As a business owner, you’ll often require the help of a professional in subject matters beyond your expertise. Your first urge may be to hire someone in-house. However, this may not be the most effective solution.
After all, there are costs involved with hiring new employees. Additionally, you may find you don’t truly have enough work to justify a new hire.
How to manage outsourced projects
Running a small business — a marketing agency — has allowed me to be on both sides of the vendor-client relationship. I’ve often needed additional help in areas where I lack expertise.
After a few new hire failures, I realized that hiring to fit every small need wasn’t the smartest move. So instead, I looked for vendors to fulfill niche roles. Today, I work with a variety of partners that allow me — and the rest of my employees — to concentrate on what we do best, without worrying about overhead and challenges associated with recruiting and hiring for temporary and small roles.
However, outsourcing projects to contractors, partners or vendors comes with its own unique challenges. Here are four things I’ve learned about maximizing outsourced relationships.
1. Set goals early
Regardless of what you’re outsourcing, it’s crucial to set goals from the start. Whether you’re contracting a bookkeeper to maintain your books, a PR company to boost press or a recruiter to find new talent, discuss your goals and provide a time frame. Additionally, paint the picture for what success looks like.
Help your contractor make efficient decisions from the start. Failure to do so means your contractor will be left guessing; and waste both your time and money.
2. Identify expectations
Expectations are essential for any successful relationship. In my experience, setting expectations for both parties is the key to outsourcing success. This means both parties should identify expectations for the daily workflow.
For instance, if you’re working with a content writer, they may require review and approval of pitches within a specific time frame to stay on track. Similarly, you might expect your IT contractor to proactively deal with all software and hardware updates and take full ownership and responsibility of cloud migration. Whatever the expectations, it’s important to set them up front. This makes it easy for all parties to stay on track and work collaboratively to achieve established goals.
3. Keep communication open
If clear expectations are critical for working relationships, so is communication. Without it, all else can fail. Communication ensures everything will go as planned. For my company, this has meant recap emails, reports, weekly calls, monthly meetings, etc.
The key is regular correspondence. Even when there are only a few things to recap, it’s important to develop a communication routine. This allows both parties to take a pulse check and discuss new initiatives for the future.
4. Don’t be afraid to recalibrate
Regularly assess and recalibrate your working relationship. While ending the relationship may sometimes seem easier than addressing changes in scope or direction, outsourced partners are often willing to make adjustments. Unlike finding a new vendor, you’ve already built a history and understanding that is hard to achieve in a short period of time.
The next time you find yourself in need of a professional to fulfill a specific role or to handle a particular project, you might discover that a freelance contractor, vendor, or agency might be your best solution. Not only will you get the expertise you need, but it will also come with your own terms.
This article has been edited.
As the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow an online presence and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly-effective marketing strategies that meet every company’s individual goals. Connect with @sthimothy on Twitter.