The best tasks to outsource are not critical or time sensitive

Outsource everything!
Some people say, “Outsource everything!” However, if you want quality work done, you can’t really do that. Keep in mind that if you outsource tasks to companies far away, you might not be in constant touch with the workers and you might not even know who is working on your project. If you have something critical, or that requires carefulness or knowledge, you’re in trouble. Imagine that you hire a software company in India to work on your online database. Let’s say that Rahul knows what he is doing and he is the guy assigned to your task. When Rahul quits (and everyone named Rahul who I’ve ever worked with always seems to quit in the middle of a project) then the next guy might not be as good as Rahul.

Let’s say you have some critical phone work to do. If you search the world for that perfect agent, you will waste a lot of time searching only to have them quit at the critical moment. It has happened to me many times.

Another time I outsourced tasks that needed to get done on time. The tasks dragged on and on endlessly and I had to do the work myself when I was very busy. Once again I had made a mistake. So, what is the secret of outsourcing?

Outsourcing time sensitive work doesn’t work!
You can’t outsource work that is time sensitive unless you are absolutely sure that the company you hired will get the work done correctly and on time. That means that if someone quits, that a replacement of equivalent skills will take over. If Rahul knows your site and Rajesh suddenly takes over, even if Rajesh has a few years experience, he doesn’t know your site — so you are in trouble. If you have phone work which has to get done on time and the girl doing the work is sick that week, then you have to do the work yourself. My suggestion is don’t give time sensitive work to others in the first place. Find a very efficient way to do that work yourself.

You also can’t outsource critical work
Let’s say that something can be done at any time, but there will be consequences if the work is done poorly. If you know your work well, but others don’t, there is no way they will do it as well as you can. If you know someone well, and they perform the work almost as well, as well, or better than you can, then you can use them. But, outsourcing to a stranger for critical work is a recipe for disaster. Whomever the BPO company uses for your job will either do a poor job, or if they do a good job they will by definition quit and be replaced by someone who does a bad job. In the long run, the average quality work from outsourcing companies is rarely good. I make it a policy to only use outsourced workers if I have the opportunity to get to know the worker personally. The minute they quit, the entire company starts their reputation all over from scratch with me as I interview the new workers. If I don’t like the new workers, I just fire the entire BPO on the spot! Otherwise my work will be shoddy and who needs that?

Dividing tasks that you thought were a single task is key
I have a task that I call welcome calls. It is very time consuming as my directory has 300 new members per month and I call them all twice. I call people to introduce myself to them, and to get their information straight as well as to see if they have any behavioral characteristics that I like or dislike including how they answer the phone. If they say, “hullo,” I don’t like that, but I do like it if they introduce their company name like a professional. After some long though and a discussion with a friend who runs a social media company, I decided to break my task into pieces. I’m going to have an auto-caller do the initial call so that I get a reading regarding if they answered their phone or not. The auto-call can also instruct them to email me for their password so they can spruce up the info on their listing. The second call will ask them if they want to be on the newsletter. The third call will be by an assistant to fill in whatever info is not yet there. That way I only have to do the fourth call, and I will remove most of the listings with un-filled out information before I do the fourth call which will reduce the quantity of my calling by 70% at least. So, what does this have to do with outsourcing? I can outsource the third call, and automate the other calls. That is a great way to conserve on my labor time.

So, what should you ideally outsource?
(1) Research on social media. Finding tweets to retweet or articles to share. You might want to double check their work as they don’t know your industry as well as you do.
(2) Additional information calls. If you have to call your clients for backup information which is not life threatening or time sensitive, that is a great thing to outsource.
(3) Article Writing. If you run a blog, you can accumulate a lot of articles long before you publish them. This is a great task to outsource not only to save you time, but also to have multiple writing styles on your blog which will make it more interesting.
(4) Test sites or experimental programming tasks. If you are hiring a new programming company, if they screw up a test project, you have little to lose, but a lot to gain in price savings if they do a good job. If they screw up your main site, you could be out of business or have many technical glitches or messy code which will haunt you in the long run.
(5) H.R. If you find companies who have access to great workers, they might be able to find you people fast when you are too busy to look. Or, if they are not so responsive, they might waste your time when you don’t even have minutes to waste.
(6) Graphic Design. You can hire more than one company to do a single project. That way you can have choices for which artwork to use, and if one company doesn’t finish on time — fire them!
(7) Programming consultants are good to hire to check up on the quality of code of the programmers you hired in India. You need to know if they are writing clean and efficient code. You’ll never know if you don’t hire an expert although you will get hints when everything they build is broken or breaks easily after the fact.
(8) Social media services are good to hire for mundane work. But for strategical work, it is hard to find a good company. Sometimes you have to be a social media expert yourself. But, for posting, either use an auto-posting system or hire a company who will post your stuff at a reasonable rate. You should do the work yourself to see how long it takes so you can see if they are billing you for four hours for every one hour that you would have used.

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