Successful outsourcing only happens when you do your work ahead of time. Here are tips that can get you started in adding outsourced workers to your practice.
Understand your basic objective in outsourcing
If you haven't watched Simon Sinek's TEDx Talk "Start with why - How great leaders inspire action", please add it to your to-do list for today. Why? Because starting with why is critical to the success of every project.
It is not enough to outsource simply because it can help you save costs. It is true that outsourcing is cost-effective but you have to know the exact reason why you require the services of an outsourcing company.
While a lot has been said (and heard) about outsourcing and its benefits, it can become a bit of a matchmaking process for practices to find an outsourcing vendor who meets the requirements of their business. So, you need to make sure that the company you hire thoroughly understands your objectives.
Identify tasks to be outsourced
One of the early steps you should take is to identify the types of tasks that you want outsourced. Here are some general buckets of activities to consider.
- Mundane daily tasks that take maximum amounts of time
- Necessary tasks that prevent you from working on your business
- Tasks that you do not enjoy doing
In general, you should look to outsourcing to fill in the gaps in your business that allow you to focus on areas that require your direct attention.
Vet and obtain quotes from different vendors
Finding a good vendor can be a challenging task as there is a host of companies that offer these services and you need to find one that can handle the tasks that you want. So it is important that, prior to vetting potential companies, you create a list of must-have and want-to-have options as well as a robust list of questions that you will ask each of them.
If you want to get the best services, you have to talk to a few outsourcing companies to find out the service that they offer and whether they match with your requirements. In the article "Considerations When Choosing an Outsourcing Company", we talked about eight different factors for you to consider.
Request referrals and recommendations
By reaching out to your peers, you may find some who already outsource some of their functions. Ask them specific questions about their experience. In addition, ask the vendors you are vetting to speak to customers currently using their service. Here are some sample questions:
- What is the top strength of this vendor?
- What is the biggest weakness of this vendor?
- What questions would you have asked the vendor at the beginning that you didn't think to ask?
- What do you wish you could do over again at the beginning of working with this vendor?
When vetting outsourcing companies, do not hesitate to ask questions around any aspect of outsourcing or specific queries about the project that you intend to assign to the company. Any reluctance to answer questions during the vetting phase may indicate that the vendor will not be transparent once they begin to work with you.
One specific area to be clear around is working hours and timelines for completion, particularly if you hire a vendor in a different time zone. Make sure to ask for specifics around how the vendor will manage completion of work to meet your project timelines to make sure that projects are completed ahead of time.
Although reliable service providers offer a time frame for delivering the services, there is no dearth of companies that fail to meet the expectations of their clients. In your vetting process, steer clear of any company that is less than fully forthcoming around the timing of work.
Make an informed decision
The decision of which vendor to hire should not be based solely on the cost-effectiveness of the services. When you hire an outsourcing company, it is necessary to find out whether you can get a balance of quality work and affordable services. In short, you have to find out whether the services that you intend to hire will offer value to your business and provide you with an opportunity to outbid your competitors.
For this, you have to stay away from those service providers that quote extremely low prices which either implies that the company has not understood the nature of the work that they need to deliver or do not have the know how to start processing the ideas.
Review the outsourcing contract
As soon as you get a copy of the outsourcing contract, you will need to read in between the lines to try to get a grasp of the points that are mentioned therein. Unless you read the agreement carefully, you might just miss out on some of the most important points that are essential before you get started with outsourcing services.
However, the best option is get the review done by a legal expert. A professional legal counsel has the ability to locate the discrepancies in the terms of agreement and can offer you advice, avoiding landing in a pile of mess later.
Create deadlines around completion of work
When it comes to outsourcing, you have to create and communicate clear deadlines for completion of projects. You will need to provide realistic deadlines for work that take into consideration time zone differences while also meeting the needs of your practice.
Communicate and review work
Many of you might just think that hiring an outsourcing company can produce miraculous results. There will be great results, but you will need to continue to invest time in projects or tasks you send to outsourced workers. You will need to communicate information each time you send an activity or task over, you may need to answer questions when the work is being done and then you will need to review the work when it is completed.
As you build a relationship with the outsourced team, the frequency of the communications may decrease. However, recognize that ongoing communicating with the outsourcing company is essential.
Start with a small project or two. This will allow you to find out more about what to expect when you begin sending more work to the outsourced team, including their ability to meet your stated deadlines.
For the first few months, schedule regular meetings with the company to review assigned and completed work. Through frequent, open conversations at the beginning, you and the outsourced team will become accustomed to each other more quickly.
I may be biased, but I believe that accounting and bookkeeping practices should at least consider outsourcing. Want to chat about it? Please send me an email!
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