Outsourcing – One of the toughest decisions is making the actual decision
Outsourcing work offshore has been happening in the finance industry for over 10 years (if not longer).
When I started my business it was not on my radar, I mean when I started my business I didn’t even have any clients. So I didn’t exactly have anything that needed to be outsourced. I had all the time in the world.
However, over the past 5 and a half years business has continued to grow (thankfully). My team has continued to grow and our needs have continued to grow. When I hired my administration superstar Kirsten in July 2016 – I thought the role would be 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon. And even then I struggled to think what to get Kirsten to do. Hubby even called it a “pleasure hire” and not a necessity.
My idea was the role would cover diary management, organise appointments, sending invoices for bookings, setting up jobs in our workflow program, and general document management etc. Our client base is not “huge” so I thought this would be manageable (coming from someone who hates admin that was pretty stupid of me to put a time frame around the role).
But we got cracking and Kirsten just got me. She got how I worked, how I ran my business and how to deal with our clients. Over time, as things got busier, Kirsten’s role expanded into 2 hours minimum a day and the task list I presented her with just seemed to continue to grow.
Kirsten has her own business, her own family and her own life to juggle. So at the end of November 2018, something had to give and it pained me to receive her resignation letter.
I felt sick. Immediately. How on earth would I cope (yep, totally selfish thoughts on my behalf). But I felt like I was losing a limb. And a friend (even though we work remotely). She just knew everything about me.
However, for someone to put their own health and their own family before their job – well I could never begrudge anyone for making those kind of choices.
So where to from here? I spent a few days analysing my options and to think about the bigger picture. Where was Healthy Business Finances headed? What did I see as the role, who did I see filling it, realistically how much time needed to be dedicated to it, and what other changes could I make at the same time?
I narrowed down three options:
1. To not replace Kirsten and get my two bookkeeping staff to share the admin load
2. Replace Kirsten with another working parent seeking part time work
3. Outsource the role offshore and hire someone full time
Being the analyst and nerd that I am – I heavily scrutinised the pro’s and con’s of each option. Yep, I had a spreadsheet going with all the options and variables.
My two lovely bookkeepers said they would love to help out (massive pro), but their skills are numbers and I really didn’t want them to do admin work. In fact, I wanted them to upskill even more and do more client work, more advisory, more training. So the first option of not replacing Kirsten just didn’t seem to make sense to me.
The second option – hiring another working parent part time to fill the gap made sense. I love supporting return to work parents, but my fear is that I could only afford them part time, so if they got a better offer they would leave and I would have to go through the whole process again. Not ideal. I hire for the long term vision every time. I don’t want someone to just put in the bare minimum and not care about our business growth. Anyone I hire is part of our team. Genuinely, one of “us”. I just didn’t see how I could make this option work.
The last option of outsourcing offshore, just began to make more sense the more I investigated it. I could hire someone full time, I could give them a decent job (paying above standard wages in their country plus amazing benefits they wouldn’t get elsewhere), I could get someone solely dedicated to my business, PLUS, I could then have the time and resources to upskill my current bookkeeping staff. So they could take on more, get paid more and learn more.
As far as I could see – everyone wins (including my sanity – as pulling 12 hours days constantly is beginning to take its toll).
So, until I am proven wrong, I am happy with the outsourcing decision and I will be investigating it further. Will it be amazing, smooth sailing and implemented perfectly? Probably not – but nothing ever is. And this is one leap I am willing to take.
(Note: this is part 1 of a 6 part blog series written over 6 months. Before deciding to outsource overseas, to finding and hiring our new office manager, to working with someone offshore and managing the process).