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What does every startup always need more of, no matter how well or hectic things are going? Time. What’s the fastest way to give your team more time? Outsource the tasks that you need executed properly but don’t have the on-site expertise to handle.
It’s something as simple as giving your team back 10% of their day by removing the need to create meeting notes and to-do lists, having a non-HR professional manage your payroll, or even answering the phones to create appointments.
There’s an endless sea of manual, labor-intensive activities when it comes to running a business. To help your startup get a handle on those tasks and take the troublesome ones off your plate, it’s time to turn to the new world of Outsourcing 2.0.
Business process outsourcing is a next-gen outsourcing where you work with a leading company like Invisible to contract out specific activities that are vital to your business operations and responsibilities. You’re handing over an operation that your business needs to survive.
That means you need a high-quality partner with proven capabilities to manage and tackle the specific tasks you want to outsource. For startups, that often means generating leads so your team can focus on closing. That’s where we’ll start.
One of the chief reasons to turn to BPO is to handle the things that you absolutely need done but may not have the amount of time to dedicate to doing them right. This is where BPO can give you a win-win:
The best example is lead generation for your startup. Who has hours it takes to comb through LinkedIn to sort by company size and find the right person? What about all the extra time to doublecheck contact information and use profiling software to see if the lead likes an aggressive approach or a gentler one?
BPO gives you access to people who specialize in market research and target generation, using the best tools available to fill your pipeline with quality leads. It’s the right first step in qualifying every lead you contact, which means you’re prioritizing the customer who matter most and not wasting time (yours or theirs) when someone isn’t a good target.
Take BPO one step further by having those same outsourced researchers also do your initial outreach. Whether you’re cold emailing to large groups from things like conference attendance lists or want to make a warm call after that LinkedIn connection request, BPO is your go-to for initial success.
Stick to tasks like simple introductions and scheduling time to see a demo with experts who can call quickly, speak promptly, and describe how warm someone was to the idea of your business. No matter the size or shape of your funnel and outreach efforts, BPO can fit it easily.
Plus, you get the great benefits of scaling up and down as you need. At the same time, you’re not paying for extra equipment or space when things get rolling. Plus, the right outsourcing partner will have experts in the area of lead generation and introduction, meaning you’ve got a qualified team at reasonable prices.
BPaaS is one of the harder cloud services to get a handle on for many because it can mean a wide range of things at any given moment. The crux in our outsourcing conversation is that BPaaS relies on automation of systems and tools to accomplish tasks via software, instead of simply moving manual work from your staff to an outsource partner.
This realm focuses on APIs to share data, software to perform tasks, and reporting to show you what has been accomplished. Think of it as a platform or programmatic BPO.
Payroll outsourcing is one of the most common BPaaS initiatives and it can be a major time saver for any startup. As you onboard and manage new teams, hire contractors, run a mix of full- and part-time staff, or even hire in multiple locations, payroll gets significantly more complicated.
Ensure that your team gets paid correctly and on-time with BPaaS. These outsourcing systems do everything from handling and confirming bank account details to withholding the proper taxes based on employee location, paying your tax obligations, charging for benefits like health plans, and adjusting appropriately when someone is on vacation.
If you offer vacation time based on hours worked, payroll BPaaS solutions can also calculate that for you and even allocate it appropriately when someone is off enjoying the beach.
Managing a calendar can get exceedingly tricky for startups, especially as you mix events for new sales and existing customers. There’s a lot to juggle, especially with the chaotic schedules we all seem to be running lately. BPaaS can help you address that.
Outsourcing is a wonderful way to tackle a variety of tasks and scaling that outsourcing takes different flavors. If it is just you setting your schedule and managing appointments, you might be able to work with a virtual assistant and outsourcing partner to keep things clear while only paying for a few hours each week.
When your team and sales grow, there’s more demand and greater flexibility needed. BPaaS can work to manage all schedules and availability — even routing people to the right event or call based on their profiles — when it comes to managing bookings and attendance. Many airlines use BPaaS to handle online bookings, but there are plenty of small-size BPaaS platforms that do the same work for entrepreneurs who offer classes and seminars.
Your audience, large or small, can make reservations for a wide range of events and needs without you ever having to manage the software or adapt it as your business model changes.
Business process automation (BPA) is a method of automating recurring tasks through software and apps. Your ability to maintain a high degree of control while automating distinct functions sets it apart from other outsourcing and automation techniques. BPA will generally focus on automating processes and workflows instead of human labor or decision-making.
BPA can either operate as true automation that is a stand-alone function, or it can be part of larger efforts that include a variety of outsourcing as well as efforts for business process improvement (BPI).
Creating the right post for your social channels is only half the game. The other is putting things together and getting them out at the right time. There are plenty of stats that will show you whether Tuesdays at 8 a.m. are great for your B2B LinkedIn posts or if your core Instagram audience is active on Thursday nights. You can hardly be available to share those photos, stories, tags, and more at every right moment.
So, don’t stress it, automate it. Using BPA tools and outsourcing partners, you can free up a significant amount of time by planning and automating posts. There are common, free options but these won’t adapt based on the performance of your social.
Turning to an outsourcing provider with BPA tools gives you a leg up by ensuring you have A/B testing. These companies can post for you and make minor changes to reach your audience based on past results and the latest research. You can also get instant help finding new content on days or weeks where you’re behind.
Posting can quickly become social media marketing in full, which is useful if it takes off for your startup but no one on staff is a master of the channel.
Growing startups, especially those in the software world, have a lot of customer interactions. However, support requests and trouble tickets can eat up a substantial portion of your day — especially when you’ve got common issues that crop up over and over again.
BPA can help your startup solve these through a variety of methods. The simplest is to use small tools to create automated replies based on the reason for a complaint or ticket. You tell the BPA solution what to look for and how to respond, and it takes care of the sizable chunk for you. This is great when you’ve got an issue in an update that you’re working on fixing — you get to let everyone know without having to stop your efforts to address it.
More advanced options can turn your FAQs into a knowledgebase for chat. They then pair this with live agents and you get expert responses from people who can answer real questions and concerns. The automation here is that you’ve turned your data into something searchable and deliverable to the agent — automating so that they can provide better service. This is how BPA can play a role in BPI efforts that improve the capabilities of your startup.
Back office support functions are those that improve customer service and business management but aren’t directly visible to the customer themselves.
You no longer need an in-house person to answer the phone thanks to the miracle of smartphones and call-forwarding services. Many businesses turn to directories and messages to run these tasks, but that might not be right if you have a lot of important calls coming in each week.
Your customers, partners, and leads don’t want to press “1” multiple times and then dial by name in a directory. They want to talk to a person, just like we all do.
However, you might not have enough work to have someone always manning the phones in a central location. If that’s you, then consider outsourcing the receptionist roles. Here, you pay based on when your partner is performing the task. So, early-on your costs are low but you have the availability to scale as you need.
There’s a wealth of project management and productivity tools available to us, and often they seem to generate more work than time savings. Make the most out of these options by outsourcing their maintenance and updating to remote teams.
Giving the task of creating and managing to-do lists to someone else will help you think and plan for the big-picture items you need. Let someone else follow-up with team members to check a project status and fill out forms on a Trello board.
Shoot over a call recording to your outsource partner and have their team transcribe the whole thing plus translate the items you went over to a to-do list, allowing meetings to happen organically and not go so long that people fall asleep.
The process will save you much more time than you think and is incredibly easy.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is the creation and use of small programs called bots that do the same task over and over. An RPA execution will have a bot work on repetitive, high-volume tasks where the system or action stays the same. Usually, the machine involve will “watch” as a human performs an action or set of actions and then it repeats those without needing a human to be involved.
The important aspect of RPA outsourcing is that a business process outsourcing (BPO) provider like Invisible can use it to manage a wide range of processes, but that people are watching over processes and aspects of outputs. People are still involved in the process and results, but the process is highly accurate thanks to the automation.
Let’s start the RPA conversation with one the last places most are going to think about: returning goods bought online. RPA is a smart tool for processing and understanding returns and processing them because it’s a lot of data entry across multiple systems.
When you leave it to humans, returns can take a long time and the process of getting the return request, confirming with the customer, creating a return label, and emailing it the customer is cumbersome.
Turning it over to RPA can allow customers to select the return and reason for it, then move through each step almost immediately. At the same time, it can automate the updates for your internal systems to track customers, update profiles, note reasons for returns, and start analysis. If you run your own warehouse, it can also manage the orders to get the item reviewed and back in your inventory count — that’s one bot replacing a variety of activities usually managed by multiple people in distinct locations.
As your business grows, accounting requirements grow too. Sometimes, the work expands exponentially which can stretch your employees too thin. You can counter this with RPA targeting accounting and finance systems, especially when it is merely getting things ready for your team.
Two common RPA tasks for this department include the processing of invoices and expenses, getting all of the data ready and helping your team make quick approval decisions so things can get out the door on-time. RPA tools not only manage the processing but can be set to automate statements and reports at the end of the day or week, so leadership always understands today’s cashflow.
Your team gets to focus on approval instead of data entry, making it easier to flag issues, correct problems, or reconcile with vendors and partners when there’s an issue.
Any startup that feels crunched for time is one that’s ready for outsourcing, especially BPO. The big decision is how to get started, and how you can evaluate the company who will be helping you run your business. That’s a lot to tackle and every path is different.
Thankfully, partners like Invisible Technologies are there to help you understand your options and quickly get started. Our capabilities are designed to deliver top talent and high-quality automation so your systems can run on autopilot while you grow and grow. There’s no need to build your own tech stack or spend hours on HR.
Contact one of our dedicated account managers today to learn more about how Invisible can help you grow. And, be sure to ask the most important question of us and anyone else you consider: What outsourcing partner is best for my needs?
We’ll walk you through BPA, BPO, BPaaS, RPA, and much more. You’ll end the call in a better place to know what to choose and how to grow, no matter the partner or mix of providers you choose.