Stop paying more for less and start outsourcing!
A well-thought strategy can provide your company with a handful of benefits related to cost reduction and improved operations. So whether you are outsourcing for the first time or looking for a better way to manage your outside suppliers, the following 6 steps will minimize the stress and will definitely maximize your efficiency.
1- Clearly Define your Project, Internally.
Once you decide to outsource a specific task –example; a new brand identity for your company- it is essential that you do your homework first and breakdown your project into requirements and resources (you can always sit with your team and brainstorm).
What do you want to get?
State the deliverable you need.
Example: Logo design, business card design, letterhead design, etc.
When do you want to get it?
State your deadline (if you do not have a fixed date put down a period of time for completion)
Example: 1 month after I initiate the project , or I want to finalize everything by 28 September.
How much are you willing to pay for it?
State your budget (if you have no idea what the average price are you can at least have a price range of the minimum and maximum you can pay). You can also look up the prices in order to have a realistic view of the service you are asking for.
Example: I can pay between $1000 & $2000
What can you offer?
Identify the available resources for the expert to work around.
Example: it could be a desired color, an old logo perhaps, maybe a sketch or vision or even a your “about us” and mission statement!
At the end of the day, having only a small idea of what you need is the worst mistake you can do when outsourcing. Throwing the job at the expert with no details, no information or nothing to start with will not get you the results you expect. The more information you have the easier it is for you to choose freelancers and help them understand your project.
2- Set your Desired Outcome.
Setting desired outcomes means setting your objectives. For starters, measurable goals and KPIs provide you with a working framework for both you and the expert you choose to work with. Those same objectives also help you set the context in which you can evaluate whether or not the project was successful.
As a first step, your goals should be SMART:
- Specific: Be as specific as possible, to be able to understand your objective. Here you need to answer the 5 Ws: Who, What, Where, Why, and Which
- Measurable: Make sure your goal can be measured using percentages or numbers.
- Attainable or realistic: Ask yourself if the goal you have is possible to achieve viewing your current situation.
- Relevant: A relevant goal should be in line with your business objectives, vision, or values.
- Time-bound: Give your goal a deadline or timeframe.
Example: If you are going to outsource social media management, your goal can be: to increase page likes from 5000 to 7000 by end of September 2016
3- Know What to Expect.
In one of my previous blog articles “Why Businesses in the Region are failing at Outsourcing” I talked about how sometimes you expect so much it gets absurd.
We do not live in a Utopia where we can have fast services for free. The freelancers and experts who cater to our needs deserve some credit and should not be blamed for the outcomes when we fail to do our own homework (such as planning ahead of time, or actually knowing what the project is about). Below is the image that explains what you should and shouldn’t expect when you outsource.
4- Choose your Expert.
In many outsourcing platforms (such as upwork, people per hour, and so on) you can post the job you need to be done and the freelancers will start sending you proposals. The frustrating part here is that you will have to go through hundreds of applications and proposals and will end up feeling confused especially if you are outsourcing a skill you are not familiar with. However, choosing the right talent should depend on the following:
- Price vs. time delivery
- Past work/portfolio
- Client ratings
On the other hand, some outsourcing platforms can match your project requirements to the right expert (such as Feedeed, Toptal, and so on). All you need to do is request a service to get connected to the best-suited talent for your needs.
5- Communicate & Monitor Every Step of The Way.
Communication is extremely important especially when you hire an outside supplier. From the moment you start the project you are supposed to be very clear about your expectations and requirements.Below are some tips for a smooth process:
- Fix payment processes to clearly define project milestones or phases
- Always follow up on progress
- Give constructive feedback on drafts
- Avoid vague comments such as : “It doesn’t feel right, I don’t know why”
- Don’t disappear when the expert needs you for an answer or for approval
If done right, communication can help you achieve your goal without the hassle of going back and forth with the expert with no results.
6- Finalize & Evaluate.
Now that the work is done, you can sit with your team to evaluate and measure the overall performance. Here are some questions to look at when you are assessing the project:
- Did you meet the goals set at the beginning of the project?
- Was the process smooth and easy?
- What was the impact on the team, did they get to work more on their core functions?
- Did something bother you? What was it?
Remember to let your expert know your remarks, and if everything went well show gratitude!
When properly done, outsourcing can enable you to improve your business . You will eventually employ your resources more efficiently and move forward with your core functions.
Get access to the “Ultimate Outsourcing Cheat Sheet”, one sheet to summarize all you need to know about the art of outsourcing!