If you’re considering outsourcing – or you’ve already started, and it’s not going as well as you’d hoped – then take the time to check out our five top outsourcing fails to ensure you won’t fall foul of them in future.
Outsourcing the wrong tasks
Outsourcing is great for those tasks that:
require expertise you don’t have
take you longer to complete than they would someone who performs them every day
need keeping on top of, but aren’t worth employing someone for because they’re quick to complete and/or irregular
take up your time when they could be done more cheaply by someone else, freeing you up to wield your expertise and grow your business.
If the task you’ve outsourced doesn’t fail into one of these categories, you may find yourself paying someone a high price for something you could fit into your own schedule or employ an entry-level worker or expert recruit to perform. Think carefully about what you’re outsourcing and why.
Picking the wrong person (or people) for the job
The person or company you outsource your work to must have the same high standards as you do. They must be capable and experienced – not just in their area, but in the precise kind of task you want them to work on. They need to be reliable, willing to communicate, confident enough to ask questions to ensure they deliver what you require and willing to accept feedback and adapt their work accordingly. If they can make their own perceptive and timely suggestions for improvements, so much the better!
You’re not likely to find this person if you go for the nephew of that woman you bump into regularly when you buy your newspaper – unless he comes with testimonials, recommendations and a portfolio of work, at least some of which is similar to the work you want him to do for you.
The best way to find this kind of superstar is to ensure you seek out people who can show you this kind of proof of their reliability and expertise. An agency or freelance marketplace can make this easier, because they should perform some of these checks for you.
An agency will look at CVs and potentially interview candidates, while any online freelance marketplace worth its salt will have a grading and review system, plus the option of uploading a portfolio (although be aware that due to the copyright rules imposed by some websites, some freelancers may prefer not to upload their portfolio – and that some clients don’t allow freelancers to use work they’ve done for them a samples).
Failing to Set Clear Expectations
Making sure you’re clear about exactly what you want is vital; the more detailed the brief or service agreement, the better. What, when, how, who, why and where all need to be covered. Ensure there’s a contract in place that outlines both your responsibilities and that of the company or freelancer you’re outsourcing to.
This means that if and when things go wrong, you can easily refer them to the relevant part of your contract.
If you’ve outsourced a long-term project, milestones and section deadlines are a good way to ensure the work is always on track.
Failing to communicate effectively
Encourage communication and set regular times for check-ins and progress reports. Jot down anything you want to say or ask, and if possible – particularly at the beginning of your working relationship – have a face-to-face discussion. Instant messaging, texting and emails are all very quick and convenient ways to communicate, but they’re not always the best way to get your point across – and there’s a constant danger of misinterpretation.
We’ve all gone on those courses where the trainer proves how much of our communication (particularly its subtler nuances) is done through tone of voice, facial expression and body language. Before you hit send on any written communications, give it a second look; a sentence that was full of jokey, well-meant sarcasm in your head may seem like a demeaning put-down in an email, so beware.
When possible, make time for a quick phone call at the very least; you may not have the advantage of body language signals, but at least you’ll catch the tone of voice.
If you can avoid these outsourcing fails, this way of working can be a real boon for your business and help to boost its growth, so don’t be scared of outsourcing; it could be the best thing you ever did!
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