I picture my work with a glass of wine and a cup of coffee on my desk. When I start the day, I reach for the coffee. I decide what tasks to do today and I place any of the hard, nasty ones at the top of the list*. I think you know the kind of work that I mean. I hate to respond to regulatory orders for audits and information so that needs to happen with coffee. Fire someone – definitely coffee.
At some point in the day, I can switch to the glass of wine. What’s the difference?
Reaching for wine is when I’m working on the stuff that I’m really good at and love. I’m thrilled to spend time out of the office thinking about the whole company. I’m good at the Strategic Plan and building systems to protect the company. That’s why I consult in these areas. It’s drinking from the wine glass.
Do you ever stop drinking coffee?
You can kill off your zeal and joy by only drinking coffee. We all have some hard tasks that need to get done. The trouble starts when you never have time to get to the wine that revives your vision and gives you new energy.
We are all exactly equal in one way. TIME
Maybe you read this as owner of a 10,000 worker company. I direct 150 staff. The President directs 4 million workers in the Executive Branch. It doesn’t matter. We all came in early this morning with the same exact amount 10 hours to work. The day marches forward for princes as well as paupers.
You are probably doing some coffee work that wastes your essential leadership time and robs the joy.
I listened to one leader who tries to outsource everything except his core strategic tasks. What a fantastic idea! In my workday, I need to get more contracts for my company and build relationships with owners. Or I can spend the day hunting for the last audit and certificate of incorporation. Which use of my limited management 10 hours will move the company forward the most?
- The company that accepts your outsourcing knows how to do that one task
- You don’t have to hire excess capacity or worry about hiring/supervision/unemployment because everyone is working for the other company.
- Some outsourcing reduces criticism
- Choose an outsourcing company that is similar to your size. ADP is too big for most companies and they don’t really need your money.
- Plan how to measure whether the outsourcing is effective and how often to monitor. If you fire the janitors and bring in a cleaning company, you will need to have clear measurements of success, monitoring, and fraud control for theft. If you just give some strangers the keys and go back to your Strategic Plan, plan for a lot of coffee in days ahead 🙂
- Be careful of agencies which do so many kinds of jobs that they know a little about a lot of things. That’s like hiring yourself 🙂
- Watch for business changes and make sure that the contracted outsourcing still meets your needs. I use Netflix and recently got Amazon Prime. Suddenly, I wonder why I am still paying monthly for Netflix which I don’t watch that often.
10 Good Outsourcing Examples
- Payroll and Human Resources with a company such as APS. For us, APS is not too large so we can always speak to someone. Payroll is not that complicated for a payroll company. The software calculates taxes and pays employees. It’s ok not to watch them too closely since the employees and IRS are also watching. Many will also store required company documents and appraisals, training videos, time off requests. Etc. If it’s easy to use, then there is no downside to outsourcing.
- Janitorial – your part time janitors may be the worst. Few really want the job and janitors know more places to hide than the building inspector 🙂 Sadly, the janitorial company has similar trouble so you have to set this up carefully.
- Legal and Audit – you probably already outsource this
- Consultants for planning, cash management, and fraud – me 🙂 Very effective if the practice areas match your needs. Be careful with consultants who think they can do everything.
- Consultants to renegotiate loans, contracts and fire long term staff. Sometimes a fresh start is needed but consultants can be a buffer.
- Food – I’m amazed at service companies who run their own kitchen with all the problems of spoilage, regulations and staff. Outsourcing can’t be worse than what you are doing.
- Transportation and office equipment – lease everything and let someone else worry about repairs
- Clerical – we use Dropbox to store all corporate documents. 137,000 files today. A staff member in Indonesia labels them. I don’t have a filing cabinet in my office.
- Social media – there are a million eager workers in other countries who know more than you do about Google Analytics. Give it away
- Accounting and Accounts Receivable – an accounting and budgeting package always balances. You don’t have to check the assets against debits and credits! Once you have accidentally dropped a major line in an Excel chart from the SUM function, you will outsource and never look back
You are probably hesitating because you have seen some expensive quotes for outsourcing. True. So it comes down to three choices
- You hire another executive level staff member to take many of the coffee tasks while you save your 10 hours for leadership $$$$
- You burn yourself out and don’t advance the company because your life is all about the coffee jobs and you don’t even look at the wine. Company hires new CEO $$$$$
- You outsource and pay for some of the costs by reducing some operations staff and one less supervisor. $$
The coffee jobs are required but not essential. The wine jobs are all about the leadership and joy of the job. You have to find a balance that works for you and the agency. Outsourcing is one tool to take the 10 hours you are given today and invest it wisely. Start today.
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*Tracy, Brian. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2007. Print.