Endless benefits of outsourcing
Most businesses hire a Virtual Assistant to manage administrative tasks or conduct secretarial work and personal assistant services. These are the functions that are popularly associated with virtual assistance work.
But even before the new millennium set in, the roles and responsibilities delegated to VA’s have grown both in scope and prominence. Businesses started to outsource a wider range of services to a VA and these included payroll preparation, bookkeeping, market research, transcription, translation and social media marketing.
Through globalization, businesses are able to connect with other regions of the world where skills are available at lower costs. Outsourcing became a popular strategy to streamline business costs. As the need for outsourcing services grew, businesses eventually realized outsourcing was not just an effective strategy for reducing costs but could also contribute in building the enterprise itself.
Advantages of outsourcing
The Virtual Assistant is a component of outsourcing that renders services from a remote location. The biggest advantage of hiring them is their mobility. They can work anywhere as long as there is stable internet connection. With mobile technology producing more business applications, he can now become a more prominent, valuable asset in a company’s development plans.
A friend of mine, Chris, runs an outsourcing services company and shared an experience about a manufacturer of bottled water in Nepal who contracted him to do a project feasibility study for their product in South East Asia.
My first question to Chris was how he was able to connect with the bottled water manufacturer from Nepal.
“I have a Business Development Manager in Nepal. She started out as a Virtual Assistant but three months into the engagement, I discovered she had the skills and know-how to help me secure clientele from Nepal. She met a representative of the bottled water company in a networking event and made it happen.”
To prepare the project feasibility study for the bottled water company, Chris contracted VA’s in Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia which were identified as target markets. They are tasked to do a 2-phase project study, the first of which is a market study on demand and demographics. The second phase is a marketing study to determine the approach and methodologies.
By contracting them in key locations in South East Asia, Chris came up with a cost efficient way of generating references and sources for the feasibility outside traditional research methodologies. VA’s can conduct live interviews and surveys with relevant resource people involved with potential distribution channels and retail networks. VA’s can also research and provide more accurate information on current laws and policies on importation and distribution. Finally, marketing studies can be conducted with more accuracy and in ideal conditions.
All VA’s are given a time-table to complete a section of the research and discuss the findings with him 1-2 days after submission. The challenge for Chris is to consolidate the results of the research with his and arrive at a seamless report for the client. To this end, once all research is in, Chris invites everyone to a conference and shares the result of the consolidated study. Everyone is encouraged to share their comments and offer clarification on data.
The virtual teams are already in the closing phases of the marketing study and according to Chris, the bottled water company now wants to engage them for digital marketing and social media marketing work. Chris has a virtual team of social media marketers from the Philippines who are on stand-by.
In this day and age, the Virtual Assistant is no longer confined to non-essential tasks. Globalization and the need to introduce more efficient ways of doing business have created a niche for highly skilled individuals in the virtual world.