Before you decide to do any outsourcing at all, you need to identify which areas of your business might benefit from outsourcing. Then consider the benefits to your organization when outsourcing a particular task. If you already have excellent in-house skills in a particular field, you may decide that that role should remain at home. However, some financial aspects of the business, such as payroll operation, can be done just as effectively and often cheaper by an outside organisation. Other common tasks that are outsourced are customer service, technical support and software development. Once you get started you can learn how to outsource almost anything.
An equally important thing to consider is how much training you would need to provide in order for the project to be a success. If the task requires intensive training, is it really worth the expense?
If I was asked how to outsource successfully, I would say that there are three vitally important things to take into consideration.
- Project Planning
- Project Management
You would not start a new in-house project without careful planning and the same applies when you think about outsourcing your work.
The project planning stage is where you set the goals and objectives for the project. You should also set time lines and consider all the different scenarios that could cause the project to be delayed. Project planning is basically the foundation around which the project will grow.
During this stage you also need to consider the human resources that will be required. Think of your outsourcing provider as a partner. You will be working closely with them and need to be able to communicate very clearly. This is an important factor when learning how to outsource. Depending on the outsourced project, a certain amount of flexibility may also be required. Will the service provider be able to cope with additional short-term pressures?
Project management is an equally important step when you are planning how to outsource a role. You need to decide how to organise and manage your resources. If you have not planned for every eventuality, things may not run smoothly and mistakes may be made. This is where your skills as a good communicator really come forward. Be prepared to be patient and when mistakes are made, be ready to correct them in a way that does not upset the working relationships that you have with your outsourcing contractor.
An important lesson in learning how to outsource is always be constructive with your criticism and take the time to ensure that the provider understands exactly what is expected of them. Try and work out why things went wrong in the first place; was it a case of the provider simply misunderstanding your instructions? Or was the root of the problem based around a communication problem?
Once you have mastered the golden rules of planning, management and communication you are well on you way to learning how to outsource successfully!