Virtual Assistant Outsourcing Models

As part of the Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC), I was honoured to be asked to share my thoughts on outsourcing and how to hire great subcontractors – as part of this, I discussed the different virtual assistant outsourcing models.

Different virtual assistant outsourcing models tend not to be well understood in the Virtual Assistant industry itself (let alone by clients!) as most VAs have only operated one type of VA business.  However since I’ve been a VA since 2004, I’ve run lots of different kinds of models within my business and strive to get the best results for clients.

But clients often question:

What’s the difference between a VA charging £15 an hour and one charging £35?

Why shouldn’t I offshore work?

Why can’t I have a dedicated VA who always does my work?

I thought I would explain a few different kinds of VA model and the pros and cons of working with them:

Outsourcing to a virtual assistantThe Project Manager Virtual Assistant

So this is what we use at Virtually Sorted. Day to day all the work comes into one central project manager who:

  • splits the task up into component parts
  • organises the work amongst several VAs so no one is overloaded
  • gets the work done on time.
  • The Project Manager also checks the work before it goes back to the client, so you have two pairs of eyes on all tasks.
Pros:

  • Less mistakes – two people check each piece of work
  • Continuity – if your VA is on holiday the project manager knows what is usually expected and will step in.
  • Specialists within the team allow for great skillsets that you can use in your business.
  • No limit to the hours they can work – the team expands to fit your workload when it’s busy.
  • Project Manager will be able to give you a strategic overview.
Cons:

  • It won’t always be the same person doing the tasks you set, so if it’s a job which requires other people’s input, it may well be dealt with by 2-3 different VAs depending on their availability and how long it takes to get relevant information from the outside source. You should check that there is a CRM which tracks what happens with each task to ensure continuity.
  • It will be slightly more expensive than a solo VA – circa £30/hour instead of £25/hour.

juggling virtual assistant tasksSolo Virtual Assistant

A single VA working alone.  They may have associates which they use in a crisis, but they won’t be used to regularly stepping in and working with the clients, so any cover they offer will need to be briefed as if you are working with a new VA.

Pros:

  • Always deal with the same person.
  • Will usually be a highly experienced executive assistant with wide range of business skills.
  • Slightly cheaper than a MultiVA – usual rates circa £25/hour.
Cons:

  • VA will have to take holidays / sick days.
  • May struggle to get work back quickly if your VA is busy with other clients.
  • Possibly having to pay in advance for blocks of time to reserve space.
  • Can’t flex the workload if you get busier – there are only so many hours in the day.
  • May not have their own work systems in place.
  • Could be classified as an employee unless they can satisfy HMRC’s self-employed status

offshore virtual assistantsOffshore Model of Virtual Assistants

UK VAs don’t like it when clients mention offshoring work.   Personally (having set up some of the offshore VAs systems as a consultant) and having worked alongside them with clients, they do have their place in the outsourcing ecosystem.

Our experience is that for simple, highly repetitive tasks which are not time sensitive and not confidential, offshoring can be a cost effective and efficient way of getting work done.

Pros:

  • Works for simple, repetitive, non confidential and non time sensitive tasks (AKA: The “donkey work” of admin).
  • Client benefits from low cost VA services.
Cons:

  • Doesn’t work for tasks requiring English – you can tell it’s been written by a foreigner.
  • Time differences can cause slow turnarounds.
  • High degree of time spent correcting or explaining work to ensure understanding.
  • Security issues (GDPR, confidentiality, difference in laws)
  • Any programming or design work will need checked for compliance testing and copyright.

Hopefully that gives you some insight into the different kinds of models and charging… Currently there are some really innovative ways of working with clients being developed in the VA industry.

One thing is for sure: Giving the clients great value will always work!

 

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