Outsourcing Success Tips

February 21st, 2012

by Janet Attard

Outsourcing offers many benefits to small businesses. Perhaps the most important one is that it lets the small businesses  focus on their core capabilities and get other tasks done on an as-needed basis without adding permanent fixed expenses.  But like so many other “solutions” to small business problems, the results of outsourcing don’t always meet small business owners’ expectations.  Missed deadlines, service providers that stop answering phones, work or finished products that don’t meet expectations are just a few of the problems small business owners can encounter when they outsource work to independent contractors or other small companies.

How can you minimize these problems so your small company can get better results when you outsource work?  Here are four things you can do to make outsourcing work for you.

Identify which tasks are appropriate to outsource. Make a list of tasks that are routinely performed by you and your employees. (If you have a number of employees, assign one of them to compile the list.) Review the list to see which activities might be outsourced. Tasks that make good candidates for outsourcing include activities you or your key personnel are doing that are routine and repetitive and taking time away from more important work and tasks that you and your staff don’t really have the expertise to do, but aren’t needed on a regular basis.
Systematize repetitive tasks.  To get good results when a repetitive task is outsourced, you need to be able to provide the contractor with details about how the work should be done.  Take the time to write down the steps you take to complete the work you want done, including enough detail about the steps that need to be completed, methods to be used, recordkeeping that needs to be done, etc. so that a contractor can perform the work the way it would be done in your company.
Research needs for projects that are beyond your area of expertise before you outsource the work. You won’t be able to choose the right contractor for a job and the contractor won’t be able to meet your expectations if your expectations aren’t reasonable and clear up front. What do you want done? What’s your budget? What results do you expect? How do you want the results achieved? What’s the time line? What deliverables will you require.  For instance, if you’re looking for a company to do social media marketing for you? Before you start making calls, decide whether you want to use social media for branding, customer support, driving customers to your store or to your website – and what works best for which industries.
Locate and get to know companies and people you might want to use – ahead of time. Check out their websites, check their references, and where appropriate, give them small jobs first. If those are completed satisfactorily, then assign the contractor bigger or more important tasks.

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Entry Filed under: Why Outsource?