Outsourcing

7 Steps to Successful Outsourcing for Your Business

Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)

7 Steps to Successful Outsourcing for Your Business

7 Steps to Successful Outsourcing for Your Business

So you’ve decided to outsource some work to a third party, but how do you make sure you get the results you’re after? You need to find the perfect partner, someone who can follow your design but has the autonomy to work independently. How well they perform will have a direct effect on your business, so this is a decision that you need to get right.

If you’re new to the outsourcing approach then this is the article that you need. We’re going to go over everything you need to know to create an effective outsourcing strategy. We’ll talk about the steps involved in outsourcing and how you can make sure your partner delivers the goods.

We’ll go over things such as how to transfer key information to a third party and how to build new processes to help facilitate an outsourcing relationship. You’ll also learn how to handle ending a contract whether it comes to a natural stopping point or the work isn’t up to standard.

Finding the right partner

1. Finding the right partner

The most important step of an outsourcing approach is finding the right company or person to partner with. Someone without the necessary experience is going to hold your company back. You want to choose a partner who has proven experience working to deadlines, meeting and exceeding expectations, and providing good value for the work.

As part of your outsourcing implementation plan, you’ll need to decide the scope of the project you are handing off. This will help to inform what kind of company you partner with, whether it is something small like logo design or something grander like creating assets for a video game.

A logo can be handled by a single person or a design firm. There are plenty of websites that can help you find a freelancer including Upwork, Fiverr, and 99Designs. On these websites, you’ll be able to review someone’s portfolio and professional feedback before approaching someone.

Sometimes it makes financial sense to outsource entire departments. Small businesses may need an accountant but lack the resources to bring someone in full-time. A great option is to contract an outside firm that can handle this for you. In these instances, you want to look at firms with outsourcing experiences that can deliver great results at cheap rates.

Finalizing the deliverables

2. Finalizing the deliverables

Once you’ve found the right partner, you’ll need to decide on the deliverables before a contract can be drawn up and signed. An effective outsourcing strategy will include a detailed contract that leaves no room for error on what is expected. A key part of early conversations should be about locking down expectations and making sure everyone is on the same page.

Here is where an outsource implementation plan is going to make the biggest difference. It may seem like a lot of work to make but it’s useful to have this document for both parties to refer back to. Include details about the goals of the partnership and how your business will support the third party.

One key thing to do is create systems and processes that are uniform between both businesses. Using a project management tool like Teamly means everyone can follow the same tasking system and be able to communicate effectively between teams. Each deliverable and every step involved can be included in Kanban boards on Teamly for quick reference.

Lastly, a dry run at this stage is going to be beneficial for both your business and your outsourcing partner. Set aside a few hours where both teams can pretend it is the first day of work together. Go about the day as you would expect things to progress and make note of any inefficiencies. A rehearsal helps to ensure everything works smoothly and there are no roadblocks between the two companies.

3. Partner Relations

Once the deliverables have been agreed and the contract is signed you should appoint someone to be the contact person. By having a single point of contact between your business and the third-party vendor, any issues or questions can be addressed quickly and coherently. An effective outsourcing strategy will avoid emails to and from multiple people as this can slow down progress.

You’ll likely have set a timeframe for the deliverables in the contract and if your freelancer or agency doesn’t know who to contact they may not be able to keep to it. Treat this as a relationship instead of a transaction and nurture it as you would your own employees. You may elect yourself as the point person, or a trusted member of staff. The key is to select someone who can take ownership and seek out information on behalf of the partner company.

This will create a closer working relationship and will help to grow a long-lasting partnership between the two companies. If your project is large in scope it may be worth assigning a project manager or team that can facilitate relations with the third party. As long as you can avoid communication breakdowns, the project should run smoothly, on time, and on budget.

Knowledge transfer

4. Knowledge transfer

One of the key steps involved in outsourcing is the transfer of knowledge from your business to the partner company. They need to be trained in how your business operates and how to meet your expectations. Other companies may not use the same software, so it will be important to get them up to speed if they need to use in-house software such as your CRM.

Sharing your tech stack with a third party can ensure that you’re working in tandem with each other. This will also help your in-house team to assist the outsourced team where it is appropriate. They may already be using the same tech you use but if they don’t it’s worth getting everyone on the same software.

They may also need access to design documents and knowledge of company tone and attitude. Knowledge transfer is a collaborative process that can be shared through a series of informal and formal discussions. Early in the project, you should arrange a meeting to discuss the brand as well as the deliverables.

Consider if it is worth creating templates and best practices (such as naming conventions, support, and codifying) that can be shared with the outsourced vendor which they can share with their new hires. Following Agile methodology can help to facilitate knowledge transfer by breaking the project down into short 2 week sprints. There will be ample opportunities to share knowledge during meetings and roadblocks can be addressed before the next sprint.

Implement transition plan

5. Implement transition plan

Here is the part of your outsourcing implementation plan that covers the transition to the third-party vendor. This will be a highly collaborative process and should be led by the in-house project manager if one has been assigned. Involved in this process are the various internal stakeholders as well as the important people at the new company.

You should make sure that the dry run has been completed successfully, the tech stack has been agreed upon, and the transfer of knowledge has everyone on the same page.

Now you’ll need to decide on the timeline for the deliverables and each component of the project. Send over the important assets that the third party needs to complete their work. This could include login information for certain software, or shipping necessary hardware to their address.

Once everything is in place, it’s time to take your hands off the wheel and entrust the developer to deliver the goods. Any third-party vendor will want to retain their autonomy during this process. Micromanagement is likely to rub them the wrong way and if you are unable to let go, it may be better to do this in-house.

Let your point person be there to answer any questions but allow the vendor to work away on the deliverables. They will use your design document and best practices to ensure the work fits your brand identity.

6. Assessing the deliverables

Before you sign off on the deliverables you’ll want to ensure they meet your expectations. Depending on the type of work being done you should try to build revisions into the contracts. For example, if you are commissioning a logo design from a freelancer or agency, make sure to add one or two revision requests. This protects you if the initial design misses the mark.

Other types of contracts may stipulate work will continue until the final product is signed off on. The important thing is to ensure you’re not paying for work that you can’t use or limit the amount of money spent on goods you aren’t happy with.

In a perfect world, the end result will be ideal and the project can be signed off. At which point you can look at commissioning a new project or ending your relationship there, with both parties happy with the result.

Sometimes, however, there will be issues with quality or deadlines missed which can sour the relationship. At this point, you’ll need to decide whether to cut your losses and find a new vendor, bring development in-house, or swallow your pride and accept the project as-is. In order to make this decision, you’ll need to look at the costs, resources, and time available for the project.

Ending the contract

7. Ending the contract

Ending a contract with a third-party vendor can happen for a number of reasons and not all of them are within your control. The most obvious reason pertains to quality but sometimes you’ll need to end a contract early if there are financial issues. If you are hit by an economic downturn, one of the first things a company will do is look to end outsourcing to save money.

An exit plan is a great idea in these instances to ensure you can end the relationship on good terms. While it is impossible to plan for every natural or economic disaster that may come into play, you can plan ahead for changes in the market and budget constraints. The exit plan should contain the steps you’ll take if your partner fails to meet expectations or other factors that mean you need to terminate the account.

In the plan, you should cover the steps involved with bringing the project in-house or transitioning the assets from your partner to a new vendor. Consider how to facilitate these changes without running into interruptions in your day-to-day business.

Conclusion

An outsource implementation plan is crucial to start working with outside partners. You’ll need to know how to set deliverables and timeframes in order to work effectively together. When selecting a partner you need to pick someone with proven experience of working with an outsourced approach.

Allow them the autonomy to work on the project the way they see fit while adhering to your tech stack and brand identity. Share design documents and culture with them through formal and informal discussions. If you are unhappy with the work they have provided, look at implementing your exit plan and choose a new provider or look at bringing the work in-house.

Ultimately, outsourcing should save you time and money for projects you can’t work on in-house. Creating a good working relationship with other businesses will be beneficial for your company’s growth in the long term.

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