Pro Drive recently undertook an exercise to look for a part time virtual assistant to help out our team with some administration work to free up more time to focus on working with our clients.

However, what we expected to be a straightforward process became more challenging once we took into consideration our data security requirements. In much the same way as our clients in the Accountancy, Legal and Financial Services sectors, we hold a great deal of confidential information.  This meant that not only did we need to be selective on our choice of partner to work with, but we also had to give careful consideration to how they access our information.

Chief amongst the challenges was our Cyber Essentials accreditation which required anyone accessing our systems to have the same or equivalent.  This immediately ruled out umbrella companies that outsource to individual virtual assistants and micro companies that haven’t yet applied for Cyber Essentials.

Eventually we found a partner through our wider business network that is Cyber Essentials certified, so we felt it might be beneficial to share the key points we considered for other businesses going through a similar process.


If you have IASME Cyber Essentials or IASME Cyber Assurance, you will need to verify your suppliers. We make sure that all our suppliers have an equivalent level of cyber security certifications that we do. This was a big deal for us and narrowed the field of potential companies down considerably.

IT systems access

How will your assistant get access to your IT systems and your data? Usually, they are helping the senior people in a company and may require access to the same systems and data as those senior people. Granting this access to an external company means you need to think carefully about how you do this. At Pro Drive we have decided to make use of the many tools Microsoft provide for working with external companies.


Being an IT support provider, we are a massively process driven company – it’s what we do (and it’s in the name if you didn’t know that!) so this part was easy for us. We have all our core processes documented and having that in place made the handover very straightforward. It also helps having a well setup database of your documentation that can be shared with external companies.  Microsoft SharePoint is ideal for this.

Culture and fit

You will need to have a mutually productive ongoing relationship with this company or person, so do they match up to your own values? If you haven’t been through the process of realising what your values are we highly recommend doing so, and then go on to employ people based on those values. Pro Drive have a very clear set of values and so it was important to find someone to work with who shared them.


In short this comes down to UK versus overseas. There are many things to consider here, from time zones to language to GDPR. Cost can also come into it as overseas can be cheaper than UK based (we live in an expensive country). By its very nature a virtual assistant doesn’t need to be based anywhere near you but have a think about what their location means to you. Will it enhance or compromise their effectiveness? Will it even matter to you? Going back to data security – will you find someone overseas with the right requirements?

The scope

We spent some time documenting what is that we do that we wanted help with, what could we handover in order to free up our time so we could best focus on growing this company. I came to realise that as well as working out the things we were doing that we wanted to handover, we needed to think about the things that we weren’t doing but should be doing. This is the missing area that’s hard to see at first.

How can Pro Drive help?

If you’ve been considering outsourcing any function, Pro Drive can help by making sure that your data is structured and configured in such a way that makes outsourcing in a secure manner possible.

We recommend using Azure Virtual Desktop or Microsoft Windows 365 Cloud PC’s to be used for remote access and can audit your existing setup and design a solution for you that facilitates your outsourcing requirement. We can make sure that your own IT infrastructure and processes are fit for purpose through the IASME Cyber Essentials and Assurance schemes.

If you are considering outsourcing any business functions and are not 100% certain you have correctly considered the implications around security and access of your data, get in touch on 0330 124 3599 and we can help you identify where any risks might be.