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Outsourcing and Using Virtual Assistants

A few rules to live by

by sandra beck  |  1783 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

"Outsource" a popular word in today’s business culture. The Harvard Law School Web Library defines outsourcing as the practice of contracting with an outside company in order to provide a service or product that otherwise might be too expensive, complicated, or time-consuming for the institution to do internally. A common example of outsourcing is that of copy machines, which are usually rented from andmaintained by an outside agency.

We all outsource work on a regular basis and we have for years. When you take all of your tax papers over to your accountant so she can prepare your taxes, you are outsourcing. You could have done it yourself, but at what cost? You made a decision to pay a professional to do it properly. It was a smart choice. Outsourcing is such a smart choice that millions of companies around the world have decided to outsource huge chunks of their companies to the far corners of the earth. Some of these companies have outsourced smart, some not so smart.

The first rule of outsourcing is that is has to be cost effective, which is not the same thing as cheap. I could take all of my tax papers to the 14-year-old girl who lives across the street; because she is smart she could probably figure out how to submit my taxes. I am quite sure she wouldn’t charge what my CPA charges -- but would she be cost effective? No! Clearly the money I saved in paying her reduced wage would be lost in paying fines or just not receiving the maximum deduction. Some companies have confused cost effective for cheap.

I spent four hours on the phone with GMAC the other day because I couldn’t find a single person who understood what I was saying. Please don’t misunderstand me -- everyone on the phone spoke better English than I can speak any other language, and I respect all of them for their ability to learn a second and a third language, but the fact is their command of the language was not good enough to conduct business in English. It was a tremendous waste of my time, but a great example of bad outsourcing! I know GMAC thinks it is saving money but what could have been handled in two minutes took four hours! Too bad GMAC doesn’t outsource to American Moms who have made the decision to be home with their little ones. Imagine what great publicity that would be for them. Not to mention how cost effective it would be.

This among other reasons was why I started Motherhood Incorporated. The business culture demands in many instances someone in command of the English language and someone who understand the culture. Recently a client came to my company because he hired a person on www.elance.com to write 100 blogs about speakers for his public speaking website. The person wrote 100 blogs including items about stereos, CD players, and other items that used "speakers."

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