Remote administrative assistants—or virtual assistants (VAs)--come in two broad categories: managed and unmanaged services. The assistants are hired, trained, overseen, and paid by the service provider with a managed service. There are multiple unmanaged VA models available, from hiring a freelancer 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. Let's look at the advantages of a managed service (full disclosure: this is the virtual assistant service offered by Prialto).
1. You don't have to manage another employee. This can be big because executives turn to virtual 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 required.
2. A team behind the team. With a managed service, 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
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. If you would like to learn more about what it's like to work with Prialto's managed service, contact us or check out our guide.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.