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Outsourcing Synonym: Alternatives and Their Impact in Business Practices

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What is the right outsourcing synonym to use? Do I need to know specific use cases for each one? The short answer is yes.

Below were going to explore the nuances of these word variations. We’ll define, compare, contrast, and give you a look into word usage in different contexts. You may find some to be not as easily interchangeable as they appear.

Outsourcing Synonym Comprehensive List

Contracting and Contracting out

Contracting refers to the act of hiring independent contractors to perform a task for a specific time period. Instead of contracting someone within your company, you “contract out” This involves making a formal agreement with an outside party.

Contractors and freelancers are similar in that they are not salaried, but work on a per-hour or per-project basis. Neither are tied to companies or locations. While contractors typically work under agencies, they can also manage their own companies. The type of work in contracting is usually more long-term. 


Sometimes, more complex projects require someone with specialized skills. In this case, a contractor may need to hire an individual with more granular expertise in that particular area. As the name suggests, a subcontractor is typically someone under the management of a contractor. However, you can also hire them directly. 

Farming or Farming out

This term has its roots (pun intended) in the early practice of leasing land out to another for agriculture. In fact, the word farm originally comes from “ferme” meaning “to rent”. This handing over of land for payment inspired its usage as an outsourcing synonym. 

The terms can be used to refer to two different things. When referring to a person, it means to send someone to work for another. When referring to work, it means to assign tasks to an outside individual. 


This is not to be confused with the pay model. Commissioning in outsourcing is a term used when sending or putting someone in charge of accomplishing a task. The term is most commonly used when instructing or prescribing someone to design or write something out. You may be familiar with its use in the creative space. This is where people commission artists to create a piece in their style. People can also commission building designs or written works like articles, stories, and even musical pieces. 

Four men laughing while freelancing together outsourcing synonym


You usually see this term used in an internal context. This is where someone reassigns tasks to workers in an organization. However, you might use this term within the context of a close partnership with outsourcing entities. Delegating responsibility also implies a level of trust in that other party. Trust is crucial when they’re handling part of your business for you. A good outsourcing partner is one you can rely on to deliver results. You want to have evidence of their competence and confirm other ethical considerations before hiring them.


This variation sheds an interesting light on the outsourcing process. When you outsource, you are actually moving around monetary and human resources. Say you had an internal team handling a particular aspect of business. Then, you decide to hand it off to a third party. You poured resources and allocated team members to that department. These are then redistributed into other business areas. Sometimes, though, the redistribution looks more like a hybrid team. Other times, people from other positions will assist with the outsourcing partnership as project managers. 


This is one of the more formal-sounding synonyms. While feeling more corporate, it simply means to seek external expert help for a task or entire process. Internalization definitely has its place in business. But externalization helps you leverage top talent to achieve your goals more effectively and efficiently.  

Special mention: Onshore, Nearshore, and Offshore Outsourcing

While these are closer to categories than straight synonyms, they are still worth putting here. Onshore outsourcing refers to outsourcing within the same country. Nearshore outsourcing involves partnering with third-party companies that are geographically close to the country in which you operate. Offshore outsourcing refers to handing over certain operations to an international service provider. 

Outsourcing Synonym Contextual Usage

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How synonyms can be used in different business contexts

We already talked about how the word “commission” is kind of a loaded term. More often than not, you will hear it used in a creative context. Companies hire these workers for one of two reasons, usually. First, because the executives approve of their methods. Second, because they prefer the artist’s style. This style creates an expectation of a unique execution. 

With contracting and subcontracting, they refer to a certain level of specificity. For instance, you may contract people to help you improve marketing and advertising. This is a broad department with several moving parts. There’s the creative aspect of advertising that involves graphics, video, and copywriting. There’s those responsible for lead generation and generating web traffic. 

A contractor might hire subcontractors for their specialized knowledge and skillsets in these areas. An example would be subcontracting a branding manager to ensure ads consistently represent a company well. They might also hire people skilled in SEO and PPC for that search engine visibility. 

Comparing subtle differences in meaning

Where’s the value in learning outsourcing synonyms if they basically mean the same thing anyway? While the differences may be subtle, nuances in usage lend a clearer understanding of when and how to apply these terms. 

Let’s look at externalization and commissioning as an example. We believe that companies use externalize more fittingly to describe business processes and departments. (Ex. externalized financial management, externalized customer relationship management, etc.)

On the other hand, we use commissions to typically refer to the tangible created product. For instance, you wouldn’t “externalize” blog posts. It would be more appropriate to say that you “externalize your content creation” and “commission” blog posts. To simplify, externalization refers to more of a “big picture” process, and commissioning refers to specific jobs within that process. 

We also think that paying attention to the implied tone of the words you use is important. Externalization and contracting tend to sound more professional, even legal. Alternatively, terms like redistribution and delegation almost have an air of collaboration and diplomacy.

Outsourcing in the Global Economy

A coffee cup next to a laptop showing a video call with multiple participants.Synonyms reflect different aspects of global outsourcing trends. Words continue to evolve in meaning alongside global advancements. On the surface, we can already see that the existence of several synonyms points to the popularity and impacts of outsourcing internationally. 

These different terms that we use impact various industries, too. With the rapid development of technology, the categories of tasks you can outsource have also grown. With it, the cost advantage of choosing external solutions is also more apparent. 

Some industries impacted by the outsourcing boom include:

  • Creatives –  You have access to a wider talent pool of people to take care of graphics, content creation, editing and more. You can hire people per project, significantly cutting down on costs related to maintaining in-house staff. 
  • Finance – Most businesses turn to outsourced accounting and bookkeeping. It saves many hours and headaches related to tax season.  
  • Manufacturing and Production – A lot of companies, even the big ones, don’t make their products in house. It’s much more cost-effective to hire third-party manufacturers with their manpower and special equipment. 
  • Legal – Did you know you can outsource legal tasks? In fact, some legal firms tend to contract out administrative duties. These can include research, contract drafting, and transcription.  
  • Marketing and advertising – You don’t need an in-house staff for online marketing. Even in traditional marketing, you can outsource a lot of the content. We see many companies effectively outsource videos, poster and billboard graphics, ad copy, and so much more.

Challenges, Common issues, and Solutions in Outsourcing

Communication is a major consideration. Correspondence and scheduling with a remote team can be challenging. Aside from potential technological difficulties, you also have to consider time zones and when people will see your messages. If there’s an issue while working on a project, it might take hours before the other party responds.

You can mitigate communication challenges by setting up working times. Go through the main communication channels as soon as possible, too. Proper remote onboarding also gives you the chance to set SOPs in the event something goes wrong.

Still, time zones can become a big enough factor to affect productivity. If they do, consider how you can leverage the time difference to your advantage. Otherwise, consider hiring in a closer time zone or emphasizing the required work schedule more. 

Data security is another potential issue. You will always face some level of risk when information leaves the four walls of your business. Mitigating data breach risks boils down to three main things:

  • Transferring and storing data using secure apps and software
  • Partnering with companies who have verifiable data security guarantees
  • Having the company or individual sign data security contracts 

Total lack of control is a challenge you want to avoid. Whether it’s management or quality assurance, outsourcing takes some control of the reins from you. It’s important to partner with someone you can trust to handle things with minimal supervision. Assigning project managers can also help. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It Important to Understand Different Synonyms for Outsourcing in Business?

Understanding context and word usage helps you with clarity. Clarity in communication is key, especially in business partnerships. 

Can Different Synonyms for Outsourcing Imply Different Levels of Responsibility and Control?

Yes, they certainly can. A good example is contracting and subcontracting. You might contract someone to handle your web development. That contractor may then hire and manage subcontractors to take care of separate sections of the project.

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There’s a lot you can gain from learning about outsourcing synonyms. You can learn a little about outsourcing history and how culture informs language and vice versa. Other definitions give us a glimpse into the outsourcing process. You can also learn more about management structure and the contexts in which you use certain words. Overall, they give you a better idea of the global influence of outsourcing. This, in turn, help you better communicate with your third-party business partners.