What do you wish you had asked, before you signed on the dotted line with a company you’ve outsourced a function to? Or perhaps you are contemplating outsourcing one of your functions at the moment and want to be certain you have made the right choice.
How will I be looked after?
Before signing a contract to outsource one of your business functions, it’s essential that you find out exactly how the service delivery and account management is structured, who your primary points of contact would be, who is actually doing the work (do the outsourced company outsource?) and who your escalation points are if necessary. Having good communication channels to the right people is crucial to a successful delivery of service.
Some companies will sign up customers and then offshore the service delivery to reduce overheads, leaving customers having their service processed by teams with whom they will have little or no direct contact. Try to seek assurances that this won’t happen.
What if my business changes?
You may have reduced your workforce or you might be finding it tough in the current climate which can have an impact on the service you want to outsource. The service in its current state may differ from what you want to outsource in the coming months or what you outsourced at the start of your contract. The crucial question is whether the contract is flexible enough to accommodate your current and future needs. If you have to change the services, find out if you’ll be charged for it, especially if the functionality you need sits beyond their standard packages.
What is ‘accuracy’ to me, and how does it compare with the agency’s view?
Outsourcing relationships can tarnish rapidly if the time theoretically saved by outsourcing is then wasted on checking and amending the company’s work. It’s essential that the company adheres to the same, or even higher, standards of accuracy as your own. For example, is the outsourcer aiming to just get the work done, or are there further levels of accuracy that they should aspire to, and that you need?
How urgent is urgent?
One of the most frequent complaints of outsourcing is the lack of urgency in responding to queries. This is often a reflection of how the company operates and their level of customer service. A good company will find out what urgent means to its customers and how quickly they should be responding and rectifying errors.
How is the company structured?
Ideally, over time you will build up a close working relationship with the outsourced company. Due to this close relationship, frank discussions regarding performance or further necessary services need to be directed to the company as and when issues arise especially those responsible for the business side of the relationship like your account manager. This account manager should be concerned with more than upselling, and instead make sure that the outsourcing relationship works for both parties.
What experience does the outsourcing company have with similar organisations?
References are a key part of choosing any supplier, whether outsourced or not and whatever the business process. Multiple offices, varying points of contact within the business and high proportions of remote workers can create a particularly complex arrangement – one which requires experience to manage. Seeking out companies who can manage the complexities of your organisation will help determine their suitability.
The information in this how-to guide has been provided by Bond Payroll Services, an NCVO Trusted Supplier.
Read the case study from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp) about how and why they outsourced their payroll service.