How To Outsource Effectively

Outsourcing1Outsourcing can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. It can mean farming out the grunt work you don’t want to do (or have time to do) that keeps your business ticking over. It could mean letting someone else look after things that you don’t have the skills for, but need looking after – like your IT department. Or it could mean hiring in a firm to help you with a project, or undertake one for or on behalf of your company. Whatever outsourcing means to you, there is one concern that is universal among anyone who finds themselves needing to outsource. How can I outsource part of my business without losing control of it?

For smaller or medium sized business this is especially true. They are usually owner managed, and you have put your blood sweat and tears (with a healthy chunk of money, time and risk) into making your business what it is, and you are naturally going to be very reluctant to let that go. It’s like your baby, and you don’t want anyone else to hold it and risk dropping it.  But sometimes outsourcing is simply essential – you can’t do everything yourself after all. So how do you find and use those skills you need without it all spiralling out of control?

1. Be a part of the process

This goes from the very start of the project all the way through to completion day. To be able to maintain the level of control you want in the process, you need to be a part of it. Understand that outsourcing isn’t just a way of palming off the difficult bits to someone else and walking away. It’s a wonderful way of shifting some of that extra workload from your plate onto someone else’s, but to avoid the disconnect you need to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the project, and make sure they are carried out. Even if you only play a minor role, keep yourself involved.

2. Be accessible

This means no turning off your phone or avoiding calls from those pesky IT guys. When they can’t reach you, your subcontractors may be forced to make decisions without your knowledge, and things can start to break down here. You can avoid this by giving a very clear and concise brief, but even that can go wrong sometimes. The best way to avoid it altogether is to be accessible to your subcontractors at all times.

3. Choose your contractors carefully

When looking to work with sub-contractors the first and most important thing you have complete control over is who you work with. Choose those people very carefully. Do your due diligence, do background checks and as many interviews as you need until you feel confident that you are hiring the right person. make sure they are on your wavelength and understand exactly what you need.

4. Check in on a regular basis

Again, this is being a part of the process. Check in on your sub-contractors regularly and see what the state of affairs is. Warning though, don’t try and micro-manage. This will only end in tears. Instead, establish regular times with your contractor for you to check in and see how things are progressing. This will also give you the opportunity to address any problems before they escalate.

5. Know when to let go

This is one of the hardest things you have to learn to do. The business might be your baby, but you have to learn when to let go of control. It will only be a little bit, but it will be hard to adjust to at first. You’ll find yourself wanting to pick up the phone and check in every half an hour. Don’t! Learn when you need to trust the people you hired to do the job and let go – your project will be better for it

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