So, you’ve worked out the true cost of outsourcing for your business. You’ve weighed up the pros and cons; evaluated the capability and time resource of your own team, and you have processes in place, so it all runs like clockwork.
Deciding to outsource time-consuming tasks or projects that require specific expertise, is a super-smart business choice. Successful companies are no longer built on siloed thinking and passive functions. The most agile businesses will embrace the combined knowledge of many diverse individuals working together towards a common goal.
Outsourcing smaller tasks or entire projects to experts will reap its rewards. And, with the rise of the gig economy, there has never been a better time for companies — from one-person enterprises to huge corporates — to outsource and secure amazing, flexible talent to meet a short-term business need.
However, making the decision to outsource is just the easy part. Finding the right people, teams or agencies, to take on a task that has traditionally been done in-house, or that the business doesn’t know how to do, is a bit trickier. Your business must make the right decisions when it comes to outsourcing, or it can end up as a costly mistake.
1. Don’t discount your existing workforce
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to outsource to freelancers or agencies. You can consider insourcing.
For many businesses, using freelancers or outside agencies still carries too much of a risk. Especially if you operate a business with high-level security stakes. If your company is large enough, it might be better to first look within. Your own staff may have the skills required to work on ad-hoc projects and tasks. And, those who are looking for more flexible ways of working, might be the perfect solution.
Before you outsource, can you use the assets you already have?
- Identify staff who are currently on part-time contracts but would like to increase their hours (and pay) on their own terms.
- Identify staff that are not fully utilised within the business.
- Consolidate and restructure your existing team and then look for those who can help to deliver a short-term demand.
Outsourcing typically comes with a high price tag, albeit with equally huge benefits. If you have flexibility within your team, then it’s a great place to start.
2. Outsource to people who are motivated by your company’s success
The best people and teams to take on flexible, short-term projects for your company are those who are motivated above and beyond the paycheque. These are the people who will always deliver the best value.
Source talent that can provide evidence of going above and beyond. Those who have an innate interest in people before profit, and who are inspired to continually do better.
If your business can find and reward these people, you’ll build an excellent team of loyal freelancers/contractors, who you can rely on for years to come.
3. Choose people with strong technical abilities
It’s frustratingly common to outsource tasks to people who not technically confident. Even the most patient of business leaders will become frustrated if they can’t reach out to their outsourcing partners because of a lack of technical ability.
The best hires will be well versed in digital communications and will already be equipped to do the job. Although there may be an element of training involved with in-house software or processes, you should not have to question if your remote colleagues can access shared files on Google Drive or make a video call due to lack of technical knowledge.
4. Know what you want but be prepared to compromise
You may have an in-house function that knows what it wants and how it needs to achieve its goals. But this function might be so rammed with other, higher-priority work that the only choice is to outsource.
Remember, when selecting outsourcing partners, they will often have their own agenda and will typically only choose to take on projects with companies that are the right fit for them. A business that is searching for a unicorn may end up with a donkey with a traffic cone on its head if they’re not prepared to compromise on the requirements demanded by contract workers.
5. Consider the hiring location
The beauty of living in such a remarkable and diverse world is that freelancers/contractors can work from almost anywhere. And, although only hiring from within your own geography can restrict the diversity of your talent pool, it’s important to consider the location, communication and outsourcing budget of your business.
Key questions to ask when outsourcing to talent from overseas before you hire:
- How will they communicate with your business and vice versa?
- What is the time difference and how will that be managed internally?
- What standard of required language (written and verbal) is needed from your outsourcing partner?
- Do they live in a country with stable technology?
- How will security issues be managed and monitored?
6. Create a healthy outsourcing culture
Remote workers can go by many different names: advisors, freelancers, contractors, giggers. However, they all have one thing in common; flexibility is often essential for those who choose to work in this way.
Therefore, to work successfully with outsourced teams or individuals, it’s crucial to maintain the integrity of their career choice. This means that whilst deadlines are important, micromanaging is seriously off-limits. Although outsourcing partners must absolutely be held accountable for the quality and on-time delivery of their work, they cannot be held to the same level of accountability as full-time employees.
A great outsourcing culture moves beyond bean bags and free fruit Fridays. It means inspiring teams to align with the company vision, providing the right tools and technology, and building a virtual environment where everyone can share success.
7. Pay attention to onboarding
Not onboarding your new outsourcing partners effectively is a bit like chucking a smoke grenade into a fog and running away as quickly as possible.
The onboarding process is essential if you hope to build any sort of long-term relationship. Make sure that your outsourcing partners have everything they need to do their job well, such as:
- Contact information for all necessary key people in the business.
- Systems login information.
- Brand guidelines and brand books.
- Access to team communication and project management tools.
Set out your expectations as clearly as possible from day one. Freelancers and contractors thrive on building lasting and profitable relationships, so give them what they want right from the start, and they’ll remain loyal to you forever.