Outsourcing Small Business ProcessesJan 5th, 2009 | By Jose DeJesus MD | Category: Business Planning
One of my mentors says you should stick with your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. This means that you and your staff should focus your efforts on your core competencies and if an activity can be performed more efficiently by an outside service without diminishing the quality of the service you provide to your clients, then it’s a candidate for outsourcing. Here are some examples of work that may be worth outsourcing:
If writing isn’t the main service you provide, you can outsource writing of promotional material and other work that you or your staff would otherwise produce in house. Freelance writing has become a cottage industry, and there are writers who, supplied with source material and/or guidance, can outperform you or your staff, saving you time and money, leaving you to do the final touches rather than facing a blank page.
Back Office Financial Processes
Billing, collection, bookkeeping, and similar back-office processes are time consuming and, for a small business, create problems with separation of duties if you have one person who does multiple processes that should be split between two staff members.
- For example, billing for physician services, especially when insurance claim processing is involved, can probably be done better by a billing service that focuses on your specialty.
- Companies that receive a lot of payments by mail will often have the payments sent to a lockbox service run by their bank – the bank receives the mail, deposits the checks, and produces daily reports and/or copies of the checks. This kind of remote check receiving and deposit service is now within the reach of any small business. Separating this duty from your billing and bookkeeping processes is an important safeguard against theft or embezzlement.
- Bookkeeping is another example of a process you may consider outsourcing, partly as a separation of duties precaution and partly because you probably don’t have enough bookkeeping work to keep a full-time bookkeeper busy. Spend some quality time with your accountant, examine your back-office financial processes, and see what should be automated in-house and what processes should be outsourced to a bookkeeper or to your accountant’s staff.
Shipping and Fulfillment
If your business or practice includes making repetitive shipments or mass mailings, there are companies who specialize in this, and which can do a better job at lower cost than you can do in-house.
- USPS.com has a service where you can upload a mass mailing as a mail-merge document, and they will print it, stuff it into envelopes, and mail it at the lowest available rate, at a competitive price. You may be able to find a local lettershop service that will do the job, but at least use the prices at USPS.com for comparison.
- If you have physical items that you ship to clients on demand, there are “pick and pack” warehouses that that will warehouse your products and will put together shipments and send them out for you.
I hope that these examples help stimulate your thinking and help you identify those business processes that belong in-house and those that would best be outsourced to a companies that can perform them for you.