Never Outsource This!

One of the most common questions I get about outsourcing and working with administrative assistants is “What work should I give my administrative assistant?”

In other words, which tasks should I keep, and which tasks should I have someone else do?

I like to present this question to people and see where they are at.  Suppose Mike, a small company CEO, is getting ready to go to lunch with a referral partner, and one of his employees tells him that the printer is out of paper. There’s no more paper in the supply closet.  Everyone is busy.  Big projects to work on.  Should Mike go buy a box of paper and reschedule his lunch meeting?

Many people say yes.  Mike should make sure the company is running smoothly.  Help out the team.

The right answer? Nope.  Mike needs to be doing what only Mike can do.  Only Mike, the company CEO, can make that personal connection with a referral partner.  Anyone can go buy paper.

You can find many lists of tasks that are good to outsource, even in the literature that Shared Hands produces.

Tasks such as setting up appointments, processing invoices, drafting emails, and so on—these are all good tasks to train an assistant to do.

But what about the flip side? Which tasks should not be outsourced?

There are several categories of work you should not outsource. I will cover just one of those kinds of work here—work that only you can do should not be handed over.  That seems obvious, but there are grey areas.  For example, a graphic designer would not want to outsource the graphic design part of an important project.

However, a large graphic design project has many sub-tasks that could be outsourced.  So, while the artistic work of the design project needs to be done by the artist, all the other work surrounding the project could eventually be given to an assistant.

Back to my example about Mike and the printer paper—only Mike can make that personal connection with someone who can refer business to the company.  That cannot and should not be outsourced.

So, if it’s only work that you can do, don’t outsource it.  Outsource the rest.