An outsourced team can play a crucial role in extending a company’s capacity when help is most needed. Whether a business needs a boost on a software project or an engineer with specific skills to supplement their development team, an outsourcing provider can often be the solution. In fact, 57% of companies use outsourcing to enable them to focus more on their core business, and 28% of businesses use outsourcers to access intellectual capital not available internally.
Though outsourced teams can often act as mercenaries that you call on a case-by-case basis, your company may achieve better outcomes by developing a more extended partnership with your provider. After all, you train your internal team to follow your company culture and values; your outsourced team should feel a similar connection to your work. Instead of just paying a group of people to complete a job, you should develop a longer-term partnership that makes the outsourced team feel that they have a stake in the project, too.
Here are three tips to help turn a provider into a partner:
1. Create a long-term contract with your provider.
If you are used to hiring outsourcing teams for small projects, you may be missing out on the advantages of maintaining a long-term relationship with the organization. The main challenges organizations that work with outsourcers face are communication, deadlines, collaboration, and trust-building. These issues can be even more poignant when you are only sporadically working with the outsourced team. Consider writing out a longer-term contract or agreement that keeps your outsourcing provider in close contact with your internal team. Even if you are not able to create a formal document, write down established company values, goals, and even a brief explanation of your corporate culture so that you and your provider can become more closely aligned.
2. Establish lines of communication with the outsourced team.
By staying in communication with the outsourced team for extended periods of time, you will be able to align your goals better when it is crunch time for an upcoming project. Even if you are not able to create a formal agreement, try to set up an established communication channel that allows team members to stay in touch even when they are not working on a specific project. One of the best ways to maintain communication is to appoint representatives from each organization, usually a project manager, and set up weekly or monthly meetings so they can stay updated on changes and developments at your company. If you are outsourcing to a different country, use tools like Zoom, Twist, Slack, and Appear.In to maintain open lines of communication, even when you’re not working on an urgent project.
3. Develop a relationship of trust.
By treating your outsourcing provider as a partner, you will cultivate a relationship of mutual respect that incentivizes the outside team to bring their best work to help your company. Your outsourcing provider has unique experiences and capacities that could make them a significant asset to your company beyond just completing required tasks. If appropriate, you could invite your provider to contribute to business decisions. To establish trust, give them the space to work without excessive supervision from your team. Accept that your provider may not solve a problem exactly the same way you would; however, they might bring a solution to the table that exceeds your expectations. Trust will allow both parties to work freely and collaboratively as partners rather than as clients.
Building a strategic partnership is a constant work in progress, and you need to proactively develop communication channels so you can tap into your outsourcer’s unique experience and abilities. Consider dedicating a small period of time to updating your outsourcing team on progress at your company so that they feel involved in its development even beyond the individual project you have assigned them. The more your outsourced team feels involved in your company, the more motivated they will be to exceed expectations and help your business succeed.