Category Archives: Outsourcing

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When is the Best Time to Outsource

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Outsourcing has been a tried and tested strategy. It has helped many businesses navigate times of economic turbulence and maintain profitability. In fact businesses even report an increase in productivity. A 2014 study by Stanford University showed that outsourcing increased productivity by 13.5% on average. But when is the best time to outsource?

Introduce Efficiency

In times of business uncertainty, businesses tend to re-align their resources. This means they are transitioning to more efficient business modeling by streamlining costs.

For businesses that are outsourcing for the first time, they will initially outsource non-essential tasks to reduce the risk while developing their learning curve about the strategy.

They will recognize immediately the improvement in operating expenses as the biggest comparative cost advantage in outsourcing lies with labor. Businesses should be able to streamline costs by 40%.

Improve Productivity

By outsourcing non-essential tasks, businesses will be able to improve productivity. They can shift their focus on functions that translate to income for the company. This is a key benefit when business prospects continue to remain sluggish.

The cost savings generated from outsourcing can also be used to fund new projects and departments. If you are planning to maintain market visibility, you can use the cost savings for marketing and promotional activities.

Scale Business

Outsourcing also allows you to scale business even though prospects may seem dim and the investment climate appears risky. In the first place, you have already generated cost benefits which will provide a buffer versus financial risks.

Second, by outsourcing your non-essential and technical tasks, you can shift your focus to new growth industries and diversify your business to less risky propositions.

Remember, opportunities abound during times of chaos and turbulence. No one wants to explore markets because of greater risk. But that is when you have the best choices at the most affordable prices.

Build New Markets

You should also consider outsourcing if you plan to build new markets for your business. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Outsource Telemarketing Services – By delegating telemarketing services to virtual assistants or other third party service providers, you can reach out to new potential regions of customers. Many of these service providers are paid on a performance- based arrangement which means they have to hit certain quotas.
  • Outsource Digital Marketing Services – The key for your sales people to be effective is to have access to high quality leads. This responsibility falls on the shoulders of the digital marketer who will use his or her experience to design an effective online marketing campaign for your business.

Outsourcing is an effective way to build your business whether in time of prosperity or unpredictability. But its benefits shine brightest when the business environment becomes volatile.

Proof of this is the 132% growth of the global outsourcing market since the new millennium which had been punctuated with history changing events. There is an inverse relationship between the growth of the outsourcing market and the world economy.

The new millennium ushered in the age of the new economy; one that is very much ambiguous. Thus, the best time to outsource is now.

 

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How to Motivate and Inspire Your Virtual Assistant

 

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If you want to get more productive work from your Virtual Assistant, the best approach would be to find ways to motivate and inspire them. Money is not always the motivation why people work; for most it is just the opportunity to contribute to success. Here are 5 ways to motivate and inspire your Virtual Assistant:

Encourage Goal Setting

Goal setting has been proven to be a powerful tool for extracting top notch performance whether in school, sports or work. A goal sets a target for you to shoot for; it establishes direction and represents your purpose.

Establish goals together with your Virtual Assistant but make sure these are achievable:

  • There must be historical basis or precedence for the goals;
  • The goals must be realistic and attainable;
  • The goals must be measurable;
  • There must be a pre-determined time frame;
  • Keep the goals manageable

Assuming you can dedicate 90 minutes to accomplish a goal, it would not be realistic to target 3-4 goals within an 8 hour schedule. Identify 3 top goals and prioritize them.

Communicate Regularly

Communication is vital in business. It becomes more crucial if you are working with someone who does not shared space but instead operates behind another computer perhaps thousands of miles away.

The best way to circumvent the limitations of shared space collaboration is through frequent and effective communication:

  • Use dependable online channels;
  • Always conduct audio-video conference calls;
  • Have an agenda ready one day before and provide the Virtual Assistant a copy.

Communication gives you the venue to address existing problems and concerns. It is also a great way to build a strong, trustworthy relationship.

Show Appreciation for a Job Well Done

A Virtual Assistant is also a person who appreciates recognition. Many will attribute success to “just doing my job”. But a little appreciation goes a long way.

If your Virtual Assistant is able to submit a deadline on time without compromising quality of work and in fact, did above and beyond what you expected, let him or her know how you feel.

  • Invite your Virtual Assistant to an impromptu meeting then proceed to thank him or her personally for the great work rendered;
  • Send your Virtual Assistant a personal e-mail on how you appreciate his or her dedication to work;
  • Send a small token of appreciation. It doesn’t have to be money; perhaps a paid gift certificate or a few days off with pay.

Create a Feedback Loop

When you are meeting with your Virtual Assistant, do not monopolize the discussion. Give the Virtual Assistant the opportunity to share his or her views on work and problems currently existing in operation.

Some clients are too thin-skinned to accept comments from their Virtual Assistant but creating a feedback loop is an effective way to make your business better. Virtual Assistants perceive your business from a different filter. Their comments and suggestions should be taken constructively.

Remember Them on Special Days

Some virtual assistants do not mind working on Christmas or New Year’s Day. For them its work and they do have the luxury of working from home. Still, this highlights their commitment for your business to succeed. It’s not just the money; they also have other clients they are probably servicing as well.

On these special days’ even birthdays, send them special tokens of well-wishes. Even a virtual cake with candles and a song will be funny bit still appreciated. Of course, you should include a generous adjustment in their fees as a gesture of goodwill.

It is important to have a motivated and inspired Virtual Assistant working for you. This is especially true if you have found a Virtual Assistant who consistently turns in excellent work.

 

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5 Risk Free Tasks You Can Outsource to Remote Virtual Assistants

 

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The premiere destinations for outsourcing services to virtual assistants are the Philippines and India which are considered remote locations. But despite their consistency, many businesses remain hesitant to hire virtual assistants from remote locations.  They are concerned that logistical, cultural, social and language differences make it a risky proposition.

The best approach is to start off slow by offering non-essential tasks. Here are 5 risk-free tasks you can safely delegate to your Virtual Assistant:

1. Administrative Responsibilities

Every experienced Virtual Assistant has done time managing the administrative responsibilities of his or her client. Organizing your business is a basic skill requirement for virtual assistants. These include:

  • E-mail Filtering
  • Calendar Management
  • Appointment Setting
  • Phone Handling
  • Filing of Documents
  • Preparation of Presentation Materials

These are standard office responsibilities you can delegate to your remote Virtual Assistant without much risk.

2. Customer Support Services

The undisputed leader in outsourced customer support services is the Philippines and for 3 very good reasons:

  • High literacy rate – Philippines’ literacy rate at 98% is one of the highest in the world.
  • Excellent quality of English – English is considered the primary language for business and education in the Philippines. In fact, GlobalEnglish ranked the Philippines as number 1 in the world for business English in 2012.
  • Perfect cultural fit – The Philippines has been a colony of the Dutch, Spain, the United States and Japan. It has become a cultural melting pot of mores and values which is why Filipinos can easily adapt to any nationality.

Filipinos can adjust their accent to accommodate American, British or Australian English.

3. Social Media Management

Social Media is not a risky proposition because once the campaign has been designed, all the Virtual Assistant has to do is follow the schedule. Social Media Management tasks include:

  • Posting content on various social media networks
  • Increasing your network by qualifying connections
  • Limited engagement with respondents
  • Updating images and content
  • Content distribution

Social media management is a time consuming task. The schedule for posting will depend on the network. If you want to reduce the risk of mistakes, have spiels available for ready reference in case of engagement.

4. Graphics Design

Images are basically a universal language were interpretation becomes a matter of perspective. You can find virtual assistants who are also talented graphics designers from the Philippines and India.

You can merely discuss with them what you are looking for in a design and submit samples as references. The Virtual Assistant can deliver you 4 to 5 mock ups for your review.

Many of these remote virtual assistants are very accommodating. They will patiently work with you on the design until it conforms to your preference.

5. Content Marketing

One of the biggest misconceptions about hiring remote Virtual Assistants is the language barrier. Overseas clients feel the risk of misunderstanding is always present because there is a difference in relating to language. While this opinion is clearly debatable, there should be no argument when it comes to writing.

You can easily find virtual assistants from remote locations who are exceptional writers and highly talented in creating relevant, engaging and unique content. Not only do they write with skill but they implement the principles of SEO to make sure your content gets found on the Internet.

Remote virtual assistants are also very meticulous when it comes to work. They will review and edit the content until they are confident of the quality and relevance.

A few months into the working arrangement, you will realize that hiring virtual assistants has made your life easier and more convenient. Once you have gained the confidence, you can slowly delegate key tasks to them so you can focus on developing new business.

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The 5 Ws of Outsourcing

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Outsourcing services is a proven way to develop your business because it streamlines costs and improves your productivity level. But for those who have not outsourced before, it may seem like a daunting task filled with risk and uncertainty.

Here are the 5 “W”s usually asked about outsourcing:

1. Why Outsource?

The primary reason why companies outsource services is to reduce their cost of business. Outsourcing lowers business cost because it capitalizes on cost advantages available in other regions or options. The most significant cost advantage is labor.

By delegating services to third party service providers, businesses can realize an improvement of at least 40% on their monthly operating budgets. Outsourcing is also a great way to improve productivity. It allows the business to focus on its core competencies and the cost savings can be used to fund other projects or departments.

2. What to Outsource?

If you are outsourcing for the first time, start out with the non- essential tasks. These are administrative or support services that will not place your business at much risk should problems in performance arise. Once the outsourcing services provider has become more proficient with these tasks and you have gained more confidence, you can consider outsourcing more technical responsibilities.

3. When to Outsource?

Many companies outsource services before official launch of their business so they can gain traction without compromising their limited budgets. Others will outsource when they are in expansion stage.

You can reduce the risks associated with expansion because the costs of outsourcing are low and the agreement can be terminated without much complication. You can outsource different departments of your business  so your company can re-align its focus on potential new ventures.

4. Where to Outsource?

Outsourcing has become a huge global industry. The estimated value of the global outsourcing industry is US$250 Billion. Its market size alone grew by 132% over the last 15 years.

The predominant countries now for global outsourcing are the Philippines and India. The Philippines leads the outsourcing industry in telemarketing, back office support and customer service. India has always been the leader for IT outsourcing.

By outsourcing to these remote countries, you can further improve your margins because wage rates are lower. In the Philippines, you can secure the services of a reputable outsourcer for US$9 to US$12 per hour. The rate includes power, rent and Internet.

By comparison, the average wage rate in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia is US$16.50 to US$20 per hour.

5. Who to Outsource?

Before you initiate discussions with any third party outsourcing services provider you must make sure the companies are reputable and in good standing.

  • Contact local regulating agencies; ask for a list of members in good standing.
  • Conduct due diligence; a simple Google search may sometimes suffice.
  • Get referrals from friends and associates that have outsourced.
  • Use social media and other networking sites such as LinkedIn.

It pays to spend time and resources on these activities. There are many spurious companies that work to scam clients of their hard earned money.

Finally you have the “H” as in “How” to outsource. That will be the subject of another article but once you have identified “Who” you should already plan to reach out and establish contact, interview representatives and draw up the necessary contracts.

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3 Tips on How to Find the Right-Fit Virtual Assistant

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The Virtual Assistant has become an indispensible asset to every business organization regardless of size or scale. Whether you are a company that generates $10 Million a year or a startup looking to net $100,000 in the first full year of operation, a Virtual Assistant will help you surpass profitability targets.

But with so many people entering the virtual assistance profession, it becomes more challenging to look for the best candidates. The key is to shift your focus to a Virtual Assistant who is right-fit for your business.

“Right-Fit” means someone who understands and acknowledges the purpose of your business and willingly subscribes to your vision. Right – fit candidates may not be the best in terms of credentials and references but they are the most dedicated people you can find for your business.

Here are 3 tips on how to find the right-fit Virtual Assistant for your business:

1. Identify the Tasks You Want Outsourced

Before you even commence recruitment activities, you should be clear on what tasks you want to outsource to a Virtual Assistant.

Virtual assistants are no longer just secretaries or personal assistants. Since the new millennium, the virtual assistance industry has opened its doors to candidates with various skills.

It doesn’t matter what area you want filled out or which tasks you want outsourced. You will find a Virtual Assistant for the job.

Create a summary of the tasks you want outsourced and use this as reference for the “Scope of Work” the formal document you have to provide the Virtual Assistant.

The Scope of Work is usually attached to the Service Level Agreement (SLA) which is the standard contract between the Client and the Virtual Assistant.

2. Start With the Job Posting

Qualifying a right-fit Virtual Assistant can start with the job posting. One of the strong points of a Virtual Assistant is attention to detail. The best ones are meticulous when it comes to instructions because they do not want to make costly mistakes.

Some clients use the job post as a creative way to qualify which ones are meticulous enough to read through the entire text. You will often come across job posts that are very long; some are longer than 1,000 words and written in small sized font.

The purpose is to test the patience and determination of each candidate. Usually near the end of the job post is a crucial instruction which must be carried out or the application will be disqualified.

If you want to hire a right-fit Virtual Assistant, he or she must be willing to extend all efforts to get the job done right.  

3. Focus on the Behavioral

Clients make the mistake of emphasizing the technical and fundamental competencies of the candidate.

You can hire the candidate with the most glowing references and longest list of accomplishments. But if he or she is not right-fit, the relationship will not work and may end up disruptive.

Focus on the behavioral aspects: personality and attitude. Find out what values they believe in and how they approach work. Ask them about the most difficult experiences they had at work and life and how they managed to resolve them.

The principle of “Right-Fit” has become an important factor in hiring people. Tony Hsieh of Zappos does not use the resume as basis for hiring personnel. Instead he gauges if the candidate will be a fit to their culture.

Always keep in mind that people can be trained to become more proficient at work. However, there is no specific type of training that can change a person from who he or she already is.

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD OUTSOURCE PART OF YOUR WORK

5 reasons why you should outsource part of your work

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD OUTSOURCE PART OF YOUR WORK

Many real estate agents see the benefits of outsourcing daily tasks. By outsourcing, these companies can concentrate more on generating revenue, instead of wasting time on non-income earning tasks. Here are five reasons why real estate agents outsource part of their work.

More value for time

Real estate agents earn by selling as many properties as possible. So, time is precious. Much time is spent on doing the back-end tasks. By outsourcing, the agents can spend more time on selling and earn more money.

Saving money and resources

Outsourcing is a cost-effective solution for businesses. Outsourcing companies have trained and skilled employees to do the non-revenue generating work. This will save you human resources and time. Tasks like maintaining customer databases, preparing brochures and advertisements, etc. can be outsourced.

Having access to the specialists

A real estate outsourcing company has trained workers. They have years of experience with these tasks. Over the years they have adopted special skills in this field.

Growth

By outsourcing tasks, the real estate agents can get the valuable time to focus on their core activities. This will lead to company growth.

Delegating tasks

You can delegate some of the general functions to an outsourcing company. By delegating tasks, you will be able to work around your schedule easily.

Outsourcing certain tasks can be advantageous for the real estate agents. It will save time and utilize this free time in taking strategic decisions regarding their business.

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