4 Secrets to Putting Together an Outsourcing Dream Team

Office TeamOutsourcing has its challenges, and putting together an outsource virtual team can sometimes be a challenge too. A bit of patience up front on your part helps you get the right professionals and create a framework where you can all work well together. And even when you get your dream team up and running, occasional substitutions may be necessary as availability dynamics ebb and flow. However, all challenges aside, a team of skilled workers who work smoothly together can help boost your business. I found this to be very true as I built different hybrid (staff and freelance resources) teams for different types of projects while I was at Minolta. Let’s look at some basic steps to get you started:

Drafting Your Dream Team

The first step is define your project carefully so you can accurately decide exactly what skills you need in order to move your business forward. You should look for skilled professionals with both expertise and experience. When you first discuss the projects with them, make sure not only that they’re skilled (and have the references and samples to back that up), but that they also can – and will –maintain the level of commitment you need to see your project through to the end – again, the references and recommendations will be important here. (One of the greatest recommendations I could give for someone is that I would hire them again.)

Of course, the best virtual workers – the ones you want on YOUR projects – have other jobs in addition to yours (sometimes adjusting production schedules can alleviate this occasional tug-of-war), but it’s still important to foster team spirit. Make sure they can meet deadlines, make meetings, and communicate effectively with you and the rest of your team.

Get Everybody Together

Although you all may never see each other face to face (I was lucky here, most of my teams came into our facility to work together, though I later pioneered having some of my people work at home during hours convenient to them). But it’s good for team building to get everyone together at least once. If you have a programmer in India and a writer in Tasmania though, this may be almost impossible. But today, with Web-based teleconferencing you can achieve something almost as good. Try to have a meeting where everyone can chat and get to know each other, even if it’s just through Skype®.

Open Lines of Communication

Make sure that everyone can easily communicate with each other through a variety of media. In addition to scheduling meetings with selected members of your team, you should also schedule one-to-one calls with everyone for milestone checking and addressing any issues that pop up – and they will.

Because arranging meetings with workers in different time zones can be difficult, try to build set times for your virtual meetings so your team members can depend on when they can get answers.

(Interesting sidebar story here: When I started with Minolta, we in the US communicated with the home office in Japan via teletype. Messages went out end of day here in the US – which was start of day in Japan. This gave the folks over there all day there, while we were asleep here, to research answers and send out replies end of day there… which was start of next day here – worked beautifully. Later, this moved to fax, and, of course, now, email.)

Feedback Is Key

Since you’re aiming to establish long-term relationships, it’s important that everyone’s on the same page and they all feel good about what they’re doing. As the manager of this team, you’ve got to give them feedback. This should be both constructive feedback to help them understand better what you want out of them, and positive feedback to praise them for a job well done. Positive feedback is particularly important because you don’t have face-to-face contact and they need this reinforcement.

Another guiding principle I used with my teams and in interactions with others around Minolta: “Find out what people need from you so you can get what you need from them.” Turning what you need from others into transactions very often made the process move much more smoothly!

And before you put together your team, make sure that you’ve got the platforms you’ll use for communications and file sharing ready. These tools make everything much easier for you and your team. There are many tools available for doing this, so, before you need it, shop around and find a system that fits YOUR business and your team’s style of work.


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