Significant differences exist between “outsourcing” and “out-tasking.”
Out-tasking involves the hiring of a service provider to deliver a particular task with a relatively short deadline. Out-tasking requires service recipients to negotiate appropriate service agreements and to manage the service delivery from start to end. Such management skills involve project planning and implementation, with appropriate “project management office” oversight of the project before completion and to implement integration of the delivered project.
The challenges of out-tasking do not resemble those of outsourcing. Most often, the service recipient assigning a task is responsible for identifying the elements required for performance and supervising, verifying and testing how the work product is delivered. Most often, out-tasking involves specified deliverables upon completion, with intermediate milestones to verify appropriate progress is being made in the interim before completion.
Out-tasking does not involve the long-term commitments between organizations found in an outsourcing relationship. When difficulties are encountered, it is easier for an out-tasker to terminate the relationship and find a replacement. Switching costs and risks are higher in outsourcing than in out-tasking. Cultural fit is not as important in out-tasking compared to the long-term relationship of an outsourcing.
In short, there should be no confusion. Out-tasking requires a much lower level of organizational commitment and intertwining of organizational links between the service recipient and the service provider. Nonetheless, the outsourcing relationship can begin with a series of out-tasked projects, such as in the development and maintenance of software or staff augmentation for business process delivery.