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?
All have great suggestions and advice Stephanie. I am sure it will be of great help. I fall on the other side of the coin and I will give you my point of view, too (hope it helps), based on my experience. I am writing this not to play a blame game but in hopes that it might be of help to the community members.
1) The freelancers that you have hired are they part time or full time? When you hire freelancer on a part time basis you can't expect them to give your work priority (not always). Like every business works (it is first come first serve or whichever has most $ attached to it or status of the relationship). In this scenario, the freelancer should be professional enough to say no, after being aware of your TAT. Some freelancers may get jittery about the fact they might lose your business if they say "No".
2) This is based on my personal experience of past. I was hired on a full time basis and had to work for 6 days a week. My client had no job or very little for almost 3-4 days a week however on a very short notice he would overburden me with piles of tasks that would consume my week offs, too, just to meet the turnaround time. Technically this means I was working for 7 days a week. This seemed to become a trend and was taking a toll on me and I was loosing the zeal and was hampering the work. Bottom-line: You have to be realistic about turnaround time. I know sometimes you have to do but be realistic and reasonable.
3) Freelancers are not superman: In today's world you ought to find a jack of all trades than master of none however there is also a limit to it. The skill sets expectation should be clear during the initial conversation while hiring. If you give anything that falls beyond the skill set you can be for sure that TAT will be missed and most of the projects are heading towards that.
Bottom-line: When you are hiring a freelancer, please give a deep thought about
1) What do you need the freelancers for? Define job profile and roles.
2) Based on question 1, What skill sets do you need, specifically?
3) Are there any back ups/helping hands with that freelancer to assist him/her, in case a faster turnaround time is required (You should be willing to pay for those extra hours :) ) ?
There is more to it..but it will be too long.
You need to find the right person/people. Anyone you outsource to should have a vested interest in your success and work WITH you. You should feel comfortable from day one - if you don't , then move on and find someone else.
Ask colleagues with a virtual workforce for referrals - that's a good place to start. Also, decide what is more important - saving a few dollars or working with someone who cares about your business as much as you do.
Great question and lots of great answers. As a VA who wants people to outsource I also outsource. It's important to know how it feels and what concerns the client will have - because I outsource I know those.
I then spend time with my client finding out what they need and provide solutions. Set up systems and communicate regularly to ensure they are comfortable with my actions and progress being made. Being a business owner too with many clients I can be pro-active, suggest successful things that other clients have done and use my own experience, training and activities to support my clients.
I also have regular reviews to review the past, plan for the future and improve the systems and/or communication or even discuss new tasks to consider/undertake.
It's not about letting go it's about working with a team and treating your outsourcer as a team member. Letting them have the information as if they were in the office.
Hope that helps.
For outsourcing to work effectively, you can't cheap out. Cheap providers need to do their work quickly because the more clients they can serve, the more they get paid. Quality work is of secondary importance.
Outsourcing works best when you delegate to a professional. Professionals in their field rarely have to do work over because they didn't get it right the first time. Professionals don't need hand-holding, and professionals don't need to be told how to do a task -- they focus on and deliver results.
You should be able to set a deadline, and feel comfortable in knowing that it will be met. To increase your comfort level, set two deadlines; one that you give to the outsourced provider and that is earlier than the 'real' deadline. Keep the 'real' deadline to yourself. This will give you an opportunity to review the work done by the outsourced provider and get it done over if it isn't correct. It will also give you time to touch base with the outsourced provider, if he/she doesn't meet the deadline you gave him/her.
=>Donna Caissie, The ExtraOrdinary Assistant.
In increments - for someone that has trouble letting go I find the best way is to do it slowly as trust builds up. Define the project well and learn from the person what works for both of you. Be committed to making it work and document how you like to interact.
Some people prefer verbal and some written - so find what works for both of you and make sure to take time to chat a least monthly. Some things cannot be conveyed in an email. It usually takes about 6 months to train someone to fully take over an aspect of you company that is important to you. And if it is important it shouldn't be rushed.
That said - Hire slowly and fire quickly. I use a 3 strike rule. If I have made myself clear and feel the goal hasn't been met 3 times then walk away. Quickly. Not everyone is a good fit - but you will find the right one if it is important. Best of luck.
I think the first rule of outsourcing is that it is just a means of delegation and not abdication (e.g. it still needs managing). second rule is that no-one cares about your business like you do - if you outsource then you loose a further degree of commitment that an employee would have. having said that if you invest time in them and have high levels of involvement/communication particularly around the outcomes, the impacts and the reasons for targets/decisions/outcomes then they can become more of a partner than a supplier and more responsive. At the end of the day whether you insource or outsource you are dealing with people and you need to develop the relationship with the people doing the work and if the people are not up to it then you need to find another company to outsource to.
As an entrepreneur, the CEO of your company, you have a limited number of hours to work both IN and ON your business. Constantly flipping your hats not only takes time, but a shift in focus, a reorganization of your priorities and it disrupts your workflow. You may end up overlooking important business details or even client needs because you are buried in the trenches instead of running the front line. Focus on the high payoff activities that model your organization’s vision, foundation and core competencies.
“Exponential growth is possible when we give up trying to do everything ourselves and allow others to leverage THEIR genius to help us grow.” Melanie Benson Strick
I personally believe that if you partner with an entrepreneurial virtual assistant, you are more likely to have a vested partner in your business. When you team up with another like-minded entrepreneur, you are given the opportunity to have a dedicated partner in your success not someone who merely receives a task oriented email to complete.
What are your core values? Do the people you outsource to share those values? If not, they won't value the deadlines in the same way. Make sure the people you hire are people who value your time and resources and share the values that make your business great.
It's hard to let go. This is your baby, and no one will care for it the way you do.
But doing it only your way, with you in the middle, will always inhibit growth and opportunity for the firm and the people in it. You can only do so much, and sustain that over time.
I enthusiastically agree with the other commenters that your subs should not be your subs any longer. Timeline is a fundamental requirement in every project. Repeated failure to deliver on time (I'm assuming the sub did *not* warn you in advance and give you the opportunity to participate in corrective action) is grounds for dismissal, for subs, and employees.
Unfortunately you may have to spend a bit more time recruiting so you can ultimately spend more time doing stuff you like. Outsourcing can work well.
Nobody will care about deadlines as much as you - that's what we all think. Different people handle stress in different ways, and understand who you've outsourced to may be trying to project calm and serenity so that you become confident in them. If you consider it, if they're freaking out you might not trust them as much.
And they may be freaking out, too.
Micromanaging something you used to do is pretty natural. After all, you used to do it and you're certain you were doing it well enough to pay someone else to do it. You should have tangible expectations and schedule.
Understand that there are different styles. Measure things objectively, and spend your time on other things that you planned to when you hired someone to do this aspect for you. Spend a few minutes a day looking over the progress of those that you've outsourced to; communicate with them and try to be understanding. It's difficult, but try.
If you find them missing schedule and expectations, try helping them. It's tough to get good people and sometimes you have to invest some of yourself into them.
And, while you're doing all of this, have a Plan B ready - be it someone else to take over, or taking it back over. Make sure that the reports you get from them will allow you to implement plan B with the least amount of trouble.
I have come to accept that it's about finding great contractors, and then holding onto them. It's normal for 30-50% of outsourced work to come back bad - cut those contractors out and find new ones. This is the "hidden cost" of contracting. Treat the goods ones great, and hold onto them as long as you can.
A good tool to use is a well-documented Statement of Work or contract. In this contract between you and your vendor - you clearly outline the expectations including the amount of work to be delivered, quality of requirements to be supplied, time-lines and the consequences of not meeting the quality metrics and/or timeline. For example, if they meet 100% of their commitments, they receive 100% of the fee. If they are delayed - their fee is affected by missed deadlines.
Another way to ease your fears is in the interview stages. Make sure you ask your vendor about their project management techniques. Understand how they plan to keep the project on-time and meeting your quality standards. Clearly outline your acceptance tests (acceptance tests are actually things you are going to review or test before accepting the task as successfully completed). Discuss what they plan to do if/when their deliverables do not pass your acceptance tests.
By clearly articulating your expectations, providing them the resources that allows them to succeed and outlining the consequences of not meeting the goals -- you will be able to let go and allow them to do outstanding work.
SLA's and project management tools are some of the practices that you should adopt at the time of outsourcing. You should establish various channel of effective communication which will help you to feel involved with the team. This may include escalations, status reports via email on daily basis to keep yourself abreast of the progress of the review and any other metrics that might be helpful.
The project management tool will enable you to monitor and manage active projects; view project progress in real-time; view deliverable statistics; track man hours and project budget; See the CV and interact with any individual on the review team; and provide feedback.
Be very clear on your expectations. Without specific guidance, people will do what they think is right. Have a deadline? Let people know what that is. Also, if it doesn't really impact your business in a negative way, learn to let go of low level activities so you can concentrate on growth.
Hi and Good day
This is a typical problem with entrepreneurs who built the business themselves and did anything and everything out there. Once you have decided to outsource, presume that you would have evaluated the right team to handle the activities. Now if you expect them to handle it exactly the way you would - you need to realize its close to impossible!!! Its like using "rent a driver" on your limo - you will be scared the first time he drives, because you expect the person to drive carefully, consciously as you drive...and most of the times you will be doing a back seat driving though...When outsourcing in business the best option is to
1. Sit with the team before allocating the work - and explain all the aspects of work, the intricacies that you only know, the milestones and reporting parameters that you want etc.
2. If possible list down major tasks or activities where you think, normally an outsourced entity will make mistakes - explain the significance to the team
3. Have micro level tasks and do the follow up on their check points/ milestones than the task itself - because if you start following up at a task level, you are actually become another team member!!!
4, Don't allow delays to happen more than once for whatever reasons, make them understand that they should maintain a discipline to numbers and timelines at all times
5. Try to take the role of a mentor, guide other than the boss at times - to understand if the issues are due to ignorance or innocence.
6. If the delays continue, find someone else to do it
I struggle with this as well but in a different way. I do software development and have to "let go" and delegate to my team in a different country. What makes me feel comfortable is knowing down to the last detail what I'm outsourcing and also knowing exactly when it is finished and correct. Once I know those two things then it's easier to let go because I know exactly what I'm asking and what I expect.
In addition to hiring the right person for the job, be sure to give clear instructions that they can understand and enough time to do the task and make your deadlines clear up front. Remember you may have to spend a little time training them upfront but after that they will be able to take from you the things you don't like to do and do it well. This will give you more time to do the things you like to do, allowing you to make more money.
In addition to having the right people--skilled and trustworthy--can't you make it part of your agreement with them to get their work done on time? E.g.,
"10% shall be deducted from the agreed-upon fee for each day past the deadline that complete and accurate work is received by me."
Are you sourcing locally or out of area? If it's locally, stop by their office every once and a while. It's easy to dodge and deflect phone calls and emails, but people tend to act differently with clients who "might just drop in".
Outsource with firms that are aligned with your company's core values. Monitor on a regular basis.