Outsourcing is not as straightforward as it may sometimes seem. From one perspective, the decision to outsource certain parts of your business such as training and recruitment has a simple motive: cut costs and save time. However, from another perspective, outsourcing may mean that you lose control of integral aspects of your work. Consequently, outsourcing needs careful consideration.
Focus on What You Do Best
Advocates of outsourcing make a very strong case when they say that you should ask external specialists to handle issues such as training and recruitment. You then have an opportunity to focus on what you and your business do best. Very often, this means that you can spend more time anticipating a market’s needs and developing innovative ideas to meet these needs. The issue to bear in mind, though, is the extent to which your outsourced functions could affect your plans for business development.
This last point takes you straight to the issue of control. You may feel relief, for example, when you outsource your training to a specialist. In this instance, you no longer have to organize internal training, which can take experienced workers away from their normal duties. But will external training really address the subtleties of the way you actually run your business? Your business is unique, which is part of its competitive advantage; so do you really want generic training packages supplied externally? A similar argument applies to recruitment. Once you lose control of hiring, you can obviously tell the recruitment agency about the sort of person you want; but when you don’t have the chance to examine someone’s experience and skills for yourself, can you be confident that you will be employing someone who understands your particular environment?
Such recruitment issues may not be a problem if you want an employee for a standard type of role. The difficulty, however, is that many small- and medium-sized businesses rely for their competitive edge on the quality of their human capital. Thus, the people that you employ can be your most important assets. This point is increasingly valid in the knowledge-based economies of developed countries where expertise and understanding are the raw material of many enterprises. Outsourcing recruitment and training can save you money and time, but it can inhibit you from finding the people you really need and arranging the type of specialist coaching that your business must offer if you are to stay ahead of the competition.
Ultimately, you have to place outsourcing in the context of your business and strategic goals. The question to ask, perhaps, is what benefits do I gain from outsourcing and what do I lose? The latter point is just as important as saving money and time in a business environment where loss of control, capabilities, and knowledge can damage your chances of success.