How do you learn to let go when outsourcing to others?
I have grown my business as far as it can go. I currently outsource on a limited basis. I have found it difficult to let go and let others do their work. No one else seems to be as concerned with deadlines as me. How can I fix this?
First...just do it! But I know that isn't what you are looking for. To be comfortable you need to set up some type of measurement system that enables you to keep track of the work being done on your behalf. That is true whether you relinquish tasks to employees within your company or outsource to a 3rd party. Large third parties will have processes in place to provide you with information that will enable you to do this. With smaller vendors you need to develop a contractual metric system that they agree to regularly report to you. It needs to be based on something that gives you a real understanding of both what they accomplish and the value of what they accomplish. If you do, you can let go knowing that you are still watching. The key is developing the right metrics!
Hire better number one, whether staff or outsource. Know what you are paying for and demand it up front. Outsources are easy to fire and usually easy to replace but also be sure to recognize if you have control issues or communication issues and fix the one that's the real issue.
I recommend giving it to an established agency or a company for that matter, which has the same vision as you do. Be assertive; demand quota and targets from your partners, so that they can maximize the production during their working hours.
Hiring is one of the most important decisions you ever make in a business, yet people do it very badly. They either put too much stock in the CV in front of them or base it on just ow they got on in the interview.
I put a lot of faith in the chemistry, but on the basis that if they're not comfortable answering some basic questions about their own experience, it will show. It always does.
Once done, you need to offer support, but not micro manage. Regular meetings – even if on Skype – will allow you to reiterate what needs to be done to hit the marks. It will also reassure you that your team is on top of things.
Deadlines are not important, they are absolute unless a change is agreed. Start from this position and if you struggle to get them hit, be clear from the start that failings will lead to a detriment. Depending on your remuneration structure, a 'fine' might be suitable, or a bonus might not be achieved. But first of all stand back and consider whether the objectives are fair. That doesn't mean what you might achieve, as you can't expect others to go at it with your level of enthusiasm/focus/knowledge.
I read through many of the response you got and excuse my language, many are BS. Don't ever let go! This is your business and you should always be in control. Set expectations up front. If your outsourcing option is not meeting your expectations you need to have a plan to remediate and resolve the issues or move on. I have seen so many companies outsource and have no "out" and lost millions of dollars for that very reason. It took them months to get out of their "contract" spending more money in the process. Quality will differentiate you - it is not a value; it is required. If deadlines are your issue, then provide your outsourcing organization with an SLE or SLA (Service Level Expectations or Service Level Agreement) I don't know from your question what you are outsourcing but there are ways to positively influence outsourcing.
What I have learnt as a freelance Visual Communications Designer is, a lot of my clients are not 100% honest about deadlines. I think its important to agree on when you want to see the presentation from the outsourced person. This will help you to make adjustments and every other back and forth well before preparing a final presentation for your own client. A written contract is vital especially if the project is big and involves large sums of money. Some outsourced companies or persons have a wide client tell and perhaps a lot on their table, some may not be honest about meeting deadlines probably because they don't want to lose u as a client yet they lack resources to serve as many. A clear contract is always a wise approach so that the quality of your work is not compromised in the process.
It boils down to two things -- expertise and communication. You should be hiring people who know more about the subject/task than you do. (After all, if you have to teach them, you might as well do the work yourself!) It's much easier to hand a project over when you know it's being put in the very best hands possible.
Of course, even the best outsourcer isn't a mind reader. Be clear about your goals/demands/instructions up front.
And finally, if you're finding people who aren't serious about deadlines, they're not good at what they do. Period. They either aren't skilled enough to work efficiently, or they simply don't care if the finished product is done on time. Either way, you've got to find someone else. The good ones DO care about your deadlines!
I haven't used a VA before, but as far as outsourcing, I try and limit the job to very small chunks, that an expert in the field could finish very quickly, get paid, and move on to next task. If project is too long, it just tends to drag on, and they lose interest.
Since YOU are now the boss, YOU have to lay down the law. Tell your VAs what's expected of them, and when the deadlines are, and hold them to it. If you need something by noon on Friday, check with your VA at 9am, or 4pm on Thurs. This is your reputation on the line, so cover yourself.
At a minimum I recommend a Letter of Understanding, if you do not have a formal contract or service agreement. Put your expectations in the letter so there is no misunderstanding . Then be prepared to "fire" the outsourced company/person if they do not perform. Life does happen and sometimes deadlines or quality standards are not met. But if this is a business for you and not a hobby, then you deserve to have partners that support you. I have also included bonuses in my letters so the outside people are also motivated.
As the others have suggested and I concur totally, you must try to build up the trust cycle between you and those you outsource with---understand your strengths and weaknesses, and try to team up with outsource people who have strengths in your areas of weaknesses...and your strengths offset their weaknesses
If you approach this incrementally and expectations are understood by both parties, the net result is that the trust gets better deadlines will be discussed in more responsive and action oriented atmosphere...Try to understand the process that helps get you to the necessary deadlines and the delegation on an outsourced basis will become clearer...and most importantly less stressful
It is a partnership like a marriage..
Have you considered that perhaps for you, the business has grown as far as you are able and willing to let it grow? There is nobody who will do things just as you will. I suggest you take a look at what your intentions are as well as the role you play in achieving them. It should not be about letting it go but rather about letting it be.
Define project milestones and assign resources, and strictly keep track of progress (rather than do the work). If the project does not move in line with plans, remind, and then escalate if you do not see any improvements.
Well there are two possible answers...You'll either want to shift the expectation for the customer when you do outsource, or you'll want to get more stringent with the companies you send business to. In either case it really just depends on what your customers really expect, because if they don't seem concerned then you can do away with deadlines as a concern. Otherwise yes crack down on who gets your leads.
Don't outsource what you're the best at - not even to scale your business; not only are you creating headaches for yourself, you're watering down the quality of your product.
This is not an uncommon challenge for growing small business. In fact, I too am in the middle of settling this process in my own business. I have 2 thought to help you with this question. First, if you really want to grow, you absolutely need certain functionality that you may not be very familiar with. Recognizing this simple fact and staying focused on your own expertise helps you understand that you must rely on others to execute elements that they are more experienced with. For example, my clients outsource their inbound marketing work to me and once we have a discussion and understanding of what technology and implementation represents a successful strategy, they realize these components are best left to marketing experts. You realize as a business owner that you don't know everything and as you grow, you need experts in more and more areas. Embrace this reality. Get excited by knowing that you have a new team that will do it better than you could do it yourself and what that will mean when the system is fine tuned and perfected. The second piece of this equation is measurement. Obviously the first part of my explanation doesn't work if your new team doesn't produce. Therefore, I recommend you develop a system (if you don't already have one) to measure those critical elements that you are most concerned about. Yes there will always be a certain amount of risk when outsourcing but the better the tools you have to measure productivity, the faster you can move from risk, through concern, to success. For example, I need to show all of my clients specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and tangible achievement. There is technology available to measure just about anything now. As you reduce the guesswork and increase grip (measurement), you should be able to run faster and embrace the team that is lucky enough to get the opportunity you are giving.
Unfortunately, it is a trial and error process; however, you have to know what to look for when attempting to outsource work. How organized and responsive are they during the hiring process? Have you checked out their business structure? What makes them want to work with you? And rate of pay, chances are if they have a low price range for their services this can mean two things. Either they are new and don't know how to price their market or this job is just a hobby for them? The second allows them more room not care about the work and your deadlines. I hope this helps!
Dear Stephanie, I think it is a two way street. Whilst letting go is obviously difficult and something you must get accustomed to over time; I have found that it is also about the freelancer or enterprise that you outsource to earning your trust. Structuring the outsource process is a great way of ensuring you feel more comfortable with the process. Setting clear deliverable s against which payment is made in set stages is a great way to make you feel more secure and also a way to build trust. Like most relationships if both parties know what to expect from each other it is easier to build trust over time.
You should also try working with different people and in the same way you would check references if you were employing someone you should also confirm references of freelancers.
I have myself come out of it hard way, Stephanie. This is what worked for me.
Just set a longer deadline for myself. If something needs 5 days to complete, I would expect it done in 7 days and yet set a deadline of 5 days to the outsourced team.
I planned incentives and bonuses for an early and approved project delivery. This worked very well. was a win win for both.
Had to convince myself to be okay with the quality good enough to deliver decent results, save time and money if not as great as when I do it.
I wish you good luck.
I understand your issue. Unfortunately, most outsourcing companies fail to meet the deadlines due to lack of communication between their team and you.
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