In Entrepreneur magazine, Nancy Mann Jackson points out the advantages of using the freelancing websites for small jobs, but fails to distinguish this from business process outsourcing.
The freelancing sites are excellent choices to find somebody to make a brochure, logo, website, etc. As long as the job is to be done in a short period of time, and the client need only define the job up front and then test the results with a quick look over after the job is complete. It’s a binary done correctly or not done correctly choice at the end, with perhaps a few questions and answers or corrections to be made in between. If the job requires the client to lean over the shoulder of the freelancer with lengthy chats or phone calls this will quickly become a nightmare of time wastage.
One of the biggest limiting factors for any small business is management time, simply because the managers are typically the owners and wear a bunch of other hats during each day. Spending personal time to train up a freelancer to do exactly the right job and then sending them on their way is time wasted, if there is no other alternative.
Business process outsourcing involves hiring a company to manage a process that supports the day to day operations of the company. This BPO partner will then work with the client to document the process both in how the agents do their jobs, but also in the visibility of the process to the client. It’s not just the work that’s being outsourced, but also the management of this work. The management time that this frees up is then put to competitive advantage in other areas. Once this relationship is established, the size of the process can be easily expanded as the client’s management now has the free time and assurance to focus on expanding their operations.
Treating a freelance project like a BPO or a BPO like a freelance project can be very costly, not just in lost money, but more importantly in the time wasted at the top. The result can be other matters starved of needed attention, and left to cause later problems for the company.