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What Is the Definition of Outsourcing?

Outsourcing employees to complete certain tasks often saves money, increases efficiency and streamlines production. Evaluate your business’ needs, budget and resources to determine which tasks to outsource. This article defines outsourcing, details common tasks businesses outsource and shares pros and cons of outsourcing.

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What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing occurs when a business hires someone outside of the internal staff to complete a task for the company. An outsourced person is usually a contract employee who has training and expertise on a certain work-related task or role. They typically complete short-term projects or ongoing assignments that other employees lack the skills or time to finish. Outsourced employees usually work remotely.

Reasons businesses typically outsource employees are to:

  • Keep up with tasks and responsibilities in a growing business
  • Complete short-term projects
  • Save time and money training current employees
  • Let full-time employees focus primarily on core responsibilities and tasks they’re most proficient in
  • Provide more office space for internal employees

Related:5 Steps to Creating an Effective Training and Development Program

Common tasks and roles businesses outsource

You can outsource an entire role or certain tasks to employees, depending on your business’ needs. Common roles and tasks employers typically outsource include:

Virtual assistant

Consider hiring a virtual assistant if you have simple administrative tasks available and don’t need them completed in person. Save time communicating in person by sending a list of tasks via email each day. Many virtual assistants have extensive knowledge of other basic tasks like social media management, report and presentation preparation, simple digital marketing tasks and event management. Most virtual assistants complete work in less than 40 hours a week, meaning you won’t have to pay a full-time salary.

Content creation

Some companies have several content pieces due at once. Many businesses, like marketing agencies, outsource copywriters to write content like blogs, social media posts, advertising copy and email campaigns. External content writers usually charge by the word, initially saving you money and resources hiring full-time writers.

Graphic designer

If you lack the resources or workload to hire a full-time graphic designer, outsource this task to a designer who typically charges by the project or hour. Graphic designers complete projects like logos, website designs, advertising graphics and photo editing.

Customer support

Other locations and companies have full customer support teams trained to serve customers and answer questions. Outsourcing customer support keeps you competitive with the industry and is usually less expensive than hiring an entire customer support staff. The call center team receives extensive training on your company and product to best address customer questions and concerns.

IT services

Save money on purchasing computer hardware and software by outsourcing IT services. Many IT companies hire employees to perform IT related tasks for businesses either from the employees’ remote location or by occasionally visiting the business’ office. These employees are already trained and have a data center in their own office, saving you time and resources. They complete projects like security and data protection, bug fixes and application development.

Related:11 Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Employees


Businesses that manufacture their own products usually outsource to other companies with more employees and time dedicated to creating products. This helps reduce labor and overhead costs. Most outsourced manufacturing employees make, test and ship the products for you.

Human resources

Some businesses either outsource all of their human resources tasks or they keep a full-time human resources employee and outsource smaller tasks. This helps internal human resources employees focus on big-picture projects. Common human resource tasks to outsource include recruiting, payroll, conducting employee training sessions and crafting employee handbooks.

Related:Outsourcing Human Resources: Things to Consider

Pros and cons of outsourcing

While employees and supervisors benefit greatly from outsourcing, there may also be a few drawbacks.

Pros of outsourcing can include:

  • Saving money, time and resources hiring and training new employees
  • Freeing up office space for more internal employees
  • Keeping up with growing responsibilities and tasks without hiring or training new employees
  • Allowing employees to focus on more challenging and extensive tasks
  • Streamlining production and improving production amount
  • Submitting higher quality projects quickly

Cons of outsourcing could be:

  • Regularly managing and maintaining constant communication with third-parties
  • Receiving late or low-quality projects from outsourced employees
  • Increasing the business’ security risk by giving personal company information to outsourced employees
  • Putting internal employees’ job security at risk by hiring outside team members

Frequently asked questions about outsourcing

What is outsourcing in simple words?

Outsourcing first started as a business strategy to help companies increase efficiencies and save money. It originally formed to outsource manufacturing jobs to different countries and has evolved into outsourcing different kinds of services originally completed by internal employees to third parties. Outsourced employees are typically found anywhere in the world, giving you the opportunity to outsource jobs to employees in different countries, states or cities.

What is an example of outsourcing?

A bookstore outsources a web designer to boost its online presence with a new website. They find a designer who can build and optimize their websites to appear more prominently on search engines. The outsourced employee shares how much they charge an hour and how long it’ll take to complete the project. Once the project is finished, the employee ends their contract with the business. The business may occasionally rehire the outsourced employee to continue updating the website or to provide any other design needs.

What is the purpose of outsourcing?

Outsourcing allows your internal employees to complete projects efficiently without hiring and training new employees. It also helps you save money from hiring a full-time employee to complete certain tasks. This is especially beneficial for small businesses that are growing but still lack the resources needed to bring on new team members or hire seasonal employees to complete these tasks.


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