Outsourcing is a great way to delegate and get focused on your most high valued activities in your small business. But the decision to trust someone outside your company with a part of your work is definitely not an easy one, and you need to do a lot of thinking and checking. To make it a bit easier, here is a handy list of things you should check about your possible future outsourcing partner.
- Check their LinkedIn page
Of course, googling your potential outsource partner should be your first step, but let’s take it up a notch and check their LinkedIn profile. It’s like a CV on steroids. You can see the basic outlines of their experience but more importantly, you’ll see how their contacts regard them.
You can check for recommendations, and what skills they’ve been endorsed for and see if you have any overlapping contacts. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those contacts you have in common and ask for a reference.
- Check their track record
Try to dig up as much as you can about their previous work. Did they deliver on time? Was the work up to the promised standard?
Ask any vendor for references and check them. Be sure to ask their prior customers how satisfied they were they with their performance. But if you can, go a step further. It can be assumed that people will only give customers who would be a positive reference, but try to dig up some previous clients not listed there and contact them. LinkedIn is a great source for such references.
- Check out samples of their work
If you’re hiring someone to do an artistic job, like a web designer or a writer, be sure to ask them for their online portfolio. It’s a great tool to assess the quality of their work because it’s online. You could presume that they’ve put some time and effort into assembling their portfolio and that only their best work has made the cut.
If the potential partner is a marketing firm, ask for samples of previous marketing campaigns. See how original their ideas are, how well were the ideas implemented and how successful was the campaign.
For more technical jobs, like project management, IT or engineering, you probably won’t be able to get samples due to the confidentiality or the type of work. Ask them to do a simple task instead to test knowledge. Something quick, but what will give you a little insight in how they can handle the tasks and if they know what exactly you’re looking for.
- Check how well you’re communicating
Whether you’re sourcing a resource for just a short project or you’re trying to find someone who will work with you for some time to come, you’ll have to work closely with that person.
They will have to follow your instructions and be able to clearly communicate the progress of the project. If they experience any problems, they must explain where they are against the timeline and how they are going to fix it.
Soft skills are just as important as the actual experience and skill-set to deliver. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact way to assess how easy it will be to communicate with your outsourcing partner. Conduct a thorough interview and go with your gut feeling. Do an email interview, with 10-15 questions to gain additional insight.
- Check their infrastructure
Make sure to minimize the chance of something unexpected happening due to poor infrastructure. Check if your potential outsourcing partner has a stable, fast internet connection and solid anti-virus software. They won’t be only using it for communication, but also for uploading finished work and downloading new tasks. Use cloud passed project management software such as Teamwork or Slack and a cloud based storage solution such as Google docs or Dropbox. It’s crucial to confirm that information be available 24/7 and that there will be no long delays because something avoidable happened.
Although outsourcing part of your business operations can be a daunting task, it can potentially save you a lot of time and money. If you do a thorough check-up of your potential partner, rest assured things will go as smoothly as possible. The simple list from this article is a template to get you started, but the ultimate decision will have to be yours. Trust your gut feelings, and be sure you don’t sign any long term contracts for work.
About the author
Natalie Birch is a young writer and content creator with a passion for reading. She is a part of the content team at StaffOutsourcing.com where she has been involved in interesting projects.