With the incredible growth of the internet and the vast increase in online businesses, it has become commonplace to outsource parts of your work to others. This used to mean just large companies using telephone support centers and mass-producing factories in third world countries because it was cheap. Now every small business owner can outsource portions of work to people all over the world, and for any number of reasons. If done well the business owner can then focus on generating the income, and this can have incredible impact on their productivity and growth. Individual business owners can outsource to get people more skilled or qualified, better located for dealing with overseas stakeholders or customers, convenient in terms of offering 24 hour resources, more willing to do repetitive or meaningless tasks, or more competitively priced. With the internet, anyone can outsource, and equally, anyone can be outsourced.
According to Entrepreneur.com “more small businesses are outsourcing tasks these days because technology has advanced to the point of professionals being able to work from anywhere in the world, coupled with the availability and accessibility of extremely qualified professionals who have decided or been forced to leave the corporate world, [such as] virtual executive assistants, marketing directors, graphic designers, transcriptionists, paralegals, web designers, HR consultants, bookkeepers, PR directors, IT Testing, Dental Clinics and the list goes on. These freelancers come on board as subcontractors and save the small business owner the burden of paying overhead associated with payroll taxes and expenses such as health insurance and worker’s compensation, as well as the space constrictions that growing a company in-house can present.”
As a general rule, you don’t need to do anything that is a waste of your time. You also don’t need to do anything you don’t want to. But how do you get the best out of your outsourcers, and how do you keep track of their work?
You can find outsourcers by getting recommendations from your own business networks, through websites like LinkedIn and Twitter, and through online marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, oDesk, Fiverr and eLance. You should review samples of work and employer testimonials before hiring someone. You should also ‘interview’ a number of candidates and get quotes for services. Like any job you need to feel like you can work with person. Also like any job you tend to get what you pay for.
You need to be clear about what you want them to do; communicate often and well. Monitor the work they are doing and communicate feedback as to how they are going. A contract that covers what you need in detail is a very good idea. You may consider using incentives to motivate the outsourcer to help them maintain focus on your job, as you need to be able to rely on them to work under their own drive.
If the information the outsourcer is handling is sensitive, there are additional concerns. If contractors are handling credit card data, Entrepreneur.com recommends “reviewing their Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance statement; if they are handling health or benefits information, review their HIPAA compliance statement. For a general sense of the contractor’s security policy and practices, review their ISO 27002 compliance statement. The most important step a business owner can take to protect his data is to only provide the outsourced service provider with the absolute minimum data necessary for the provider to do its work”
In order to start outsourcing it is best to take a deep breath, stop trying to control everything, learn to let go, and then start delegating.
Another very good source of information is http://www.incomediary.com/10-steps-to-successful-outsourcing