While outsourcing is a cost effective method for hiring services and skills on demand, you don’t have to go about it without a plan. If you do, you will waste a lot of time and money learning it the hard way. Heed the following best practices for outsourcing and you will do fine.
- Clearly define the work involved:
Try your best to clearly explain the work involved. Get on Skype or do web conferencing to ensure your contractor understands what you expect of him. Then ask the contractor to write in his words what he thinks the project is. Clarity is essential to getting started on the right foot and complete a project on time and within budget.
If you are a self employed person or small business and like to work with other self employed freelancers, then don’t seek larger outsourcing partners. Just because a company is offshore and charges a lower rate does not mean it’s a small outfit. Outsources can be quite sizeable. Go with somebody you can work with. If you like a more structured corporate type of setup, then seek them out.
- Long Term or Short Term:
If you are looking for someone with whom you can work long time, take the same approach as you would when you are hiring a full time employee. Do thorough due diligence, check references and credentials and then move forward.
- Test Employees:
Give the prospective contractors small assignments and see how they do. Give very clear and specific instructions and go over them with the contractors. Then assign them the task to be completed within a specified time. Compare the end results within the allotted time frame and see how they did. Cull the non-performers and keep the good ones.We did a similar test for data entry. We needed one person but we hired three on a short term basis. Gave them instructions on how to do it. The first hour we monitored their work and gave them feedback. We helped them correct their mistakes and when we were sure they understood the job at hand, we let them be. All three started off well but by the 3rd and 4th day we started seeing two of them slacking off. We inquired if they needed any help but they said they were fine. After five days, it was clear those two were just trying to fill in the hours without delivering an honest days work. We cut them and kept the good one. In fact we gave the good worker a bonus.
- Reward contractors:
Treat contractors just like you would your own employees. If they do good, reward them. You can reward them in cash or paid holidays or send them a gift. Remember, contractors are human and they respond to both criticism and praise just like your regular employees.
- Cut your losses quickly:
Despite your best efforts, things may not turn out the way you want. If you think you have made the wrong hire, let the contractor know and sever your ties quickly. It will be best for the both of you.
- Don’t try to squeeze the contractor too much:
If you are really obsessed with lower cost and try to wrangle the last penny out of your outsourcing partners, you will end up with less than desirable results. You will force your partner to cut corners and that in the long run does you no good. Yes cost savings are an inherent part of outsourcing but don’t overdo it
- Exchange employees:
If you are big enough to handle it, have one of your employees stationed with the outsourcer and one of the outsourcers employees stationed in your office. Consider them liaison officers. Both parties end up having a better understanding of each other’s cultures and expectations and together they can iron out a lot of wrinkles.