When to Outsource

Personnel dollars is one of the most difficult decisions you will make when your church is growing.  Who do I hire?  How do I hire?  When do I hire?  How much do I pay them?  Are we being fair?  These are all very difficult questions and I doubt any church leader thinks they have this figured out to a ‘T’.  But there are ways to appear larger than you are as you grow and that is through Outsourcing.

How do you know when to outsource?  There are several reasons I choose to outsource:

  • To Learn – If we are doing something and can outsource it and LEARN in the process, we are getting more bang for our buck.  We are getting the job done AND we are getting an education.  Bookkeeping has been a recent venture in this area.  We have very clean books.  We do either a yearly review or audit by an external CPA firm.  But we knew we could learn some ‘best practices’ and hired an outside firm to do our bookkeeping.  It was a great decision and it did exactly what we needed it to do – teach us how we could be better.  This is usually MID-TERM to LONG-TERM.
  • Expand Capacity  Growth is great and growth is chaotic.  Sometimes you just need a pressure release to get you through a season.  If you see your staff starting to look frazzled explore what you can outsource.  It is a great way to buy time and make a wise and prudent decision.  This is usually SHORT TERM.
  •  Need Expertise – You don’t know everything so just admit it.  We have saved thousands of dollars by paying someone who knows better than we do.  Can I talk to bankers?  Sure!  But there are others who live and breathe loans, rates, libor (whatever that means), etc.  And they can hang with the most intimidating banker negotiating a loan.  If it’s an important decision, look at bringing in bigger guns.  This is usually PROJECT SPECIFIC.
  • Special Skill Set – This may be a regular occurrence that simply needs a specific, specialized, hard-to-find skill.  This is usually REOCCURRING.
  • Need Wisdom – No this is not the same as ‘Need Expertise’ or ‘To Learn’.  Both of those the person is doing the work for you.  Here I’m talking consultants.  They come in with a ‘here’s what I think you should do’ or ‘here are the questions you need to be answering’ mindset.  BE CAREFUL in this realm.  We’ve hired consultants that didn’t have the DNA or understand our culture.  For instance we had someone tell us to wait to do something till next year.  We’re instead going to do it this quarter.  We knew our situation better than they did.  Good for us the advice was free.  This is usually PROJECT SPECIFIC.

Some of the areas we have either considered using or have used contract labor:

  • Graphic design
  • Video design
  • Audio Mixing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Consulting
  • Church Growth Consulting
  • Church Health and Structure
  • Loan Placement
  • IT
  • Database management
  • Database reporting
  • Web Design
  • Musicians
  • Worship leading

Just a few more tips:

  • Network.  Find off the grid talent.  It’s a good way to ‘try out’ people that are interested in a long term relationship with your organization.  They are usually more flexible as well.
  • Free yourself.  Realize that outsourcing is not long term.  You don’t like something?  Make a switch.  It’s perfect for those of you who have commitment issues.

Next Post – Friday February 17th – Hold Your To Tongue

2 thoughts on “When to Outsource

  1. Bryan Miles

    Hey Jeremy – this is a really good post. Thanks for trust us w/ your bookkeeping. Also … I would add to your list of potential outsourced items … 1) Virtual Executive Assistants for Pastors … and 2) Virtual Small Groups Pastors. Good, good post. Bryan

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