ProResource, LLC

June 26th, 2009 by | Print

proresourcelogoAs many of you know, I am a proponent of outsourcing – and no, it’s not solely because I provide consulting and copywriting services. I think it’s a big mistake to assume that you can master all of the day-to-day activities for your business. My strengths lie in sales, marketing and business building, but web design is better off left to others.

 

Today’s interview is with Judy Schramm, CEO of ProResource, LLC. Judy is a seasoned outsourcing pro – both as a customer and a provider. Let’s see what she has to say about why she created ProResource, the potential pitfalls associated with outsourcing and what to do to avoid them.

 

 

TSG:     I have reviewed hundreds of contracts in my time and used to find some interesting legalese added in to boilerplate documents. I knew that at some point in time the author had a specific negative issue that lead to the language. Was there a defining incident that led to the creation of ProResource or did you simply see a gap in the market?

 

PR:     There wasn’t really a defining incident. Basically, we’ve been doing outsourcing for 15 years – being on both sides – both as the company that was outsourced to and as a company that outsourced to a network of freelancers, consultants and virtual assistants.

 

Over the years, we developed a lot of processes, systems, tools and forms to make outsourcing easier and work more effectively.

 

A lot of people were interested in what we were doing. Whenever I would go to a conference and people heard what I did, they would want to hear more about how it worked. Everyone seemed to be struggling with the same issues. So we decided to turn it into a business.

 

 

TSG:     Do you service solo entrepreneurs or is outsourcing only for large companies?

 

PR:     We focus primarily on solo entrepreneurs. Everyone outsources now – from the smallest to the largest businesses – and it’s interesting that large companies make the same mistakes small companies do. But, it matters more to solo entrepreneurs, because they don’t have the reserves that larger firms have – they need to get it right.

 

 

TSG:     How long have you been in business for?

 

PR:     I have been working on ProResource for about 3 years now, but we officially became a business in November 2007.

 

 

TSG:     What changes have you seen in the demand for your services during that time? Is the demographic of the customer changing or the demand for specific products?

 

PR:     We’ve been in development for most of that time; we only just recently launched the courses and the community.

 

The offering has evolved a fair bit – we originally thought we were going to help people find individuals to outsource to. We have ended up offering the processes instead, along with a community of practice where people can get advice and share techniques that are working for them.

 

One change we have seen is that with the current economy, there are a lot more small businesses now than there were before. We’re seeing a real boom in entrepreneurship. I’m sure you are too. Many people who are unemployed are starting their own businesses. Others are freelancing for the first time to supplement their income.

 

The result is that there are a lot more business owners who are interested in outsourcing – who need freelancers, consultants and virtual assistants to help grow their business. And there are a lot more freelancers, consultants and virtual assistants available now to help them. It’s really a revolution in the way the workforce works.

 

 

TSG:     I’m a big believer in outsourcing. Moreover, I believe that the customer is at risk for not only disappointment, but also loss in dollars and time. What are some examples of horror stories that you’ve heard from customers who began projects ill prepared?

 

PR:     There are all kinds of stories. There was a website development project that ended up costing 4 times the original projection and still didn’t deliver a usable website. I know a company that spent about $5000 developing a new brochure that was complete ineffective. I know people who have come close to losing important clients because of mistakes their virtual assistant made. Also, businesses that have had to pay thousands of dollars in fines to the IRS because of mistakes their bookkeeper made.  

 

Many, many times outsourced projects run substantially over budget, take much longer than expected, and are still done wrong. You see people just tearing their hair out. It can be very frustrating.

 

 

TSG:     Do you need to educate most of your customers on the concept that outsourcing is an investment with a return when done right or do they already believe in outsourcing and simply need education on how to get the most out of it?

 

PR:     They already believe in outsourcing. They just need help making it work.

 

 

TSG:     In your “Outsourcing Fundamentals” course outline, you indicate different project checklists – one being “Personal”. What do you mean by this?

 

PR:     One of the things you can outsource to a virtual assistant is tasks that help you in your personal life. For example, maybe you want to buy a digital camera for your husband for his birthday. But, you don’t know anything about digital cameras and don’t want to take the time to learn. Your assistant can do the research for you and present you with a short list to choose from.

 

Or you might want your assistant to do the research for a family vacation or reunion. She can gather information about different cities and sites, get pricing, find out availability, even make reservations for you, and give you a detailed agenda with places to visit, restaurants, and everything else you need. That can be a huge time savings.

 

It can be smaller projects too. I know someone who has her virtual assistant make her daughter’s doctor appointments.

 

 

TSG:     Does your course address working with outsourcing vendors in foreign countries?

 

PR:     Yes, we talk about that. A lot of people look at outsourcing to low-wage countries. It can work out well if you have the right kind of work to outsource or if you excel at defining projects and training.

 

It’s not usually a good starting point for most businesses though. Everything is harder because of the cultural differences. The same words can mean different things, and with the lack of a shared experience base, you have to explain things in a lot greater detail and provide a lot more background information. Otherwise, you have misunderstandings.

 

The time differences can be a problem too – you might only have a few hours of the workday that overlap.

 

But, if you are patient and find a good person to work with, it can be very cost-effective.

 

 

TSG:     Do outsourcing projects typical fail because the customer fails to provide enough insight about the project, their company, their customer base, etc …? Alternatively, do projects fail because the customer did not perform an effective interview?

 

PR:     It’s not usually because the customer hired the wrong person. Sometimes it is, of course. But, most often it is a lack of insight, background information, training or poor instructions.

 

Very often, the real cause is that the project is just something that can’t be outsourced. There are a lot of types of work that are very hard to outsource effectively.

 

We say there are four skills you need to master to outsource effectively:

  1. Decide what to outsource
  2. Choose the right person to do the work
  3. Define the project correctly
  4. Get the work done right

 

You need to do all four right for the project to work out well. We teach how to do them correctly in our course, and we offer templates and checklists – lots of tools and systems to help make outsourcing easier.

 

 

TSG:     Your “Outsourcing Fundamentals” course description mentions inclusion in the ProResource’s community. It mentions, “… find members for your team”. Can you elaborate on this benefit?

 

PR:     Everyone who takes the Outsourcing Fundamentals course is running a business. Many of them are providing services to other businesses. Some of those services might be things you need.

 

So networking with other folks in the community is a great way to find people who are reliable providers and who understand how to make outsourcing work. They’re learning the same strategies and tools you are, which makes it even easier to work with them.

 

 

Thank you, Judy, for your participation in the interview. To find out more about ProResource, you can go to:

 

ProResource, LLC
5911 Skyline Heights Court
Alexandria, VA 22311
P: (703) 824-8482
W: www.proresource.com

 

 

As a solopreneurs, at best, you should only manage the aspects of your business where you are weak giving yourself time to focus on the areas where you are strong. Finding the right outsourcing partner is only one variable in a successful project management equation. Invest in outsourcing education. Take the time to learn the appropriate steps from ProResource, LLC.

 

All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide

Share

Leave a Reply

Security Code: