COVID-19 has caused almost every business in the world to reflect on their operating model and consider different approaches. One area that is among the first to be checked is outsourcing. Whether you are using 3rd party contractors in-country or offshore, there are some areas that should be checked. The good news is, with proper structure and guidelines, outsourcing can help your business to recover from COVID-19 and can help sustain your business into the future.
There may be a business where all workers are centralized in one building. That business can be at risk if the area is put under quarantine. In another case, a business can get rapidly overwhelmed and there are limited skills in a particular area. Leveraging an outsourcing provider can help that business to get the work done.
Here are some tips to take full advantage of outsourcing to benefit your business:
- Clearly outline the tasks and skillsets needed – if you do not have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place with your outsourcing provider, consider putting together a document to confirm the specific requirements for the outsourced team. The SLA should include work to be performed, timing, schedules, and quality reviews. Creating a “job description” of sorts is a great start.
- Have a governance model designed for remote operations – in uncertain times, it is important to have multiple options for oversight and management of remote workers. This should include contact information for the key decision makers. Specify at least two leaders for each area to oversee. With this, if one leader is not available, the other can help to fill in when needed.
- Temporarily augment internal workloads – as business returns, there can be a huge wave of work that has built up over months of inactivity. Have an outsourcing team ready and prepared to take on this workload along with your employees. With this, you can handle the surge and then level out when necessary.
- Distributed work is now part of business continuity planning – to reduce risk to your business, having remote workers and outsourcing is now considered a solid business choice. In the event a particular geographical area is hit by a crisis like COVID-19, your business can continue operations if you have a distributed workforce.
- Set up specific KPI’s for remote work and outsourcing – Key Performance Metrics (KPI’s) should be a part of any business model but setting KPI’s for your outsourcing and remote operations is essential. Consider task completions, meeting attendance, status reports and other measurable items as part of your KPI checklist. Hold your outsourcing partner accountable for these KPI’s.
- Document and communicate to confirm understanding of roles and responsibilities – having phone conversations and video conferences are great and should be a part of your normal business operations. But having clear documentation will reinforce what is important and will help to clearly communicate your expectations for your outsourcing team. One approach is to have a planning session and then have your outsourcing team put together a document based around the call or video conference. You can then verify with the documentation that everyone is clear on the needs.
Some examples where outsourcing could fit very well into business operations include:
- Troubleshooting and support for software applications
- Data entry and data normalization or cleansing
- Quality assurance and review
- Comparison of work to government compliance or industry standards
- Processing of electronic orders
- Mass-communications to employees or customers such as email notifications
- Social media updates
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work and analysis
- Content marketing
- Converting paper documents into electronic documents
- Software development and bug fixing
- And more
COVID-19 has changed the way we think about business. Companies across the world are taking a fresh new look at outsourcing and remote work. Outsourcing providers know this, and are ready to step in and help wherever they can.
As we all examine our business operations, consider outsourcing as a solid choice to moving forward and being ready for any future challenges.