Benefits of Outsourcing
Outsourcing is the transference to third parties of the performance or administration of tasks once accomplished in-house. As a business strategy, it has become widely accepted as a viable way to maintain or improve a company's productivity at reduced cost. Usually it is leveraged in order for businesses to invest their energies primarily in their core activities by outsourcing the rest.
In other words, businesses typically outsource non-revenue-producing support services that are not a core competency of the company. Although essential, these services do not fit within the mission statement of the company and are not central to generating its profits. Tasks are also typically outsourced if they can be done faster, better, or cheaper by outside suppliers and vendors, if management does not have time to execute them properly, if they are only temporary needs or recur in cycles, or they are too specialized to have in-house employees do them.
Take printing as an example. Businesses outsource printing and print management to printers because it is not their core business. So when you think about it, all printers owe their existence to outsourcing.
Because outsourcing is often an effective way for companies to obtain better control and use of their assets in the face of shrinking staffs and operating budgets, it only makes sense for printers to consider outsourcing activities that are not central to generating profits. But PrintLink's Managing Director Myrna Penny suggests that, as part of their business evolution, printers should also consider outsourcing more services that do relate to revenue.
Services to Outsource
According to Myrna, examples of outsourcing that can produce a direct beneficial effect on a printing company's bottom line include:
- Workflow consultants to streamline a company's productivity
- Accountants to assist with financial streamlining, including forging cost-effective relationships that benefit both printers and their suppliers. Their functions may include expense and payroll processing, accounts payable, financial statements, and collections.
- Training, whether for management, sales, or technical staff.
- Human resources services to help maintain and retain the staff already hired. Their contributions may include creating and managing job descriptions, performance appraisals and salary reviews, dispute mediation, HR policies and procedures, employee handbooks, orientation of new hires, workers' compensation, benefits administration, and counseling.
- Health and safety consultants to ensure regulatory compliance and the benefit to employees of a safe workplace
- Staffing services to maximize the effectiveness of hiring practices and recruit the best possible employees to the company
"One advantage to outsourcing is that outside advisors are often able to get better buy-in from your company's personnel. They can help convert your staff to a paradigm shift that is required to run the business more successfully. Since their ideas originate from outside the business, they are often accepted more readily than changes that arise internally," says Myrna.
"Another benefit of outside services is that they can help sell your business to outside stakeholders," says Myrna. "Usually printing managers have their hands full with completing jobs and meeting deadlines, so it can be enormously helpful for them to have support from outside advisers with advocacy on behalf of their company." For example, in helping to recruit new staff for your business, Myrna says the best placement specialists will take the time required to understand your company and its culture, so they can help sell your company to top-calibre candidates as a good place to work.
Especially when a company weathers transitions like restructuring, downsizing or financial troubles, negative assumptions are often made that can hurt the business because it is perceived as a risk. But because outside advisors are acquainted with the company, they are in an excellent position to reassure other outsiders that the business is operating effectively and is worthy of consideration. A classic example of such advocacy is provided by accounting firms or bankruptcy consultants, who can assist a company's negotiations with creditors or lenders when banks or other conventional sources of funding are inclined to look askance at the company's past financial performance. Accountants can provide details of the company's restructuring strategy and instill confidence in lenders and suppliers that they are implementing a viable plan for getting the business back on track. Workflow consultants can also assist in this regard. Other potential champions of a printing company's cause in good times or bad include placement consultants who are able to substantiate the fact a company is not an employment risk.
For outside advisors to fulfill their role as potential advocates of your business, however, they need first of all to be willing and able to invest the time and acumen required to understand your company and its needs. In addition to meeting this prerequisite, it is also important to look for vendors who are really committed to serving your business as well as the functions you are interested in outsourcing.