With over 15 years’ experience supporting public sector engagement projects, Faresh Maisuria, director at Blueberry Marketing Solutions, shares some advice on selecting the right outsourcing partner.
The decision for a public sector organisation to outsource their business engagement strategy, is often owing to its flexibility – it is easier to scale and manage than the hiring of new staff members. It is without a doubt that the recession and economic uncertainty have encouraged organisations to turn to outsourced solutions over increasing headcount.
Before taking steps to outsource, you need to be confident that the chosen company complements your current in-house processes. It is vital that the company understands the skills and expertise, as well as the ethos and values your institution holds.
As a public sector organisation, you don’t want to establish an external delivery partner that doesn’t have the right knowledge to maintain the same professionalism or demonstrate the same level of understanding as you would internally.
To ensure you’re choosing the right company to add value to your internal engagement processes, firstly explore the market and take note of what costs and metrics other companies in the market are offering. Secondly, consider if their values align. This is absolutely essential as within a niche market, for example, reputation can be paramount.
Taking the time to find the right partner will be very beneficial and avoid the risk of draining your internal resources. For example, if you are passed low quality leads not only is the business engagement budget wasted, but the internal resource is being committed to activity which will have little chance of success.
Even if it turns out a company isn’t right for your organisation, the research still gives you information to benchmark internal performance against, so make sure you explore what is out there!
WHAT TO OUTSOURCE
Once you’ve decided to outsource and found the right partner, the next step is deciding which elements of your processes are appropriate to subcontract.
This involves analysing your current business engagement processes and understanding which areas will be delivered most efficiently in-house and what could be more cost-effectively handled externally. Are there any have bottlenecks within the process that take up a disproportionate amount of the engagement teams time and reduce the overall flow of leads and opportunities down the pipeline? What are the skills gaps within the team, and are there elements of the process that don’t meet your expectations?
It is also important to consider the opportunity cost – if the team displays above average performance at onboarding prospects who have already expressed interest, but have below average performance at generating leads, the lead generation activity is significantly reducing their capacity to engage new businesses and is draining resources away from the areas where they should focus on.
When deciding which processes to keep internal, take into account where in the process more technical expertise is required, and therefore best delivered by those internal staff that hold this knowledge.
Finally, while cost is often taken as a deciding factor in whether to outsource or keep in-house it is important to also consider efficiency, flexibility and the kind of coverage that each can achieve. In addition, the managerial costs of training, managing and supporting the business engagement function are often underestimated, or even completely overlooked in the analysis.
SELECTING AN OUTSOURCING MODEL
There are a whole host of options on the market when looking at the best model for outsourcing, all with their advantages and disadvantages. When deciding which the most appropriate option is, it is important to take into account your target market, the services you are promoting, how these are positioned and which businesses they applicable to.
Commission and price per lead models present a reduced financial risk, although they can result in outsourcing partners forcing through fewer suitable leads. This can dilute your offering, potentially damage brand reputation and even lead to more fraught customer relationships longer term if they have not ‘bought into’ your ethos and values from the offset. Daily rate options present more risk and it is, therefore, important that the supplier you choose has appropriate experience. They should also provide the right assurances that they will get to know your products or services properly.
Finally, if you do outsource, manage the relationship in a way that works for you – for example, if you don’t want to be tied into a long-term contract there are more flexible options out there which can work on a project-by-project basis.