As more businesses take advantage of cloud computing, file sharing, and various communications platforms like Skype, Zoom and Slack, the ability to seamlessly integrate remote workers with onsite employees has become much easier and more commonplace. Having a remote workforce has also led to an increase in outsourcing certain functions, such as marketing and administrative work to third parties like freelancers and virtual assistants.  Even with the increase in outsourcing, there remains confusion between outsourcing versus offshoring. Although there is overlap, the two have distinct differences.

Outsourcing vs. Offshoring

Outsourcing is the act of moving an internal function to a third party vendor or individual. Offshoring (a type of outsourcing) refers to moving operations to an entirely different geographic location, generally one with much lower labor costs, like India and China.

For certain basic tasks, like pure data entry, offshoring may make sense. But thinking about outsourcing in this way limits the possibilities and return that a business can make on using a virtual workforce. Instead, businesses should think more broadly and consider outsourcing complex and operationally important business processes. Even at a higher cost, the returns are greater, making outsourcing truly transformational for your business rather than just a time-saving option.

Think Bigger

When thinking about outsourcing, it’s natural to think about very routine administrative tasks that can take up your organization’s time. But you should also be considering outsourcing work that is operationally significant and requires skill and sound judgment. If you’re experiencing growth, you may have a number of departments that are drowning in work. Get them help! Examples might include getting your marketing department assistance executing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or email marketing campaigns. Help your HR department with payroll or benefits enrollment. If you’re a law firm, get extra hands for your paralegals or legal secretaries.

Similarly, you’ll want to outsource projects that require skills you don’t have in-house. If you have an overstretched COO moonlighting as a marketing manager or an office manager who is managing bookkeeping projects as well, bring in extra help to get these projects under control and allow your in-house staff more time and flexibility to complete the work that is required of them.

Get Somebody Qualified

These projects, which require skilled workers and collaboration, can be done by virtual assistants (just not any old virtual assistant or the cheapest VA option).

One advantage of hiring a virtual assistant with specialized knowledge and experience in a field like marketing, human resources, paralegal assistance, or bookkeeping, is that the virtual assistant doesn’t need additional training. Furthermore, outsourcing allows companies to access a much larger talent pool by not being limited to the smaller, local selection of skills workers.

Buy American

When you’re thinking about outsourcing, it’s a mistake not to consider a US-based virtual assistant. Utilizing a US-based VA provides important advantages over offshoring.

  1. Real-time collaboration: Working with a US-based virtual assistant allows for real-time collaboration during the business day. You can discuss changes to documents, troubleshoot issues, and work on changes to workflow in order to increase efficiencies. Have a quick question? Shoot your VA a text or ping them on Slack. Need to hop on Skype or Zoom to demonstrate how to perform a task? Your VA is available to watch, learn, and follow up with you in real time.
  2. Security and benefits of US laws: Data security, particularly the security of your personal information, is one of the most important things to consider when seeking a virtual assistant company. If your virtual assistant is based in the US, they are bound by privacy laws in addition to any contracts, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and other legal paperwork related to the terms of your working relationship which means your work, organization, and private information is protected. VAs working in foreign countries are not bound by the same laws and the legal regimes of the countries in which they operate may be weak and ineffective.
  3. Knowing the landscape: A natural understanding of US culture can be a significant advantage in marketing to a US audience. Your VA needs not only a mastery of the English language and a knowledge of American colloquialisms, but knowledge of cultural touchstones and current events. For attorneys, US-based paralegals have the advantage of familiarity with the legal regimes in which you operate. Knowledge of US procedure and how federal and state courts operate, for example, are of crucial importance to a litigator. The level of familiarity with these systems to a paralegal trained outside the US is questionable.

Conclusion

There are many ways outsourcing work can provide extra assistance to your business and—while it certainly makes sense to outsource basic, administrative work—making the decision to outsource entire areas of operational responsibility can help your business expand and flourish with the right virtual assistant. US-based outsourcing allows you to collaborate with a skilled professional who can manage significant projects and free up internal resources, allowing you to grow your business.