Save time and headspace:  Outsourcing tasks without uncertainty

Anna Sundukova

Goodpatch is a design consultancy that aims to prove the power of design and advises clients across industries on digital design and strategy. The company has helped many clients in a wide range of sectors, including retail, platforms, sustainability and social impact.

For this interview, we spoke with Anna Sundukova, senior design strategist at Goodpatch.

It doesn't matter whether I do them or someone else does them.

First, how did your team start using CASTER?

We are very interested in services like CASTER because we're a relatively small company. We're only about 20 people, consisting of mostly senior members, while we have limited junior-level members and interns. However, most of our junior sources often have responsible roles with clients, and they have many tasks of their own. Because we're a small team, [being] able to outsource some tasks our senior members take charge of to CASTER was attractive to us. 

In my role as a strategist, I do research, presentations, and a lot of work that ultimately has a very high cost per hour. Every hour I spend on Google costs the company a lot and the client a lot. There are a lot of tasks that it doesn't matter whether I do them or someone else does, because it is very routine work that doesn't necessarily require a specialist. 

We didn't necessarily want to hire people just to take that chunk of work off our shoulders, as it would be a massive commitment to putting people on the payroll and ensuring that they always have stuff to do. CASTER is handy in these situations because it fills in those gaps.

I remember your team started with our 15-hour trial package. Did you use all of those hours up only by outsourcing the tasks you had on hand?

No, I shared [the hours] with other team members. One of CASTER's main advantages is that we can share the service as a team. With the various tasks that CASTER could take care of, we could use our contracted hours efficiently, as it wasn't just limited to me. That was hugely beneficial.

My colleagues from the back office also benefit from using CASTER, as they have a lot of paperwork or digital paperwork to go through. The senior management also uses the services for some basic research.

That's an intelligent way to use our service. Could you share more about how you and your colleagues benefit from using CASTER?

It didn't take long to understand how to integrate CASTER into our workflow and transform the working style from "do it myself" to "okay, I don't have to do everything by myself."

Our team found more and more tasks that could be outsourced over time, resulting in three different people using the services. As we integrate that into our work life constantly, we get into that habit of [asking], "Okay, how much can I not do myself?" Whenever I think, "Anyone can do this," I know that's something I can outsource. 

For example, when preparing for a workshop, I need to manually type up all the posts, which anyone can do. Besides, moving information from one format to another, conducting basic research that doesn't require special knowledge, and comparing working tools.

CASTER helped me save not only actual time but also my headspace.

Do you primarily outsource routine tasks or one-time tasks to CASTER?

In my line of work in a strategic planning role, nothing happens routinely. It's all different. The only task that is in common is research. Most of my colleagues say that their work isn't routine, as well. Our virtual assistant can work on one-time tasks without a problem.

In your overall experience using CASTER, what are the most impressive things to you?

Our virtual assistant…was very, very fast and very reliable. When there's a time estimate, [the work] usually comes before the deadline that was estimated or right on time.

Of course, you need a little time planning to ensure you can get the outcome on schedule, but it would be the same as doing the tasks yourself. The estimated working hours CASTER gave me would be the same as that I would count for myself, which convinced me more.

Planning for all deliverables may take a little time, but it's worth it because you can work on something else with the time you save, not just by [gaining] time but also by removing some noise from [your] work. CASTER removed all these noisy, time-consuming tasks that I needed to switch my brain for.

When you need to focus on those noisy tasks, even though it doesn't bring you any new insight and information, you just have to do it. Thus, CASTER has contributed to saving actual time and headspace, allowing you to focus on spending more time on more value-added tasks.

How do you feel about working with our front assistant, who is in charge of aligning your tasks?

Our dedicated front assistant was always on point, helpful and welcoming. I enjoyed working with her. This person's goal is to provide the best service and help you out; it has this interesting flavor of being very service oriented.

When you work in teams and organizations, you usually don't get that even if you have a more junior person working under you, because your junior colleagues aren't there to serve you—they're not there to provide service for you, but to collaborate.

It's an interesting kind of effect when you actually buy a service. This person's natural motivation and goal is to provide outstanding service, and that's sometimes a very different dynamic compared to you working with your team members.

Although you can only outsource specific topics that don't require this critical sort of knowledge or critical understanding of your own business, it has significant upsides that you don't necessarily get when you work with your colleagues, because the relationship dynamic is very different.
There is no surprise or uncertainty when working with CASTER.

Outsourcing usually comes with some uncertainty. Did you feel that when you worked with our virtual assistant for the first time?

When I first sent our assistant a request, she returned to me with the draft before going further to work on the tasks. This first draft is extremely useful because you can add comments from there and imagine what the final output may be like. There are no surprises. You are confident and know that assistants commit to doing your task this way. 

The final work is thorough and solid, and it turned out to be what I agreed with in this first draft. You can expect the comments you add [will] become exactly what you get in the end.

Who else would you recommend use CASTER?

Freelancers with a lot of client work or smaller companies like us will find the service highly beneficial. When the team is small, you still need to do all the same things that all businesses have to do, [but] with fewer people.

Having a virtual assistant that could take over some things from your to-do list will help the team have enough time to focus on strategic planning. For example, if I ever go freelance again, as I establish my client base, I will benefit a lot from thinking about working with CASTER again because I could optimize the way I spend my time.