Many traditional roles that used to be handled in-house are now being outsourced by businesses across the world. The Internet has made a global marketplace of freelancers and digital nomads accessible to all.
Sales, marketing, and social media are becoming increasingly easy to outsource with freelance networks and places like LinkedIn expanding the marketplace and making headhunting easy.
But what do you need to consider before outsourcing? What tips will help you make the right decision?
I have rounded up some tips from the experts to help you on your outsourcing journey.
1. Google Potential Freelancers
Writer and Head of Words at Herding Cats Publishing, Catherine Yaffe uses search engines to run background checks on any freelancers that she will outsource projects to.
“Simply type their name and business name into Google and see what results it brings. Ignoring their website and LinkedIn profile, for now, look to see if their name appears on any sites related to their industry. This shows that they’re not just walking the walk, they’re actively involved too.”
2. Tailor Your Qualifications to the Particular Job
Smallbiztrends contributor Annie Pilon stresses the need to tailor qualifications to each job when looking for a freelancer to outsource to. It’s important to ensure that applicants have an appropriate level of experience for each job.
“For some roles, skills matter more than experience and vice versa. For instance, Ducker said he usually looks for contractors with at least three to five years of experience. But when it comes to web developers, there are some young people with not quite as much experience but plenty of skills to get the job done.”
3. Outsource to Save Time
Fred Chua CEO of Magellan Solutions Outsourcing believes that core activities should be outsourced or white labeled as a way to save time. This can lead to more focus on other business activities such as expansion and sales.
“Outsource to have more time for income-generating activities. Efficiency and productivity are crucial for any business to be successful, but this does not mean doing it all by yourself. Outsourcing certain aspects of your business give you back the time to do other income-generating activities, such as brainstorming for your next marketing campaign or customer engagement efforts.”
4. Write a Solid Contract
Rob Rawson, Creator of ‘Time Doctor” believes in writing airtight contracts to ensure that you and your chosen freelancer are on the same page. Contracts are essential for solidifying trust and laying down rules and conditions for certain projects.
“This is especially important when dealing with a services vendor. Your contract determines the dynamics of your partnership and works in two ways. It establishes expectations at the outset of the relationship and serves as a record to refer to from then on. A contract should outline specifics about payment, creative and other rights, expectations and roles, and outline an exit strategy. It’s vital to have a lawyer review any contract you sign.”
5. Consider Project Management Software
Contributing Writer for TheDailyMBA.com, Jarie Bolanger, recommends using project management software to ease communication between your business and freelancers.
“Choosing to outsource isn’t without its fair share of risks, but many business owners are finding they can cut down on miscommunications and expensive reworks through the use of project management software. Software products like Asana can make your workflow a whole lot easier and manageable. In order to maintain cohesion across the board, from in-house employees to outsourced employees halfway around the world, transparency is key. Asana can help you track the progress on a given project, and give you a bird’s eye view of the work yet to come.”
6. Clarity of Communication is Important
Eric Gati of My4hrworkweek.com writes how clarity of communication is important so that freelancers manage their time properly and know exactly what is needed for each task set.
“You may be paying your VA $7 per hour, however, if your task(s) wind up taking three times longer than they should, you’re effectively paying $21 per hour. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve worked on where unclear instructions were given to a virtual staff in a haphazard manner, eventually necessitating an entire re-do of the project. It’s not worth rushing your instructions and explanations. Clear instructions may not always be enough, however, especially in an e-mail.”
7. Understand the Conventions of the Industry
Shaa Wasmund, CEO of Smarta.com writes how it’s important to understand the conventions of the industry you hire from before creating a brief.
“Different types of industries all have different conventions around hiring, whether that’s bookkeeping, personal assisting, copywriting, graphic design, or something else.
For example, when you hire a copywriter, they’ll probably ask you for a creative brief — a short document in which you explain what you want, your customer avatar, and give them information about your branding. Likewise, a graphic designer may ask you for a flat plan if you are asking him or her to create a workbook.
If you’re not sure what you should be sending the person you want to hire, then just ask! By giving them what they need to work in a format they’re comfortable with, you’ll make it much easier for them to give you what you want.”
8. Don’t Assume You Know It All
Former Business Editor of The Times, Chris Johnston writes of how contractors can help advise you on best practices you may never have considered.
“It is easy to think that you, the customer, has all the answers. But consider that you may not be asking all the right questions. Deloitte’s Punit Bhatia says that contractors usually have a wealth of experience and can assist their clients to make improvements in ways they might not have considered. “Seek their help and don’t just treat them like a supplier – working together can result in a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties,” he advises. When a well-known electronics company, was striking a deal to outsource finance processes, its primary concern was ensuring the supplier felt empowered to challenge ideas it disagreed with, Mr. Bhatia explains.”
9. Consider Admin Costs
Writer for Beverly Hills Magazine, Jacqueline Maddison writes of the benefits of outsourcing in cutting admin costs.
“In a time where remote working is fast becoming the choice for busy individuals. It is arguable that admin costs, such as the office, are an expense many businesses don’t need. Many businesses now opt for the executive office suites. The many upshots to this setup include full administrative support, central location, and cost effectiveness. For companies that are looking for beyond one location, and are aiming for a worldwide market, this is a very good option.”
10. Sift and Sort Through Job Applicants
Dmitriy Koslov, Writer for Incomediary.com believes that there are certain things to look for in applicants. Therefore you must be patient and sift through good and bad proposals.
“Now that you’ve posted a job and sent out some outgoing requests, you’ll start to get a number of applications to sift through. Depending on how many you get, narrow it down to the top 5 – 7 applicants based on your profile, and decide to schedule an interview with those applicants.
Here are some things I typically see in an application:
- Resume with some past employment and education
- Links to previous projects (since I’m in the web design business)
- Their answers to my job post requests, either in a list or in a paragraph “cover letter” format.
- Take the application itself as an evaluation tool. Take a look at how complete it is and the language used – depending on your requirements, this can matter a lot in and of itself.
Then, of course, evaluate the technical details of the application. Pick your favorite 5 – 7 applications and move onto the next sorting step: The Interview.”
Outsourcing is a fantastic way to increase productivity, expand your business and learn from experts in their chosen fields. Popular websites such as UpWork can help with listing jobs and finding the correct freelancer for most projects.
What have been your experiences with outsourcing? Feel free to comment below!