31 Tips For Successful Outsourcing

By Alyssa Gregory
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outsourcing-tipsYou’ve thought about all of the considerations of subcontracting work, prepared for the transition and found a great subcontractor. You’re ready to start outsourcing. Here are 31 tips to make your outsourcing experiences as smooth as possible.

Come to an Agreement

One of the most important elements of subcontracting is making sure you and the subcontractor are on the same page and that there are no surprises. Keep these things on your list to help facilitate a smooth working relationship:

1. Use a contract
2. Make sure you agree on payment terms up front
3. Don’t pay in full until the job is complete
4. Be clear on how and when you plan to pay the subcontractor
5. Agree on a timeline for the work
6. Include a non-disclosure/non-competition provision in your contract
7. Determine how you will receive project updates
8. Clarify confidentiality expectations
9. Build in a “de-bugging” provision that identifies a specific period of time the subcontractor will be on call to fix potential problems that arise
10. Clarify the ownership of the project in writing

Protect Your Business

When you outsource, you are giving up some of your control over the project. Consider these tips to help you protect your business, interests and reputation:

11. Check references
12. Review the subcontractor’s portfolio
13. Verify skills
14. Consider a small test project first
15. Be prepared to review all work before turning it over to the client
16. Be very clear about expectations
17. Don’t leave any details out when relaying the project request to the subcontractor
18. Send all work requests in writing
19. Schedule an initial call and regular check-ins, if necessary
20. Be available throughout the duration of the project
21. Track all payments for your books

Client Relations

The goal of the project should be to meet and exceed the client’s needs. In order to do that, follow these tips to manage your relationship with your client:

22. Be the middleman
23. Tell your client you are using a subcontractor, if appropriate
24. Pad the time estimate provided by the subcontractor in your estimate for the client
25. Don’t forget to add in time for your management role
26. Be accountable for your work AND your subcontractor’s work

Aside from the Work

Remember the importance of the personal side of your subcontractor relationship. Here are some ways to do that:

27. Don’t overlook the importance of complementary personalities
28. Respect the subcontractor’s time
29. Make sure there are no communication gaps
30. Give praise and appreciation for a job well done
31. Ask the subcontractor how it went at the end of the project and provide feedback

What other tips would you add to this list?

Successful outsourcing will not only allow you to focus on what you do best, but also find other ways to satisfy clients and expand your business. By building relationships with your subcontractors that are based on trust and respect, you will be able to create a team that can accomplish just about anything…and give you a day or two off in the process.

Image credit: Carl Dwyer

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  • Skyview

    32. Establish evaluation criteria for potential subcontractors or suppliers
    33. Determine what type of “agreement” applies in each situation since different types of agreements require different levels of rigor in planning and monitoring their execution
    34. Plan for appropriate transition of the subcontractor’s work into your project

  • 35. Ensure the Subcontractor documents the code to your standard.
    36. Ensure the Subcontractor is licensed/registered as a business and is the legal billing entity and not a third party

  • Rachel Andrew

    At edgeofmyseat.com we work purely on an outsourced basis for our designer and agency clients, so I have a lot of experience of being the subcontractor but also in managing contractors myself. One thing that never fails to amaze me are the number of people who will never check our work before passing it onto the end client. I’m glad they trust us but I can’t help feeling it leaves them very exposed. So tip #26 Be accountable for your work AND your subcontractor’s work is really important. You should definitely add in time to check and test the work yourself and understand it – asking questions of the subcontractor if needed.

    This also covers you in the future if you and the person or company you are subcontracting work to part company. The last thing you want is to be left with projects that you don’t understand at all – and the end client still expecting you to support them. Make sure you have details of how everything works, so you can pass that onto a new sub if and when you need to.