1. You’re the CEO and you spend more than half your day doing non-strategic work.
Many startups, especially those bootstrapped, expect their execs to help manage all the initial workflow. While the title CEO may adorn your business card, you may also find yourself being customer care agent #1, data specialist or software engineer during part of your day. It is just the nature of startups that when you need some functions for fractions of a day you’ll do this.
But when you are so tied up in the operations that you can’t get on with the vision and strategy, you may be ready to outsource.
2. There is a lot of repetitive work.
When you start having repetitive workflows this is a good thing mostly. It generally means you are stabilizing your product or service and the constant fire drills are being replaced by more predictable work.
When you can define and describe specific operational functions, and they are relatively stable, they are generally ready to outsource. They don’t need to be completely evolved, but if they have some defined rules and guidelines you should be fine.
While some old school outsourcers need you to promise not to change your workflows more than once a quarter as their change process can’t handle so much evolution, the majority of the BPO industry is now able to flex and adapt with you.
3. Your operations headcount has hockey-sticked.
Once you see strong growth in operating headcount this is generally a good indicator that the business is maturing and you are hitting your stride, but it can also start to affect your culture in unforeseen ways. HQs that are suddenly filled with sales development teams or data curation teams can lose some of that momentum – and it can become less fun for the small team who got you this far.
4. It is taking too long to hire.
Measuring hiring cycles is an important aspect that every businesses’ HR and recruitment team should be studying. If it is taking longer and longer, and when you find open spots, particularly lower end positions, that you can’t fill, you might be ready. An outsourcer will have access to different talent pools, and that can be a huge help.
5. You’ve run out of space.
You’ve jammed too many people into your cool start up space already and have nowhere else to put anyone. It may seem trite but the disruption of relocating can put you back substantially, plus you generally see a lot of additional fixed and recurring cost you maybe hadn’t planned on yet. Outsourcing is all variable cost, so can be highly appealing.
The hardest thing for an outsourcer to predict is when you will need them, but unquestionably if one of the above is happening to you, it might be time for you to pick up the phone to them.