02 nd Aug Tips to outsource
Tips to outsource
It’s usual for our customers to share their motivations for outsourcing services to us. Over the years we’ve noticed common themes in the tips and advice given by those that have mastered the art of effectively managing external service providers. It’s advice that has been invaluable in helping us select effective external suppliers of our own and refine our own service. Whether regulatory services or recruitment services, these are our six favourite gems on how to successfully outsource:
1. The money trap
Be it booking holiday flights or outsourcing a project at work, hands up those of us that have fallen into the trap of referring to ‘the cheapest’ as ‘the best value’? In the business of regulatory affairs, where later corrections can cause enormous and expensive problems down the line, best value really can’t mean the cheapest as there has to be an assumed level of quality. Whilst there are EU procurement principals to guide you here, one of our favourite takes on how to select the ‘best value’ outsourcing supplier is by considering that which gives the highest added value for the money. For example, in our suppliers we might value those that provide us a service that is of high quality, convenient and where communication is flawless. So, should three suppliers each quote us an amount that is plus or minus say 10% of one another, the supplier adding the greatest amount of value for the money is the one whose quote includes assurance of quality (be it a ISO9001 accreditation or client retention statistics), provides their standard operating procedure regarding client communications and includes client testimonials that demonstrate their remote working practices are effective and convenient.
2. The proof is in the pudding
You’re only as good as your last piece of work, so the supplier that publicly demonstrates their recent case studies, recommendations and client references on their website or in their literature is reassuring. You can also go one step further and ask that an NDA is put in place between you and your prospective supplier so you can see the names of the clients that those case studies refer to.
3. The junior associate
It’s difficult to be sure that once the supplier has won your work (perhaps based on the experience and skill of the senior consultant), how much of it will be delegated to their less experienced junior counterparts. Whilst senior consultants working administrative tasks will not be cost efficient for you, clarity regarding the degree of expertise that will be working for you is crucial. Ask to see the people’s CVs that will be working on your project. Receiving a good mix of senior and junior CVs is a good indication that you’re likely to get good financial value from this supplier and that charging structures are representative and fair. Which leads us onto your next important consideration…
4. How will I be charged?
When it comes to outsourcing, the preferred choice is usually paying your household water bill based on what you use, not based on an estimated, average household consumption. So, you’ll want to see an appropriate breakdown of the billing scheme that reflects the different rates of both the senior and junior consultants that will be working on your project. Consider asking how they capture, log and bill their time to you. For instance, if they use specialist software that can report on their progress throughout the project, it’ll help demonstrate that fair and representative billing is as important to them as it is to you.
5. Stand out
It goes without saying that those seven most expensive words in business, ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’, are not what you want to be able to recognise in your prospective supplier. In contrast, you want to know what really does make them different and stand out from their competition. This question focuses on your prospective supplier’s company values. Perhaps they will tell you that they’re different because they’re unbeatable on cost. In which case you might consider if quality is a core value for them. Or perhaps, they’ll talk to you about returning customers and high customer retention levels. In which case, you might want to ask how that’s improved over recent years to ensure it’s not a marketing statistic but something they are proud to monitor and continually improve on.
6. It’s as easy as that!
This last question is one to ask yourself. It can also be the most valuable to you in determining the best value supplier. Throughout the process of evaluating suppliers, you’re always on the lookout for the outsourcing supplier that is used to these types of questions and that make this investigation an easy and effortless process for you. They are competing for your business so you’ll want a supplier that is working hard for you from the very start and that proves themselves deserving of your business.