Businesses increasingly trust specialists to map their way forward, two top outsourcing experts say.
Post-recession, ultra-lean firms are prepared to outsource key aspects of their evolution that were previously assumed “too close to the heart of the business” to give away.
Melanie Simpson and Teddy George, co-directors of London-based business services firm George Jacobsen, say there has been a boom in outsourcing ‘business development’ services among SMEs. This involves strategies to grow the firm and increase turnover, building a comprehensive picture of the future.
By hiring troubleshooters, freelancers and consultants only when they’re required, super-streamlined firms pare costs down to a minimum.
Melanie explains: “Before the recession, companies would have been more inclined to think that business planning and strategy building was absolutely an internal activity, something for the in-house team. Perhaps the reaction in the past has been that ‘No-one knows our business like we do.’ Now the thinking is more ‘They specialise in this: why don’t we benefit from that knowledge and a fresh way of thinking?
“This kind of comprehensive outsourcing doesn’t compromise the company’s core products or services, it recognises that an excess head count is a drain on resources. You don’t always need to have tasks running, using full-time staff, for 365 days a year. Firms can no longer afford to be complacent about having surplus staff.”
Mel stresses that recovery from the credit crunch is not all about saving money, but about recognising that instead of multi-tasking, with patchy results, accessing the smartest advice from specialists can help a company flourish.
“It’s not just about surviving the recession any more, it’s about the way the recession has changed the landscape forever,” Mel says. “It’s shaken the market up completely and the savvy SMEs are thinking long-term. They want to kick start their growth. It’s not only about reducing the firm to a lean operational backbone in the short term, it’s saying ‘How do we operate to the absolute best of our abilities in the future?’”
“For example, if you have a sudden peak in a certain type of activity, it makes sense to get someone in to provide ad hoc help with it for as long it lasts - but no longer than that.”
Mel says confidentiality and disclosing commercially sensitive information should not be an issue. “It’s a question of working with organisations and partners you trust. An outsourced provider will not necessarily have any more information in their hands than an in-house employee would, and employees can come and go. In the past we’ve been entrusted with bank details and have even made money transfers on behalf of clients.”
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