Virtual employee outsourcing – when does it benefit SMEs?
Outsourcing or virtual assistance can help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow their business. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know when the benefits of virtual employee outsourcing outweigh the additional cost. Here are some tips to help you decide when to start using virtual employee outsourcing services.
The current circumstances of your business should be the primary consideration when thinking about outsourcing to a virtual assistant. It may be a good time to use virtual employee outsourcing services if:
- Your business is rapidly expanding and you desperately need more staff with specific skills that you cannot find locally
- Your business requires more flexible labor arrangements and the ability to quickly add or remove staff
- The business has a number of tasks that are only performed sporadically – tasks which don’t warrant the hiring of a new in-house staff member
- Some simple tasks that you normally perform in-house are taking longer and monopolising the time of skilled staff members — a virtual employee could be used to take care of these tasks and free-up in-house staff
- Your business needs to cut some costs and improve the efficiency with which some tasks are performed
Management and motivation
Whether you outsource or not, motivation and project management are required to ensure work is properly completed to agreed timelines. If you have to closely monitor and encourage a virtual employee to perform their work, you are at risk of wasting a lot of time on project oversight.
Virtual employee outsourcing services only benefit an SME when those outsourcing services are self-managed and highly motivated to complete tasks efficiently. If your business cannot find a self-managed and motivated provider, you may be better off using in-house employees instead.
Some tasks may require business knowledge which can only be gained over time. In many cases, a virtual assistant can only benefit the business after this knowledge has been successfully imparted. When outsourcing to a virtual assistant, make sure that the time required to learn this information is included in cost estimates.
You should also consider how outsourcing affects business continuity. Would using virtual employee outsourcing services to perform a specific task have any negative impact on your relationships with customers or other businesses?
For example, if you have a help desk service that your customers love, could you potentially damage your business by transitioning to virtual employees and dramatically changing its operation? The old adage of “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it” comes into play here.
Additionally, if you have a highly complex and unique project, does outsourcing to a virtual assistant really help you complete the project faster? You might have to spend days or weeks getting virtual assistants up to speed. It might be a better option to use an in-house employee for those complex, one-off projects.
Avoiding Training Expenses
If you business requires a staff member who has a particular set of skills, you are left with three options — train a staff member in that skill, hire a new in-house staff member with that skill or hire a virtual assistant who already has those skills. In most cases, hiring a skilled virtual assistant is the most cost-effective option of the three and a very efficient option for your business.
Outsourcing Lets Your Business Focus on Core Business Processes
One of the key benefits of virtual outsourcing is that it allows your business to focus on its core business processes and eliminate distractions. For example, if you find that employees are being distracted from their core responsibilities by other menial activities, consider handing off those activities. Your business can focus on what it does best — without distractions.
Your Business Can Wash Its Hands of Undesirable Tasks
If your business has experienced issues with budget over runs or delays performing particular tasks, better outcomes may be achieved by outsourcing that task. Your business can make use of virtual employee outsourcing services that specialise in performing particular tasks that your business struggles with. Not only can you save on costs, but in many cases, the task can be performed more professionally.