Simple Steps to Improve Your Outsourcing

Every business uses outsourcing. Many times we don’t think of it that way but we all use it.

When you mail a letter, you outsource the delivery to the US Post Office.

Think of the number of things that you outsource in your daily life.

1) Electricity

2) Water

3) Cable

4) Telephone

5) Internet connection

6) Banking

7) Groceries

8) Accounting/Bookkeeping

9) Tax preparation

and the list goes on.

Now typically we don’t call them outsourcing. That’s the main reason we struggle sometimes when we think of outsourcing in our business. We think of the services listed above in a different way than we do outsourcing. In all the cases we often use established well known service providers. With outsourcing we are using services to find freelancers who are willing to fill a need in our business.

Outsourcing creates a wonderful way to leverage our business. All the services above we use on a routine basis. Nearly everyone uses them.

What about services that may be more distinct to our business?

1) Article creation and marketing

2) Search Engine Optimization

3) Web site creation

4) Video editing

5) Marketing services

6) Business Coaching

The problem with many of these areas is that the market is very fragmented. Many freelancers exist who have some fantastic skills in each of those areas. The biggest problem with finding a good outsource resource is… finding a reliable trustworthy person.

It’s a lot like hiring an employee. You need to create a system that allows you to quickly find people who can meet the requirements you have. Since some of these items will only come up once in a while, how do you develop a system to do it?

The first thing to do is develop a process for detailing exactly what you want. This is probably the biggest thing that people miss when it comes to outsourcing. They don’t have a clear idea of what they actually want nor how they want it done. This leads to confusion, delays and in many cases hard feelings. So what should be included in a request for quote for an outsourced project?

  1. Time frame – When do you expect the project to be completed. If you have a hard deadline your costs are going to be higher but if you miss it the opportunity cost can be MUCH higher.
  2. Feedback – Set up a process where you review the process at periodic steps. Every major project methodology includes review steps. If your project is relatively simple, have fewer review steps. For example if you are looking to hire someone to write 100 articles for you. Have them write 1 and submit it. Review it and provide feedback. This allows you to quickly get a feel for how well they understood the project and how well they will perform on it. It also gives you a great point to stop the project and find someone else if they aren’t up to the project.
  3. Scope – Provide as much detail on what you are looking for. For example don’t ask to have a 3 page website created. That is simply the beginning of your request. Provide examples of what you want it to look like. If you don’t have any examples, draw it on a piece of paper, scan it and upload to the project. The more detail you can provide, the lower your costs, the faster it gets completed and the happier everyone is.
  4. Cool tip I have heard this one many times in different ways. I recently read about it in the Wall Street Journal. It was cool the first time I heard it and continues to be today. Include a key phrase in your request. Make it distinct and unique so you can quickly sort through quotes to see if they read the request in detail. Many companies will through quotes at every request that comes online. This allows you to quickly filter out a lot of this. It can be a formal statement like used in the Wall Street Journal article or it can be something silly. You can ask them to include “The Pink Bunny Runs Rapidly Towards the Road” if you want.

Outsourcing is a great way for a small business to leverage their assets. If it is a task you do often, find a good resource and utilize them. Treat them well and you will reap the benefits of it.

PS Leave your comments and let me know what other questions you have about outsourcing.