You became an educator to nurture young minds, not to get buried under miniature mounds of paperwork. You love working in a creative atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to express their individualism and to explore the world around them. Yet somehow, you find yourself tethered to a desk doing things that you were never trained to do– things like accounting, marketing, PR, and human resources.
To do what you love (which is fostering child-centered education), you run a Montessori school. But running a school requires that you focus on the administrative side, too. Running a school is not just about providing the right environment for the child, it’s also about creating a solvent business that will stay around for years to come. But how do you do both without investing long hours and sacrificing your sanity?
The answer is to outsource.
For many educators, outsourcing doesn’t pop up as the obvious solution to your woes. However, it’s highly likely that you’ve outsourced services already. For example, have you used a service to mass print “Open House” flyers? Or do you contract with an independent catering company to provide food service to your students and facility? If so, you’ve outsourced before, and already see the value of doing so. Let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of outsourcing your administrative tasks and what it may look like in a Montessori school.
What is Outsourcing?
Outsourcing is a common business practice where you contract with another company to provide goods or services. Every type of company uses outsourcing, from multinational corporations that use call centers to provide technical support to local chiropractor who hires a third-party janitorial service to clean the office after hours.
Although all of us are familiar with the concept of outsourcing, there are a few common misconceptions that may prevent you from embracing this business model in your own school. Let’s tackle these misconceptions:
Misconception #1: Outsourcing Takes Away Jobs
One of the most pervasive myths surround outsourcing is that you’re ruthlessly taking away jobs to feed your bottom line. This is simply not true. While you may not be hiring someone to work side-by-side with you in your school, you’re still hiring someone. In effect, you are employing another individual to do a job for you. When you outsource, you’re still contributing to the economy in a positive way.
Misconception #2: Once You Start Outsourcing, You Can’t Stop
Outsourcing works on a contractual basis. You enter into an agreement with the service provider for a definite time period. While you will be held to the terms of your agreement, your agreement should also have an end point (which may be one month from now, one year from now, or even five years from now). If you come to the end of your agreement, you’re free to decide whether you want to continue contracting with that service provider, work with another service provider, or hiring your own in-staff provider.
Misconception #3: Outsourcing Produces Inferior Results
There’s a running gag about outsourcing, and it’s not pretty. There is a perception that outsourcing your vital services leads to undesirable results. Let’s be honest– we’ve all been on the line with an inept agent from a call center far, far away. The last thing you want is to deliver uneven service because you outsourced. However, outsourcing itself isn’t the problem. The problem is choosing the wrong service provider (usually based on cost and not much else). Remember that you always get what you pay for.
The Benefits of Outsourcing School Management
Now that we’ve looked at common myths surrounding outsourcing, let’s take a look at the key benefits you’ll gain from using this business practice in your own school. Here’s why you should consider outsourcing:
One of the biggest reasons to choose sourcing is financing. When you outsource a service, you can control the costs a lot easier than if you hire someone to do that service on either a full-time or a consulting basis. Think about it: When working with a consultant for your accounting needs, you’ll pay considerably more than if you outsource to a service provider—sometimes twice as much.
The reason is simple: While they may be providing the same service as someone you hire full-time, service providers are able to compete on price because they contract with several businesses at one time.
By outsourcing, you’ll also cut down on the costs associated with finding and hiring a new employee. From advertising a new job to getting them acclimated in your office environment, every thing you do costs money.
Hire Based on Ability
Don’t get me wrong: Although outsourcing does save you money, it’s not about finding the cheapest possible solution. On the contrary, outsourcing actually enables you to hire people who are experienced and efficient at doing their jobs. You can hire experts (whom you don’t have to train on the job) to do the work for you which will substantially improve output.
Work on a Contractual Basis
Sometimes, you don’t want or have the budget to hire a full-time, in-house employee. This is where outsourcing shines. You can work with a service provider on a limited basis (as long as both parties agree to the terms of the contract). This means that if you only want to work with a service provider for six months out of the year, you’re able to dictate that upfront.
Reduce Management Involvement
When you work with a service provider to do the back office administrative tasks required to run a school, you free up your own time to do what you love doing best: Focusing on the students. Your staff isn’t tied up with day-to-day mundane tasks, like accounts receivable.
When you outsource a service, such as school management, you don’t have to live in constant fear. Rejoice! You’re not at the mercy of your staff member leaving the job undone. Outsourcing means that you won’t have to scramble to hire (and then train) someone at the last minute.
Remember that outsourcing isn’t about replacing your current staff but finding efficient solutions to problems you haven’t been able to solve elsewhere.
Reasons Against Outsourcing
To be fair, there are pros and cons to every argument. Here’s a look at the arguments against outsourcing:
Perceived Lack of Control
One of the biggest reasons against outsourcing is the idea that you’re not in control of what’s happening. You’ve outsourced your work to Timbuktu and now you have no direct involvement. In reality, you can work with a service provider whom you trust. Be sure that you know who you’re working with upfront and that you agree to open, honest, and frequent communication. As you continue working together and fall into a natural rhythm, you may not need to meet with them as frequently.
It’s true that you’ll spend money to contract with a service provider, but as we mentioned earlier, you may find that you spend a lot less than you would if you hired someone to work in-house. Before you outsource, you should carefully consider your budget and how much you’re willing to pay someone to help you solve a particular need.
Not only is outsourcing an efficient use of time, budget, and other resources, it’s also a proven business practice. In fact, outsourcing may be the smartest administrative decision you’ve made all year. If you’d like to learn more about how Hubbli can help you reduce your workload but increase your efficiency, schedule a free consultation now.