Are you thinking about outsourcing, but don't know which tasks to assign to your outsourced staff? The best way to determine these tasks is through a categorization of work that's based on the monumental research of Autor, Levy and Murname (2003) into the changing task composition of the labor market in the United States. Work can be organized into four categories as shown in the following four-window matrix:
Routine manual occupations don't require much skills. Much of the work involves repetitive tasks that follow a set of rules. These tasks are easily programmed into machines, which do not get exhausted, thirsty, hungry or sick.
Routine cognitive work is similar to these jobs, except they require some training. Despite the cognitive nature of these jobs, they're gradually being usurped by machines. Voice-recognition software and automated processes have made it possible for companies to only hire a small squad of workers to answer phones and emails, depending on the urgency and gravity of the customer's inquiry or request. The rest can be handled by bots.
Compare these routine jobs to the non-routine analytical, interpersonal, creative and manual work that employees today are doing. We have more people working in healthcare as nurses, caregivers, and doctors. Nearly half of the workforce in the United States are in tech jobs. And, those who do non-routine manual work, such as rescue and protection workers, dog trainers, electricians and plumbers, will remain in demand.
Economists call this phenomenon as job polarization, which they have observed as early as the Sixties when machines started replacing human workers in manufacturing and agriculture. More than 50 years have passed and the labor market continues to be affected by technological developments. Pundits saw that non-routine jobs continue to rise in number and demand all through the recession in the Nineties.
So, if you're thinking of outsourcing, consider assigning these six kinds of non-routine work to highly educated and experienced professionals employed by offshore companies. Basically, what you're considering is staff leasing, which allows you to manage your offshore staff directly from your domestic office.
(1) Graphic design work that you may needed done either in bulk or in small batches and with a fast turnover. Logo design work as well as asset creation and dexterous editing jobs are good examples. Increasing demand in video and social media content makes graphic design outsourcing a less costly option for cash-strapped businesses.
(2) Tasks related to web research and analytics can be also outsourced to professionals. Some companies choose to hire freelancers and independent consultants. Others choose to get the help of a forward-thinking outsourcing company with the technology and proven expertise in their niche. Either way, human expertise is vital to the job. Machines may be capable of mining gigabytes of data from various sources in less than a minute, but they're not capable of analyzing data and extracting meaning from it all.
(3) Medical and dental insurance verification and claims processing is a subset of customer support, but this line of work can't be delegated to machines that do not understand the human psyche. Workers are trained to spot discrepancies in the information given by patients. It's not just about the numbers. It's the ability to intuitively match the records to actual information received from different sources either verbally or written.
(4) Writing jobs will never go out of style. Just like designers, professional writers of legal, medical, academic papers as well as creative works will remain in demand for a very long time. Machines may be capable of mimicking their creations, but innovation rises from serendipity and a great necessity. It does not follow a pattern and it cannot be interpreted mathematically.
(5) Level 1 and Level 2 tech support can't be set aside for machines to provide. Many people are not that easy to placate when they're frustrated with technology. After all, the ones who play an important role in keeping your business afloat are your customers. And, they need a human being on the other end of a phone call.
(6) Language tutoring is another type of work that a machine can't be trusted to do right. Some people are known as autodidacts, self-directed learners who often don't need formal schooling to acquire new knowledge and skills. But, learning a new language is not wholly dependent on recorded tutorials. To carry a conversation in a second language, one has to engage in everyday conversations with someone who has a better grasp of that language than the learner.
Essentially, non-routine cognitive work requires abstract reasoning, systems thinking, collaboration, and the ability to experiment.
Abstract reasoning involves manipulation of the five components of an information system, namely hardware, software, database, network and people.
Systems thinking is the ability to combine these five components for input, process, output, feedback and control, and to finally make sense of it all.
Finally, collaboration is the ability to work with others to achieve a goal or implement a plan. And, the ability to experiment means that person is unafraid to test the waters and to "make a reasoned analysis of an opportunity, envisioning potential solutions, evaluating those possibilties, and developing the most promising solutions and possibilities."
These six examples of non-routine work that can be outsourced are not inclusive. There are many more tasks you can outsource to your offshore staff or even to a staff leasing company in your state. The trick is to figure which ones are not part of your core competencies. Non-core work do not bring as much value to your business as the work that you and your stateside employees do.