Outsourcing can help any entity become more efficient and productive. You can hire an external individual or agency to perform a wide range of work, including accounting, marketing, or manufacturing. Data analysis, software development, and quality assurance outsourcing are among the many specialized contractor services available in the IT realm.
Essentially, you can hire out any type of work that’s bogging down your operation by keeping employees from performing core tasks or stopping you from meeting important deadlines or goals. But is outsourcing right for your agency? Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide.
Pro: Lowers Payroll Costs
When you hire external resources to perform certain tasks, there are, naturally, costs involved. But you’ll also avoid some costs such as health insurance and vacation and sick leave. Additionally, you don’t have to hire vendors full-time. Rather, you can have them work only when needed, such as when workloads become heavy at certain times of the year. This method saves taxpayers money without reducing the quality of work being produced by your agency.
Pro: Keeps Talent Pool Fresh
While there’s much to be said about having employees on board who are very familiar with your agency and the way it operates, there’s also an argument to be made for incorporating an outside perspective. Those coming in from an external agency may have fresh ideas about how to improve efficiency or connect better with the public. Younger workers just out of school may also bring the benefit of having learned new techniques and methods for the types of work you need.
You also get access to a larger talent pool, expanding your resources for specific projects, tasks, or consulting needs. Taking advantage of these resources can even mean working remotely with contractors in another state or other parts of the world.
Pro: Adds Flexibility
As mentioned above, you can bring on contractors when needed for certain projects and let them go when those projects end. This process enables a high level of flexibility, giving you the ability to ramp up or ramp down your output as needed. You may even get work done faster with outsourced workers, given that they’re looking to make an impression in order to build their business.
Con: Reduces Level of Control
Within your agency, there are certain rules employees are subject to. Contractors operate by a different set of rules. While you can set work schedules, locations, and methods for your internal workers, you may not be able to do the same with those you hire on an outsourced basis. In fact, to maintain the separation of the employee types, such direction is often not allowed.
There are many ways to mitigate this challenge, however. Communicate clearly about your goals and expectations to lay the foundation for your work together. Set milestones and deadlines that don’t require specific work schedules or locations. Use in-person meetings, phone calls, email, project management and chat applications, and other communication methods to stay in touch about progress and respond to questions.
Con: Requires Up-Front Effort
Before you begin working with an outsourced team, you may need to go through the process of finding the right vendor to work with. To do so successfully, create a description of the work you’ll need done as well as the job requirements. Consider the timeframe that you’ll need the contractors for as well as your budget for this process. Then you’ll know what you’re looking for as you research individuals or agencies to hire.
Additional up-front work may be needed to train outsourced team members on your projects and methods. While this effort may take time away from your core tasks, it will be an investment that will pay off as these workers become more integrated with your team.
Con: Lack of Continuity
Just as you can start and stop outsourced services as you need them, vendors and contractors can choose to stop working with you at any time. So, all the work you may have put into training them could be lost unexpectedly.
Unfortunately, not much can be done to prevent this potential problem. However, creating a welcoming environment, setting reasonable expectations and goals, and keeping the communication lines open can all help to ensure that outsourced workers will want to continue working within your agency.
As many private companies have discovered, outsourcing can be a great method for getting work done flexibly and affordably while maintaining a high-quality standard. There are some drawbacks to this approach but hiring contractors for certain tasks has many benefits including flexibility, cost-efficiency, and access to a wide pool of talent. While your federal agency may need to follow government-specific rules when it comes to hiring outside help, you can still reap some of those same benefits.