people schedule their monthly bills strategically based on when their work payments arrive. Choosing to outsource this responsibility relieves you of the administrative tasks associated with getting people paid.
A payroll processing company can also assist with your tax requirements by submitting the required records. Keeping payroll processing in-house could prove counterproductive because of the amount of time and attention the task requires. Using an outsourced company could save you time and money.
Supporting Your Company’s Success
It’s common to feel like you’re juggling too many responsibilities and can’t spend enough time helping your company stay competitive. Ponder the suggestions here if you’re considering using outsourcing services to strike a better balance, and spend time with the decision-makers at your business to get their input. Once you do, the direction you take should be clear.
Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. She loves taking her Goldendoodle on long runs and checking out local flea markets. Visit her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.