Expansion & Improvement
Running your business requires sourcing, nurturing and maintaining the right mix of skills, resources and capabilities to deliver services and achieve your growth goals. However, building the right team is also a moving target, as staff move on, market conditions change or new challenges arise that require different approaches. Outsourcing for extra support, specialised experience or flexible capacity can help businesses work more flexibly and improve their ability to adapt.
Jane Wills explains the advantages of outsourcing as a way to mitigate the impact of skills gaps, how to choose the best partner and why the right systems are essential for reducing risk and maximising control.
The advantages of a flexible workforce
Building a team is one of the key challenges for any business owner. While companies often start off with everyone doing a bit of everything, as you grow your business requires more capacity, new specialties and different structures to ensure the right people are doing the right jobs.
The problem is that a company’s needs can often change more quickly than the team can adapt, leaving gaps that can slow growth, raise costs or result in missed opportunities.
In a period of rapid growth, a business may expand faster than it can hire. A business may build a team around a certain growth plan or product mix, only to find that when the plan needs restructuring, or customer needs change, the team no longer fits the bill – even as you’re stuck with the fixed costs of employing them. When a key person leaves, their wealth of accumulated knowledge leaves with them, often at a crucial pivot point in your business.
Outsourcing gives business owners the option of drawing on additional support that can be adapted to the needs of the moment.
- Flexibility: Outsourcing provides a greater level of expertise than you might be able to afford or commit to permanently, either in terms of cost or resources.
- Expanded skill base: It allows you to access skills beyond your immediate team, making it easier for your business to adapt to growth or emerging issues.
- External perspective: Third-parties can offer a fresh pair of eyes on your business, a neutral view that can be useful in spotting opportunities or challenges you may not see.
- Agile resource provision: It provides an additional resource when you're short-staffed or during peak periods, helping to maintain productivity and efficiency in your operations without committing to long term hires.
Balancing permanent and flexible skills
The right mix of in-house and outsourced capacity will vary from business to business, as well as the unique context around the environment in which you operate.
In general, the decision of what to outsource becomes more complex with the importance of the task at hand.
- For basic tasks that are process-oriented, the decision to outsource can be a simple matter of resource availability and priority – by providing an external partner with clear instructions, standards for delivery and a process for collaboration, routine tasks such as document management or data entry can be easily passed on.
- For specialised roles like payroll processing, these can benefit from the experience and specialist systems offered by outsourced providers, where a measure of distance from the rest of the organisation can ensure security and impartiality in how these are executed, providing a layer of risk control.
- For transformational projects – where a strategic decision is made to add new skills or to refocus the business on core processes – outsourcing becomes a collaborative decision. Here the business and partner should be working in tandem to plan and design a working partnership that enables the broader business goals of the transformation.
Choosing the right partner
When entering into a working relationship with an external provider, much comes down to choosing the right partner. As a business owner, you need assurance that the outsourced provider understands your business and its unique challenges. The outsourcer also needs to align with your business needs and complement the skills you already have.
- Trust and mutual respect: This forms the foundation of any outsourcing relationship. You need to have confidence in your outsourcing partner's abilities and business ethics.
- Communication: Effective communication is key. Your partner should be able to keep you in the loop effectively, be it progress updates, problem reports, or responding to your queries.
Reputation and Track Record: Look at their track record and client testimonials. A partner with a good reputation and positive feedback from other clients is often a reliable choice.
- Clarity: Ensure the contract terms are clear and transparent. There should be no hidden fees or charges, and the terms for termination, renewals, and service level agreements (SLAs) should be explicit.
- Financial stability: A financially stable partner is a reliable one. Do your due diligence on their financial health to ensure that they will be able to provide consistent services in the long run.
Security and Confidentiality: Particularly important for sensitive tasks. The partner should have robust security measures in place to protect your data and maintain confidentiality
Haines Watts' outsourcing strategy
At Haines Watts, we understand the outsourcing process and its challenges, working both as an outsourced financial partner to leading businesses and also working to design outsourcing processes for non-financial functions.
We aim to understand your goals and aspirations, aligning our services with your vision and what you're trying to accomplish. Our experts can offer an external perspective to complement your existing skill base, providing our own resources or helping you design processes to work alongside your own network. Every client relationship starts with understanding your unique point of view – we can identify opportunities, ascertain what we can provide in-house, and bring in partners to provide a holistic service to help you bridge any skills gaps and build long term agility.
To find out more about how strategic outsourcing can support your business, get in touch with our team today.