To Outsource or Not? Drawbacks You Should Know Before Outsourcing Tasks

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If things are starting to get tough in your business, outsourcing tasks is a great solution.

Outsourcing is the practice of farming out tasks and services to a third party. And it is commonplace in many businesses. This third party may be local or offshore.

This practice has many benefits, which is why even corporate businesses do it. It’s well-known to be a great way to cut costs. In many cases, outsourcing tasks can be much more affordable than hiring in-house.

And there’s a huge talent pool in outsourcing. You can either hire a third-party human resource company to find you the best individuals from offshore to fulfill your tasks. There are also many platforms, such as UpWork and Fiverr, to find and directly hire freelancers. This is a good option if you’re looking for something short term.

Many businesses are outsourcing tasks. But just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean you should too. Like many things, outsourcing has its cons that need to be considered. Understanding them will help you see whether outsourcing is the best option for you and your business.

Slow Turnaround Time

Outsourcing companies and freelancers, more often than not, handle many clients at once. This means that the turnaround time for their deliverables may be slower than having tasks in-house.

Technically, this won’t be a problem if you and the outsourcing company you hired reached a clear agreement regarding deadlines. You need to be clear with their deliverables and when exactly they should be submitted to prevent problems. But if you need to have something rushed, don’t expect to be accommodated all the time, if at all.

This issue can be easy to remedy, though. When you set deadlines, make them a little earlier than they’re supposed to so that you have enough time to make adjustments if needed.

Time Zone Problem

If you are hiring offshore outsourcing companies, expect issues related to time zone differences. For example, discussions via email may take a while to be settled due to the slow back and forth between you and the third-party vendor.

Most outsourcing companies will adjust their work shift to match yours. This way, you can communicate regarding deliverables in real-time. But if the outsourcing company you hired is on the other side of the world, your day shift will be night shift to them. And working in the night shift is associated with problems with productivity and vigor. It’s also linked with sleep deprivation, which leads to avoidable work errors.

There are many ways to ensure alertness and productivity when working on a night shift, such as snacking. Nonetheless, working at night messes with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. As the shift goes on, offshore workers’ sleepiness and fatigue will increase. And that may affect the quality of their work and ability to communicate.

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Cultural Differences

You also need to consider issues caused by cultural differences if you’re outsourcing offshore. Outsourcing company employees do their best to learn everything about their clients’ culture to deliver the best outputs.

For example, writers from third-world countries may know only a fraction of how real property works in the country where their client is from. Thus, they do thorough research to deliver their best work. But sometimes, certain things may get lost in translation. Inaccuracy can also be an issue.

Cultural differences can also affect communication. For instance, let’s say you decided to outsource human resource tasks to a company in Asia. Asians are collectivist in nature, while Westerners tend to be more individualistic. This polar opposite difference in nature may result in conflict and other communication issues. Thus, you have to expect that the outsourcing company you hire will have a certain learning curve.

Control and Ownership

Outsourcing tasks means you lose control and ownership over them and the people that handle them. If you get a contractor, the employees that accomplish your outsourced tasks are hired under that contractor. So if you find issues with the deliverables you received, the process of correcting the errors may take more time. You’ll have to route everything to your contractor first.

Understanding the two sides of outsourcing will help you decide whether it’s really for you and your business. For example, you can ask yourself if the reduced labor cost is worth it, given the issues that may occur regarding communication and output delivery. If it is, then feel free to jump the gun and outsource tasks, whether to a local outsourcing company or offshore.

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