Streamline Your Business:
Understanding Automation, Delegation,
and Outsourcing

As a business owner we are consistently giving and delivering; which is right; for us to sustain this pace, we need resources and support.  Tools to consider are: Automation, Delegation and Outsourcing.

 

Before we dive in, what are they?

 

  • Automation - is a method or system of operating a process by highly automatic means.  It also uses technology to reduce human intervention. 
  • Delegation - assign a person to act or represent you. Someone you can give a task to.
  • Outsource - to contract externally or send the project outside your business.

 

When should you Automate, Delegate or Outsource? How do you know which is the best option for the situation?

 

I recommend a good place to start is to look at your organization from a system, process, and workflow perspective.  In a previous journal, I shared How I use my Organizational Chart with Links to systems and processes to see the workflow of my business. 

 

Whatever way you view what is happening in your business as long as you can see or have an understanding of what is happening and how it happens you can think about each area, with each process in terms of:

 

  1. Can I use technology to deliver either part or parts of a process?
    The purpose of automation is to improve efficiency, accuracy, and speed in business processes, ultimately leading to increased productivity and reduced costs by freeing up people's time.   Look at what tasks are done over and over, what happens in your business that is repeatable?
  2. Can I delegate a task or part of a task that I am doing that is not a high priority for me to complete to someone else.  Freeing up my time and increasing human efficiency.
  3. Is there a skills or resources gap in my business that I could hire or contract an outsourced solution to complete?

 

Do you have a clearer understanding now of where you might Automate, Delegate or Outsource? Think it through because you don’t want to automate things you should be delegating or the reverse. Consider the outcomes, does it deliver higher value than before?

 

Some examples of what you might use where:

 

Automation

  • Finances - accounting software to track expenses, automatic bill payments, automatically sending invoices, debtor management 
  • Social Media - scheduling posts in advance, tracking and monitoring of engagement
  • Email Marketing - scheduling email campaigns
  • Communication - autoresponders for emails or meeting reminders
  • Customer Service - chatbot, FAQ’s with auto responders 

Delegation

  • Calendar Management
  • Social media - content creation, posting & engagement
  • Meeting Follow Up
  • Research, meeting, proposal or quote preparation
  • Anything that is outside your expertise that someone else in your organization has the expertise for eg: marketing or customer service 

This list is endless because you can delegate anything that someone else can or should be doing so you can free up your time for things that you should be doing.

 

Outsource

  • Website development & maintenance
  • Accounting, Tax Requirements, Bookkeeping
  • Supply - you may have external suppliers
  • Logistics in terms of storage and delivery
  • Legal 

 

I would also like to give you an example of how I use all three in the process of writing this journal. I do the writing, I use my own knowledge and expertise. I also use AI and research tools to give you, the reader, a good experience and offer you value for your time. Once I’ve written this journal, I delegate the review, spell checking, and grammar to a team member. Once I have the ok, I review again then delegate the automation of this journal to another team member. That part of the process is now done!

 

The next step is to leverage my time writing and sharing my knowledge from this journal's topics. I write emails for our subscription newsletter list.  Again, I write the emails then I outsource to a copy writer to refine each communication.  Once done, we automate the sending of each newsletter. Before I delegate to my digital marketing officer who creates content on our social media, she then automates the posting. I run the journal through AI tools and add results (as ideas) to a template.

 

For this one journal I use all three - automation, delegation and outsourcing.

 

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Now that you have some examples of how and where you might use automating, delegating, and or outsourcing; below are some factors that require your consideration.

 

Cost

  • Initial:
    • Automation: May require upfront investment in technology, software, and or infrastructure.
    • Delegation: Involves ongoing costs related to salaries, benefits, and training.
    • Outsourcing: Often comes with a lower initial cost compared to automation. It converts fixed costs (like salaries) into variable costs (fees per service or project).
  • Long-term Savings:
    • Automation: Can reduce operational costs over time but includes maintenance and upgrade costs.
    • Delegation: Ongoing personnel costs.
    • Outsourcing: Can lead to cost savings on salaries, benefits, and overheads but may include management and coordination costs.

 

Efficiency

  • Speed and Consistency:
    • Automation: Offers high speed and consistency, performing tasks without breaks or variation.
    • Delegation: Human efficiency can vary, but workers can adapt as needed
    • Outsourcing: Can be efficient if the service provider is specialized and experienced, but may include delays due to coordination and communication.
  • Error Reduction:
    • Automation: Minimizes human errors, enhancing quality.
    • Delegation: Prone to human errors.
    • Outsourcing: Depends on the outsourced provider but can reduce errors if the provider has good quality control.

 

Scalability

  • Growth and Expansion:
    • Automation: Easily scalable.
    • Delegation: Scaling requires hiring and training more staff.
    • Outsourcing: Offers flexible scalability without the need for hiring. Service providers can often scale quickly to meet demand.
  • Flexibility:
    • Automation: Less flexible in handling exceptions or unique situations.
    • Delegation: Highly flexible and adaptable.
    • Outsourcing: Flexible depending on the agreement with the provider. Can be quickly adjusted to meet changing needs with the right communication.

 

Quality

  • Standardization:
    • Automation: Ensures high levels of standardization and uniformity.
    • Delegation: Quality can vary based on individual performance.
    • Outsourcing: Quality depends on the provider’s standards and practices.
  • Innovation:
    • Automation: Good for repetitive tasks but limited in innovation.
    • Delegation: Humans excel in creative problem-solving and innovation.
    • Outsourcing: Can drive innovation if the provider has expertise and industry insights.

 

Risk Management

    • Operational Risk:
      • Automation: Reduces human-related operational risks.
      • Delegation: Subject to risks from human errors and variability.
      • Outsourcing: Mitigates some internal operational risks but introduces dependency on external parties.
    • Cybersecurity and Technical Failures:
      • Automation: Introduces new risks related to cybersecurity and system failures.
    • Delegation: Higher costs to cover skilled employees
      • Outsourcing: Involves risks related to data security and confidentiality. Requires robust agreements and security measures.

 

Impact on Human Resources

  • Workforce Reduction:
    • Automation: May lead to workforce reduction, affecting morale.
    • Delegation: Maintains or increases the workforce.
    • Outsourcing: Can lead to workforce reduction internally by transferring jobs externally.
  • Skill Development:
    • Automation: Reduces the need for manual skills but increases the need for technical skills.
    • Delegation: Promotes skill development and employee growth.
    • Outsourcing: Can lead to skill loss internally as relies on external expertise.
  • Employee Morale:
    • Automation: Can affect morale negatively if not managed well.
    • Delegation: Engages employees in meaningful work, improving morale.
    • Outsourcing: Can have mixed effects on morale. Remaining employees may feel insecure or relieved of burdensome tasks.

 

Compliance and Legal Considerations

  • Regulatory Requirements:
    • Automation: Must comply with industry regulations and standards.
    • Delegation: Complies with labor laws and regulations.
    • Outsourcing: Involves additional considerations for compliance with international labor laws and regulations, depending on the provider's location.

 

Competitive Advantage

  • Speed to Market:
    • Automation: Enables faster production and service delivery. Process becomes part of your IP.
    • Delegation: In house knowledge and IP continues to develop but is dependent on human efficiency. Process becomes part of your IP.
    • Outsourcing: Can speed up processes if the provider is efficient.\
  • Customer Experience:
    • Automation: Improves efficiency and consistency, enhancing customer satisfaction. Process becomes part of your IP.
    • Delegation: Human interaction can enhance customer experience. Process becomes part of your IP.
    • Outsourcing: Can improve or harm customer experience depending on the provider’s quality and service level.

Environmental Impact

  • Sustainability:
    • Automation: Consider the environmental impact of energy consumption and electronic waste.
    • Delegation: Typically lower environmental impact but depends on business operations.
    • Outsourcing: Environmental impact depends on the practices of the outsourcing partner.

 

Strategic Alignment

  • Business Goals:
    • Automation: Aligns with goals of efficiency and cost reduction.
    • Delegation: Supports goals of employee engagement and skill development.
    • Outsourcing: Can align with goals of cost management, scalability, and accessing external expertise.

 

Whether you automate, delegate, outsource or a combination - they are another set of tools in your bag of leadership and business ownership resources. The more tools that we can use that support our vision and purpose, the better.

FAQ

As an outsourced talent agency Alchemy Outsourcing would love to be able to support you in 

  1. Assessing where you might be able to automate
  2. Providing you with a virtual worker to delegate to
  3. Support recruitment and talent management by outsourcing to us
  4. Outsource project work through our Admin Concierge service 

Book a time to have a chat with me.

Until next time. Stay fabulous!

 

HEATHER DISHER
CEO and Managing Partner

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