September 8, 2010
This is a guest blog from one of our friends as WinWeb.com, Stefan Topfer.
Welcome to my guest blog post here at Shipwire. My name is Stefan Topfer and I am CEO of WinWeb.com. At WinWeb.com we specialize in helping small businesses to run their business, not their office, and a vital part of this is encouraging small businesses to outsource business activities.
The idea of outsourcing is not new, and in the current economic climate outsourcing is a prudent and sensible way to relieve pressure on your core staff members, without having to take on excessive amounts of new staff.
The benefits of outsourcing are obvious for many small businesses; however, managing outsourced vendors can strike fear in to even the most experienced small business owner. There are a few rules to abide by when outsourcing elements of your business.
- Do Your Research — The old saying “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to outsourcing. If a person or a company is offering rock bottom prices always ask yourself why, and make sure you ask for sample details of work and testimonials or references from previous clients.
- Establish Good Communication — Before embarking on an outsourcing relationship, ensure that the lines of communication are open. If you can’t contact someone when you are looking to outsource to them, chances are they will be difficult to get hold of while they are working for you. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to contact someone who is responsible for an outsourced element of your business.
- Be Clear — It is no good expecting someone to do something exactly to your specification if your instructions are vague. When outsourcing, make sure that you are clear and concise in your instructions. Ensure that you are available to answer questions regarding the task and respond courteously and clearly to any questions.
- Set Milestones — Setting milestones is a great way to ensure that your project is going to plan. If you are outsourcing content writing, for example, always check the work at regular interval to ensure that the writer is along the right track, and taking the content where you want it to go. There’s no use in realising they”d genuinely misunderstood the brief 10,000 words too late!
- Make Payment Terms Clear — Be sure that the payment terms are decided and agreed upon by both parties. Whether it’s 10% upfront, with regular milestones through to completion, or full payment once the project is completed to satisfaction, make sure these are understood and agreed to, in order to save any problems at a later date.
- Keep The Door Open — If you have had an excellent outsourcing relationship with someone, be sure to keep the door open to enable him or her to undertake further projects in the future.
Outsourcing is a fantastic way to relieve pressure on your business; however mismanaged outsourcing can spell disaster. The points above should help you to manage your outsourced relationships more efficiently and effectively. My final tip would be communicate, communicate, communicate; outsourcing will help your business, but you need to ensure the lines of communication are wide open to enable to it work successfully.