Outsourcing work overseas is a challenge many start ups and online retailers face. These days however, it has become much easier to find overseas professionals with readily available marketplace platforms, like odesk, guru, elance and many more.
But managing a person or team overseas is definitely not a walk in the park, and there have been countless horror stories of overseas outsourcing gone wrong. Speaking from experience I have created a list of important things to consider when outsourcing projects overseas.
Here are my 15 tips to consider when outsourcing work overseas:
1. Clearly scope out and schedule your project and define deliverables
Be very clear on the scope of your project; define your project requirements so that service providers know exactly what the deliverables are and when are the scheduled deadlines. For some service providers you have to literally spell it out, as they will do the absolute minimum based on the project scope.
2. Be very “Choosy” when hiring
Be very picky when you are hiring, there are many service providers out there, so you don’t need to be in a rush. Also don’t choose a service provider based solely on price, look at other aspects as well and choose based on a balance of good value and quality results.
3. Look for the right experience fit
Make sure the service provider specialises in what you need them to do, and make sure they have specific experience with the type of project you want them to complete. A lot of service providers will be able to do many tasks, but will specialise in none.
4. Review rating, statistics and feedback
When choosing a service provider it is important to review all the statistical information that is available on their marketplace platform. Most of the platforms will show their work history, how many hours they have worked, what tests they have taken, and any feedback from previous clients.
5. Review portfolios and sample work
Ask the service provider to provide you with a portfolio of work they have done previously, or get them to do some sample work to show that they actually do have expertise in that area. This will ensure they have the right skills to compete the project tasks.
6. Arrange a call or SKYPE interview
It is always best to talk to someone face to face before you employ them, but it’s not so easy if they are in a different country. Thanks to SKYPE you can easily have a face to face discussion with them to make sure they are who they say they are, and gauge how effective they will be at communication and handling the project.
7. Have payment based on clearly defined milestones
Define your scope into a plan with defined milestones and base payment on the completion of each milestone. Always pay by hour rather than by project, this will ensure that the project isn’t rushed and ensures quality.
8. Test a few providers, before you make your selection
Don’t rush to hire a service provider and stick with them the whole way. Start interviewing a few candidates and give them small portions of work to test them out and pick the best out of the lot. Also do not sign a 1 year contract before testing out the relationship and their performance. Start small and commit gradually.
9. Have everything documented in writing
Make sure you have everything documented and in writing. Be clear on who owns the resulting work and make sure there is an understanding from both parties on the intended use of the deliverables. Also keep a written record of project goals, pay schedules and any changes made.
10. Make sure you have an NDA signed
It is very important to have an NDA (non disclosure agreement) signed by both parties, especially if the provider has access to sensitive company information, that could be used in an unethical way. Any refusal to sign an NDA should be a sign of bad things to come.
11. Have a support clause ready
Many companies forget to prepare a support clause when they hire someone for a project. This is especially important when hiring for projects that involve expertise that the company does not have internally. So drafting a support clause will ensure you get continuing support from the provider even after the project has been complete.
12. Have a review schedule with status updates
Make sure that you are constantly updated with the status of the project, it is important to always be in the loop of what is happening with the project’s process. A good way to do this is by having regular SKYPE calls, while also having a status update policy.
13. Plan a clear exit strategy
Outsourcing projects is a risky business, and having successfully hired a service provider does not mean that the project will be a success. It always good to have an exit strategy just in-case any issues arise during the project. Always have in writing the terms of the contract and consequence if any part of the project is not completed as agreed.
14. Treat your employees as team members
To get the best out of your service providers, treat them as team members. Get to know them personally and work for win – win outcomes, because if you find someone good, you will want to keep them for the long term.
15. Give honest feedback on how well the job was done
Finally give praise and appreciation when a job is well done, and give good written feedback. If a job is not done well, give the appropriate feedback, as other companies looking to use them in the future will find this feedback very useful.