What Are Three Common Mistakes When “Outsourcing”?

We don’t usually like to think of what we do as outsourcing, but it is really. It’s no secret that outsourcing can be huge for small to medium businesses. You get experts without the hassle and cost of training them or employing them directly.

The Office Genie has had successful “outsourcing” relationships with over 600 businesses, so it’s fair to say we know a bit about getting it right. In my opinion, there are three really common reasons outsourcing fails.

1.Expectations
When a relationship between two businesses fails it’s often not because expectation weren’t met, but because expectations were never set. Each business was working from a different manual.

Even if it becomes clear that’s the case, once expectations haven’t been met it’s difficult for the relationship to recover. Make sure expectations are clear on both sides from the beginning.

Here are some ideas of things you want to think about discussing: time frames, accuracy, delivery and overall goals i.e. what does successful relationship look like.

2.Communication
In many ways, this is the most important one to get right. If the communication is good, then everything else should fall into place. You’ll first want to think carefully about who communicates. The account manager won’t know all the details, but going directly to the person doing the work could step on toes and sour the relationship.

The next thing to think about is how you communicate. Emails or other electronic tools (like Slack) make sharing files easy and everything will be recorded, but there’s more room for misunderstandings to occur. Similarly, always doing things on the phone or face to face might lead to things slipping through the net.

Of course, a combination of both is usually best. We’ve used lots of tools over the years and Asana or Slack are our top recommendations for free tools.

3.Control
The biggest problem with outsourcing is usually that the business looking to outsource isn’t able to let go. When you get to a restaurant you (hopefully) let the chef get on with it, right?

It’s the same with outsourcing. Of course, you know what you want and should have your input, but if you’re going to outsource to an expert, trust them and let them get on with it. This is simply required for the relationship to work well.

The business owner must give over control to the outsource agency whilst they are completing the work. That means minimal checking up on them, no interfering or micromanaging. That works both ways of course, when appropriate the business owner should feel they can ask for changes.

That should give you a good start at avoiding the three most common mistakes when outsourcing. Remember to communicate, share your expectations and then let them do their job!

I’d also recommend learning to let go of little mistakes on both sides in the early days. Absolutely raise them, but it will never be a comfortable relationship if you keep bringing them up and nit-picking. A relationship is a fluid thing, and you will both learn about each other as time goes on.

All of our clients – current and past – have taught us something and left us better off. I hope we’ve done the same for them, and that this helps you have the same rewarding relationships.

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