You may have already decided to outsource, but you don't know which direction to take. Do you partner with an outsourcing company? Should you just hire freelancers from websites like Upwork (formerly known as oDesk)? Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and knowing what they are is the first step towards making an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Hiring Freelancers
It's rare to see an outsourcing firm giving you advice on hiring freelancers. But, here we are.
It's only common sense for us to guide businesses that don't really need external help with simple tasks, such as cropping pictures or gathering emails. These are jobs that are best done by freelancers looking to work part-time for a client or for fixed-rate projects with beginning and end dates.
It's also recommended for solopreneurs or home-based businesses to take advantage of the flexibility and mobility of freelancers. They can work for these microenterprises at a low cost. They can have a flexible work schedule, and work anywhere in the world.
Hiring freelancers may seem like the best option for small and medium-sized businesses. But, it's not often the case. There are hidden costs to that decision and not all of them are monetary. You may end up paying more for a simple job. Sometimes, you'll have work delayed so many times, you're wondering whether it's worth following through with your foolhardy decision or not.
Most freelancers have multiple projects at the same time, so their availability may be suspect. It's highly doubtful you'll find freelancers who would do overtime work for you, even when you offer to pay more.
And, because they're working for other clients, keeping things confidential between you and your freelancer can be challenging. Sometimes, freelancers use software that one client has paid for to do some extra work for another client.
One good thing about freelancers, though, is that their clients are not obligated to keep them around when the project has ended and their skills are no longer needed.
Why Outsource to a Service Provider?
When you need to find skilled workers for more complicated non-routine jobs, then outsourcing or staff leasing is the way to go. Outsourcing to an offshore service provider may be unfamiliar terrain for you, and you'll surely need help in navigating through it if you wanted to succeed.
But, companies that provide services to businesses abroad are sure to have more streamlined operations with systems and technologies already in place. They also offer the following advantages that may not be possible when you hire freelancers.
(1) Outsourcing companies are experienced in recruiting the right staff for you.
The worst part of hiring freelancers is finding out that your chosen candidate has overstated his or her capabilities on paper. A way to make sure that someone has the right skills and knowledge to do the job well is to ask for references and samples of work. Even then, those "samples" may be plagiarized or appropriated by a freelancer.
When this happens, you'll end up losing precious time teaching and correcting the work of your freelancer. This delays your progress, and you miss milestones in your timeline. It will probably cost you more, but if you hired someone with expertise in the first place, you're assured of quality work delivered on time.
If you don't have time at all for sifting through resumes and handling interviews, then hire a staff leasing firm or outsource to a reputable service provider. They will take care of everything from recruitment to training and personnel management.
(2) Outsourcing firms help cut down the time and costs that will take you to train your staff.
Training is part of the recruitment process. You'll be introducing your new hires to your business and teaching them how work is done in your company. But, this shouldn't take too long. When you outsource to a service provider, expect your outsourcing partner to hire people with experience. And so, half of the work has been done for you. You save on training costs as well.
(3) Outsourcing companies have workflow systems in place that adhere to quality standards.
Copyright infringement and plagiarism are common issues among freelancers, especially with graphic designers and content writers. For SEO and online marketing, the use of "black hat" techniques and spam bots is a big problem. Outsourcing companies will never put their reputations at stake with these unethical practices.
You know you get work done in ways that meet international standards, and quality is checked repeatedly throughout the process. You have key performance indicators (KPIs) for the team and your production units. Because you have a management team handling these things on site, you're assured that any time an issue arises it will be resolved quickly.
(4) Outsourcing firms make sure your staff are working only for you and they're the only ones using the tools you have provided.
When you have a service provider supporting you, you're assured that your staff will only work for you. No side jobs or after-hours work. With your help, the staff can be trained to use the tools of the trade. And, you don't have to worry about other employees using the same tools and having access to your data.
When you're using a virtual machine to share documents and collaborate in real-time, access to that is limited to your outsourced staff. If you're keeping a database of your customers' personal information, including social security and insurance data, you're assured that the people who work for you have been vetted and trained to follow the rules. All these is possible when you have an outsourcing firm managing your staff.