For busy executives looking to offload administrative tasks to focus on higher-value work cost-effectively, offshore virtual assistants are an increasingly popular option.
Especially as the world has become more comfortable with remote work, the idea of hiring people in far-flung locations is not nearly as daunting as it once was.
Working with a VA from Manila isn’t much different from working with a VA in San Francisco when everyone is working remotely.
There are a couple of options when it comes to hiring an offshore virtual assistant: managed and unmanaged services.
What is an Unmanaged Virtual Assistant Service?
There are multiple unmanaged VA models available, from hiring a freelancer on a service such as Upwork to using a virtual assistant agency that maintains a "bench" of candidates, and you can choose the one most suited to your business.
What all unmanaged VA models have in common is that the VA's onboarding, training, and performance management is up to you.
What is a Managed Virtual Assistant Service?
In a managed model, the assistants are hired, trained, overseen, and paid by the service provider. They typically provide a management layer that comes with value-added services such as delegation consulting, service continuity, and security.
Customers in a managed model typically pay the service provider a flat monthly fee which covers all aspects of their service.
Which Model to Choose?
If you're looking to hire a VA, knowing which type of service is best for you isn't a one-size-fits-all type of approach.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each model.
Advantages of Unmanaged Services
The primary driver for directly hiring an offshore virtual assistant is the cost. A service provider will add costs to the assistant’s hourly rate. That said, rates VAs charge can vary, as do those of managed service providers. There are other advantages to the direct hire model.
- You have total control over how you work with the VA.
- You can set your hours.
- You can hire for specialized skills like web development and graphic design.
Disadvantages of Unmanaged Services
The disadvantages of directly hiring an offshore VA have to do with time and risk.
- You have to spend the time recruiting, interviewing, and vetting candidates.
- You also must invest in training, project management, and performance management.
- You have the overhead of payroll and any legal compliance with the VAs home country.
- If the VA doesn’t work out, you start over.
- Lack of control of data, device, and network security.
Related Reading: 4 Types of Virtual Assistant Services
Advantages of Managed Services
Managed virtual assistant services can reduce the time and many of the risks involved in hiring an offshore virtual assistant. The primary advantage of this model is that you get a team behind your VA that makes the service turnkey on your part.
You Don't Have to Manage Another Employee
This can be big because executives turn to remote assistants in the first place because they already have more admin work than they can or should handle. What we hear over and over is execs saying, "I just want someone to come in and make it work."
With a managed service, the service provider takes care of all of these functions through an account manager that is your partner in driving productivity.
No hand-holding is required.
You Have a Team Behind the Team
With a managed service such as Prialto, you're not just hiring an independent contractor. You're hiring an entire support team that includes:
- An engagement manager that turns your tasks into processes for the VA and serves as your advocate—if you have constructive feedback, you give it to the manager and not directly to the VA. That's the manager's problem, not yours.
- Two backup assistants fully trained on your processes to take over in the case of absence or departure.
- Two managers to handle any performance issues.
- A cohort of VAs that, between them, have seen just about every VA challenge and help one another when questions or roadblocks arise.
You Achieve Scalability
This is especially valuable for larger businesses and enterprises that are increasingly adopting managed virtual assistant services. It's much easier to scale up (or down) as business conditions change. It takes about 40 days and $4,000 to hire office workers.
If you want to add more VAs with a managed service, you can hire them in a few days. And you can build a team that works together for your executives.
You Don't Have To Worry About Security
Giving an independent contractor or freelancer access to your work using a BYOD computer has obvious security risks. How secure are the PC and the home network it sits on?
Finally, personal security. Is the individual trustworthy?
Managed virtual assistant services use secure facilities, computers, and networks and perform background checks on all VAs.
Related Reading: What to Know About Virtual Assistant Security Risks
You Have Access to a Vast Tech Stack
A managed VA service has hundreds of VAs with experience with just about every tech platform businesses use. CRMs, marketing automation platforms, prospecting tools, calendaring, travel planning, expenses and invoicing, and more.
If a VA needs some training or a refresher course, that's on the service provider. With an unmanaged VA service, any gaps in knowledge or experience are on you.
Disadvantages of Managed Services
Managed virtual assistants aren’t for everyone. Here are some of the reasons a managed service might not work.
- You want the lowest price possible. You won’t find it with a managed service because of the costs of delivering a high-touch service. That said, prices have narrowed.
- You need off-hours coverage. Most managed services can accommodate U.S. business hours, but they can’t always offer evening and weekend coverage as local employers.
- Need highly specialized skills like web design or coding. Most managed services focus on general administrative work, sales support, and back-office tasks.
- You only need occasional project help. Most managed VA services require minimum monthly hour commitments.
Recommended Reading: Proven Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Use Cases for Managed Virtual Assistant Services
Nothing is right for every business. Managed VA services work well for executives swamped with repetitive work and don't have enough time to focus on the company. The tasks VAs can take off your plate include:
- Calendar management and scheduling
- Travel planning and expense reporting
- CRM cleanup and maintenance
- Prospecting for leads
- Marketing campaigns
- Document preparation
- Back-office tasks (invoicing, data entry)
Managed VA services typically work on a monthly retainer where you pay for a certain number of hours per month. They are not ideal for occasional projects like a quarterly report or creative projects requiring fresh design, writing projects, or graphic design-intensive projects.
If you're considering hiring a virtual assistant, here are some questions to ask a service provider.
Want to learn more about what it's like to work with Prialto's managed virtual assistant service? Contact us today.