Too much to do, not enough time… everyone feels it! Especially business owners. Reality is, none of us are fab at everything – we all have our zone of genius. There are some things that are just best left to others… You might find at some point, it’s useful to outsource some of your to-do list!
But buyer beware – outsourcing is not for the faint hearted… In this hack we’ll share our super check list of things to keep your outsource provider accountable. Tops.
What to look for? The magical 3.
History repeats! Make sure they can send you positive examples of work they have done before. Request results. Wherever possible, get quantifiable numbers!
What do their current or previous clients tell you? Go beyond testimonials, to actual clients you can call. If you get those names – give them a buzz! We had a case recently where we called a potential provider’s customer, who gave us some feedback that made us second guess if they were the right fit. Disaster. Averted. Take the time to call!
The big one! Always the key challenge when people use outside providers.
If you have someone local, it’s easier, but you need to hand over a bit more moola.
9/10 it is worth paying extra to get super service and reduce the stress factor.
Afterall, the point of outsourcing is to claw back time and cut-out stress. If you fancy taking on someone based overseas, be mindful of time zones and availability. In some cases, due to differences in time zones, you’ll need to consider how you keep the work flowing – their day might be your sleep time! Allow extra time for this.
Ok you’ve given them the green light – How do you ensure super-charged results?
Take 2 minutes to check these 5 things are locked in!
Test them first: If you can, find a small job to let them have a crack at! If you find the experience spot on, you can open them up to a larger project. Lower your risk by starting small.
Briefs Rule: Simply put, bad briefs guarantee bad outcomes. The less involved you want to be, the more specific you need to be. Let them know the KPIs and (ideally) measurable outcomes.
Set clear expectations from the start. Have them give you feedback on these, before they take on the job. Expectations need to include timeframes and milestones along the way, timeframes for responding to questions and how you need them to communicate issues, delays and questions from them. Set out from the start their hours and days of work. Simple right?
The more transparent both sides are, the better and the more likely you will avoid a train-wreck! Briefs are a fab way for you to think through what you really want and how much the activity is worth investing in. At the end of the day, it starts with you. How well your expectations are communicated and understood.
Budget: Be.Careful. Agree it all up-front. If an outside provider is pitching for a job, paid on an hourly rate, agree first-up those hours. Avoid project creep by having a super-tight arrangement. And it’s always a good rule of thumb to put aside a little spare moola, in the budget, for your own sanity. There’s always a chance, things you may not have anticipated come up and it helps to have some funds stashed away. Alternatively, if it is a project fee, ensure all output is itemised so there are no hidden costs rearing their ugly head, once you’re in the deep-end of the project.
Communication: Agree the process up front. It can be helpful to use systems like Basecamp and other online tools, as a forum for coms. Agree how often you need to be updated, how close to the details you want to be and what you need to approve along the way. You might want to set up weekly check ins, or just receive a written report. Either way, discuss what works for you both. They may have a recommended approach for dealing with clients too. Check it out!
The End: Agree what happens at the end of the project. A good outsourced provider will be driven to do well for you, knowing that word of mouth is worth gold in any service industry. They’ll want a review/testimonial. Agree what happens if things don’t work out. This should be part of your contract with them. Job done.
Stick to your zone of genius and get better at outsourcing. It frees you up to do the things that you excel at and ultimately become a much more efficient operation, saving you long term. Happy outsourcing