Business Beware: Top 12 Mistakes To Avoid When Outsourcing

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Outsourcing can be a blessing or a curse. Avoid these 12 mistakes to ensure your outsourced projects are successful.

From cost savings to freeing up company resources, there are many reasons why businesses choose to outsource.

Outsourcing can take mundane tasks off the plate of valuable employees, or bring expertise to an area a business doesn’t have in-house.

Whatever the reasons for outsourcing, it can be easy to make mistakes that turn into big pitfalls.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid the most common outsourcing mistakes.

Here’s a look at the top 12 mistakes businesses make when outsourcing.

Related Article: Freelancers to the Rescue: Top 5 Tasks to Outsource for Small Businesses

1. Not Starting Things Off With a Kickoff Meeting

Before you start working together, you should take the time to make sure you’re on the same page about tasks that need to be done, timelines, payments, and other key details. Making the assumption that all of your expectations, systems, and deadlines are clear could lead to some big setbacks.

2. Not Looking at Previous Work Samples Before Hiring

Whether you’re outsourcing content, graphic design, or social media, it makes sense to review the work of anyone you’re considering working with. Not only will you know that they’re capable of quality work, you’ll get a feel for their style. If it doesn’t fit with what you’re looking for, it’s better to know that before signing a contract.

3. Not Communicating While Working Together

Communication needs to keep going beyond that initial meeting; providing a detailed process, making yourself available for questions, and setting up checkpoints to make sure that the project is going in the right direction are also important steps.

This is especially crucial with complex projects, where a minor miscommunication can add up to big problems. To avoid those miscommunications, and subsequent finger pointing, it’s better to keep an open dialogue while the project is going on.

Another reason to keep the channels of communication open is that business goals can change and evolve, and if you don’t explain what the goals are while you’re working with an outsourcer, the relationship won’t be a productive one.

4. Being Slow to Pay What You Owe

A surefire way to run off talent is by leaving them hanging when it’s time to pay an invoice. It’s not good business practice overall, and it’s also not going to get you good results.

5. Trying to Collaborate Across Time Zones

There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing to a country several time zones away, but if the project requires detailed collaboration that will have one of you up in the middle of the night on a frequent basis, perhaps it’s not going to be a productive pairing.It’s also worth considering whether language and cultural differences will hinder productivity.

Related Article: To Outsource or In-house: When Outsourcing Works Best for Startups

6. Expecting Top Notch Work for Minimum Wage Prices

Labor rates vary from country to country. But assuming you can pay the lowest price negotiable, no matter where you’re hiring from, and still expect premium work is a mistake. You will need to pay remote workers a fair compensation if you want them to do a good job. 

7. Foregoing Project Management Tools

There are some great project management tools out there, including apps and websites like Trello, Slack, Google Apps and Evernote that let you chat, update information about projects, and upload documents, all without having to go back and forth in emails or missed calls.

They can be between as few as two people or scaled up to include dozens. Ignoring productivity tools like these will make effective communication a lot harder, and lead to higher frustration on both ends. 

8. Losing Your Cool

Staying in touch and making it clear from the beginning what the procedure should be if a contractor needs help will minimize problems. If and when problems do arise, don’t jump to conclusions and fire off an angry instant message or email; you’re not going to get things back on track by being rude. Try to take into account factors that could have led to the problem, and clear it up with an understanding call or email.

9. Relying Solely on Written Messages to Communicate

Sometimes a topic or glitch is too complex to discuss in back-and-forth messages. Instead, talking on the phone, using video chatting, or even using screen sharing to view the file or website in question will make communication smoother and more efficient.

10. Forgetting to Reward Good Work

Almost everyone feels more motivated and connected to their work when they know they’re appreciated, and remote workers are no exception. When a freelancer or contractor has done a good job, let them know. Chances are they’ll feel more invested in the work and want to go the extra mile for you in the future.

Related Article: Help Is On the Way: 5 Things Small Businesses Should Outsource in 2016

11. Outsourcing the Wrong Things

Just because you can outsource something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Make sure there’s value in outsourcing a project or task; if not, do it in-house.

12. Micromanaging

Just like going completely silent and expecting remote workers to intuit what you need is a mistake, too much dictating can make the outsourcing process much less efficient. Micromanaging also means the outsourcer won’t be bringing their own expertise and ideas, which you presumably hired them for, into a project.

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