How to Avoid Expensive Outsourcing Blunders

Helping_HandsOutsourcing is basically buying the time of others because you don’t have enough of it yourself. When you consider time as money (which, in business, is all it is), outsourcing to some, “helping hands” can be a very good deal. In fact, many marketers say that outsourcing is the secret to their success. It takes so many of those little pain-in-the-neck tasks off your hands so that you can do the work that adds the most value to your business. Done well, outsourcing can save you loads of time (and money). Done the wrong way, however, it can cost you lots of time, aggravation, and yes, money… and you still end up having to do the work yourself.

Know Who You’re Working With

The biggest mistake is not knowing exactly who’s doing the work for you. Time spent doing your homework and searching for good freelancers and virtual assistants will definitely pay off. Worst case, if you don’t research your resources thoroughly, you just might pay someone your valuable budget money not get any work output from them.

Make sure that you know exactly who you’re dealing with. Check out each prospective worker’s testimonials, samples and references. Before you get hand off a project, talk with them at least once on the phone or on Skype. A good practice is to start with a small job first before you trust them with bigger projects. Make sure you discuss the project results with the person doing the work after it is done to make sure they know what went correctly, and what needs to be done differently on future projects. And, of course, if you are totally unsatisfied with the work, you don’t need to work with that person for future projects.

Don’t Trust Too Much

To some extent when outsourcing, you’re letting your hired hand into your business. They may be privy to all kinds of information about what you do. You may even have to trust them with your website and your passwords. If you hire the wrong person, you may not only lose your money but also your sense of security.

Again, check references and make sure you know who you’re dealing with. If it makes you feel uneasy to give away certain information, don’t give it away. Let them know exactly what they need to know in order to do the job and nothing more. Sometimes, you should pay attention to those “gut feelings.”

Set Milestones

If you set up a job with a hired worker and don’t hear back from them for days or weeks, it can make you feel uneasy. That’s why it’s important to set up checkpoints or milestones. That was a definite advantage when I had my department in Minolta – the “clients” were just down the hall and I could always check with them to make sure we were on track. This resulted in no major end of process course corrections and no surprises at delivery… quick, efficient, and budget friendly. So create a touch point schedule and see how the project is progressing. You can also use these meetings to see if they have any questions they may not be asking.

Whenever you outsource, make sure that you have a backup plan. Even when you’ve chosen someone you think is perfect for the job and things are going well, things can happen. Make sure that your time frame has some leeway and that you’ve got extra money budgeted just in case there’s a snag. This is just another way of stating the good management concept, “Budget for failure.” That way, if something goes wrong, you don’t wind up falling down a big hole. It’s also good to have a “pool” of possible freelancers available in case the one you’ve chosen suddenly doesn’t work out.

Working with freelancers and virtual assistants can really save a business… the teams I built while I was at Minolta were a true Godsend. They allowed me to create top quality, award winning programing that delivered great sales for the company. But until you have a good team in place that you can trust (as I did), move slowly and cautiously. It could save you lots of aggravation and money.


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