Outsourcing services offers plenty of benefits, from increasing efficiency and productivity to saving on costs. And today, there are plenty of high-quality outsourcing companies across industries like software development and information technology (IT).
But for some, relinquishing control can be a challenge, especially when you’re working with a new provider. How do you maintain oversight when outsourcing without micromanaging?
Have a Frank Discussion with the Provider from the Get-Go
Early on, it’s essential to lay out your expectations in terms of how you want to formulate and maintain your relationship with your outsourcing provider. Discuss not only what you want your partner to do but also how you hope to keep track of benchmarks, overcome obstacles, and — of course — maintain oversight throughout the project.
Give the provider the opportunity to express their own ideas, including any concerns or questions they have. This will help ensure that all cards are on the table.
What do you want to get from this partnership? What are your objectives for the project? Make your goals clear to the provider — otherwise, how can they be expected to meet them? Your job is to formulate your requirements and outcomes, while the provider’s job is to determine the best path for reaching them and carrying that plan out.
There are many different models your partner may employ when working to achieve those goals, and part of maintaining your role in the process is to discuss the model that will be best for your project. Your provider will advise you based on their knowledge and expertise but, ultimately, the decision will be yours.
Choose the Right Provider
One reason why you may have trouble relinquishing control is that you’re not fully comfortable with their practices and methodology. Trust is an important aspect of your working relationship, and without it, you’ll surely encounter problems. That’s why it’s essential to choose a company that’s a good fit for you and your business.
In order to choose a partner that will complement you, consider factors such as:
- Where the provider’s expertise lies, in terms of industries in which they’ve completed projects and features they’ve offered.
- The location of the outsourcing company.
- The language and culture of the provider.
- Their experience with your particular needs.
Pinpoint Communication Strategies
Having a solid system for communicating and being kept up to date on your provider’s efforts will help give you some peace of mind and enable you to observe their efforts without being overbearing.
Regular check-ins via a videoconferencing platform like Zoom or Skype can be very useful — you can receive weekly or biweekly updates on progress and any information you need to know. Informal communication via a platform like Slack can also help. Consider using a project management tool to help you oversee the entire process from afar, too.
Have a Point Person
Part of the reason why you’ve most likely hired an outsourcing company is to take tasks off of your plate and free up time. That means you don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty details of a project that’s in someone else’s hands. But in order to maintain control, you’ll still need to be kept apprised of their efforts.
One way to retain that oversight while gaining back time is to assign a point person to the project, such as a project manager. The outsourcing partner will touch base with this individual on all project-related matters. This will also reduce confusion and avoid the chaos of having too many people involved and giving directions.
Clearly Define Roles
When you outsource your project, the company will most likely have an infrastructure in place with roles integral to the product’s completion. But your employees will also be involved in the process — after all, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s important that everyone understands their role as it relates to the project.
For example, in the case of software development, your in-house technology team might be working closely with the outsourced developers on different aspects of the project, so you’ll need to be clear about who’s supposed to be doing what so no one oversteps.
Get Your Resources in Order
While your partnering team will have the equipment and employees they need to complete your project, there are some tools that could be unique to your organization and way of doing things that will require some explanation. For example, perhaps you use particular project management tools that your provider will need to access.
It’s important to figure out what resources your provider will need prior to beginning the project so that you can take a step back and let them work. You want them to have all the tools they need at their disposal so you can focus on other priorities.
Keep Shared Risk in Mind
In many cases, working with an outsourcing partner means you’re sharing risk. That means that both of you have a vested interest in the project turning out successfully since you’ve both put in time, money, and resources.
Because this is a partnership, you must act as equals. This is your project, but your partner has something at stake, too. Have discussions, as opposed to giving orders. Make sure you listen to what your partner has to say — they have the experience to back up their advice.
Recognize that There Will Be Obstacles
Of course, you will encounter difficulties when outsourcing any project. As you probably already know, nothing goes perfectly smoothly all the time in the business world. Account for a transition period, when you’ll both have to adjust to each other’s norms and work styles and try to be patient. Be open about any concerns you have along the way, too — this will allow your partner to address them.
It can be difficult to give up control when you’re a leader, but it’s necessary when you’re outsourcing work. You’re making this decision to leverage expertise and gain efficiency and productivity. The first step in making that happening is knowing when to take a step back and let others do what they need to do.