Say Know' to Small Business Outsourcing - Page 2

May 1, 2007

Mark Cioni

Know What It Will Take – A common expression of relief I hear with smaller businesses usually rears its cute little head right about now. “Wow, all we need now is some quick training for the staff and we’re off and running ... this is gonna be great!”

Yep, best thing since the UNDO command, but let’s try not to undo all our good work up to this point. We might assume that change leadership only applies to larger organizations, but we’d be wrong. In many cases, the impact of change is felt even more keenly in smaller organizations and people often have much more multi-functional roles, less time and fewer resources.

This only underscores the need for identifying exemplars to champion the change and structuring training effectively. Don’t forget other essential elements inherent in effective change efforts such as orchestrating functional and technical support, administration for business processes and infrastructure, and the ability to instrument the infrastructure.

Know That You’re Making Progress – The beauty of outsourcing in smaller business environments is that we can usually understand fairly quickly whether we’re moving in the right direction. Obviously that means that we can measure progress toward the results we’ve identified as important.

If our key indicators of progress are positive, that’s great. We should be looking at how to optimize our progress. If we’re not headed in the right direction, do we have enough information to understand why? Do we know, for example, whether we have a broken business process, or the wrong infrastructure, or even a training issue?

The key is to ensure that we understand how to measure success, many times in both quantifiable and subjective terms, for the organization. This can be a bit of a paradigm shift for smaller businesses who might not be accustomed to the equivalent of Performance Management, but it’s a critical success factor.

Yes, in many ways outsourcing can be incredibly valuable to the smaller business. Using the same core decision process and principles as larger organizations gives entrepreneurs a much better chance of getting it right for their small business, and shows why a small business should always say “know” before saying “yes” to outsourcing.

Mark Cioni is president of MV Cioni Associates. He has been helping global businesses to improve their decisions, operations and performance for over 25 years and can be reached at

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