When you are the only one working in your business and wearing so many hats, it can be hard to give each area of your business the attention it needs to grow effectively.
If we are serious about growing our business though, we need to look for outside help, whether it is outsourcing another business, a virtual assistant or securing a freelancer through sites like Guru, Elance Online, Freelancer or oDesk.
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But how do you find skilled professionals that will produce quality work, in the timeframe you need – without it costing you a fortune in the process?
Here are nine tips to ensure outsourcing success:
1. Clearly define your goals and objectives
Like any business activity, in order for it to have the best chance of success you need to first establish your goals, objectives and determine how you will measure the effectiveness of your outsourced project.
Knowing what you want to achieve will help you to find the best person for the task, clearly articulate what you want from them and then later evaluate whether they were in fact the right person.
2. Set clear project outlines and deadlines
To ensure your outsourced project is done to your satisfaction make sure you give clear project descriptions, the more clearly it is defined the greater chance of success.
The same goes with deadlines. Make sure you state exactly when you need it by (always allow extra time before your deadline in case you need to oversee changes) and the maximum time you would like them to spend on it if you are paying by the hour.
3. Don’t outsource purely on price
As tempting as it is, never select your outsourced team on price alone, choose them based on their skills, abilities, past results and the value they will provide you with.
While going for the cheapest person can be appealing, it is important to remember that if they are less experienced they may take more time or not do the job as well, resulting in more changes or you having to fix it yourself, which can work out more expensive in the long run.
4. Value specialist knowledge over general knowledge
Instead of looking for one person with general knowledge to manage multiple areas of your business, look at bringing on a couple of key specialists to grow each area more effectively. Leverage the key strengths of others to ensure your business grows more effectively and efficiently.
5. Review work samples and client feedback
It’s important to view the work experience, references and portfolios of the people you are considering outsourcing to, to ensure their quality of work meets your standards – before you bring them on board.
If they appear on paper to be everything you need, though you are still unsure, see if you can talk to one of their clients (be prepared for privacy reasons or language barriers that this may not be possible) and get them to do a test project, a small project that is not important yet will test their skills.
6. Test their communication and interpersonal skills
Communication is vital for any working business relationship so it is important to test how well they communicate with you.
You need to know how easy it is to contact them, how quickly they respond to your requests, how much they know about the industry and project you are wanting them to work on and, of course, how good their written and verbal English skills are in the case of international outsourcing.
7. Negotiate the ownership of work up front
Always establish up front who will own the work product and copyright at the end of the project. For most projects you will find that copyright will transfer to you upon payment. However, there can be some situations that are a little trickier.
A good example of this is when you are outsourcing someone to create a new product or service that you will be on-selling indefinitely. This is a very different to them creating work for you to use personally or for one of your clients, as a lot of your business profits may come from the work they are developing.
This is also likely to impact the cost of the project. So to prevent complications, legal ramifications and additional costs that were unaccounted for, make sure they know the full scope of the project and how you intend to use it.
8. Get it in writing
To protect yourself it is important to get everything in writing. All project details, key deliverables, deadlines and the quoted price so everyone is on the same page. If the project boundaries do change, ensure your work agreement is updated and re-signed. This step keeps everything clean and expectations clear for both parties.
9. Set times to discuss the project
If you are outsourcing work to people in different time zones, you won’t always have the luxury of picking up the phone whenever you feel like it to ask and answer questions or check the progress of your project. For this reason, it is important to work out certain times of the day or week where you can both contact each other if need be.
As one person you can only achieve so much, but by outsourcing and following these steps you will end up having more time, less stress and experience faster growth. Do you have any tips for ensuring outsourcing success?