Any business that is committed to long-term success will have considered its growth plans and structure, and with those considerations inevitably comes the question of how much work should be handled by its employees versus outsourced to a third party. A third option – business process automation – may also be on the table, with a certain level of upfront investment. All of these methods can bring the benefit of streamlining operations, reducing costs, improving productivity, and dealing with unpredictable volume or repetitive tasks – provided the appropriate decisions are made. So when does a given process management technique work best?
When outsourcing makes sense
You don’t have to be a business owner to grasp the essence of why companies outsource specific processes. Within a family, for example, it’s common for parents to delegate chores to their kids; within an organization, supervisors assign different tasks to each employee. On some level, it always helps to reduce your workload. (Granted, parents and even bosses can also have an individual’s growth in mind when delegating responsibility.) Businesses follow the logic of streamlining their operations to focus on what they do best.
From this perspective, outsourcing works for any process which doesn’t help a business add value. However, outsourcing is particularly useful when it comes to work requiring specialized training, or when compliance is an issue. Truck driver recruiting for companies that run a private fleet or professional accounting services for international operations are examples of outsourcing processes that allow businesses to save significantly on the cost of expert services.
In-house makes a difference
Although you won’t find many business owners who’d turn down the chance to reduce costs in any area of their operations, there are still a lot of jobs which companies like to keep in-house – even to the point of hiring new staff and investing in their training and immersion into the company culture. Insourcing can be expensive and time-consuming, but for specific processes, the returns may be well worth the costs. When the human or ‘culture’ element is critical; for instance, companies would be wise to have in-house employees perform such functions as employee retention and termination management. Value-generating functions that give the business its competitive edge are also best handled in-house. Full-time, internal employees can bring their understanding of the big picture and make important decisions in these matters guided by the company’s vision.
The case for automation
A lot of people are increasingly worried about robots taking over their jobs. While complexity and the need for human intuition will ensure that many jobs will always require human involvement, the latest advances in technology are giving businesses the option to automate several processes. This doesn’t necessarily involve robotics – although manufacturers implementing more automation can benefit from efficiency improvements and lowered injury risk. When a considerable volume of data must be measured and processed without error, automation offers a clear advantage; order tracking, for instance, can require information from multiple points across the supply chain. Along with the opportunity for integration into an existing customer relationship management platform and billing system, automation allows businesses to handle these predictable and repetitive tasks efficiently.
Working out the best way to utilize the various options for outsourcing, insourcing, and automation through the application will help any business stay profitable in the long run and continue to press its core advantages while managing costs.