Do you think that just because your business is small you can’t outsource? There are ways to send your writing, IT tasks and other needs overseas to add efficiency to your enterprise. By doing some prior planning and following some pointers, you can get the quality help you need.
Here are some pointers for launching your outsourcing operation.
1. First, define your core: Don't hand over the core functions of your business. Consider outsourcing other operations that are not as strategic.
2. Evaluate a service provider like you would a full-time employee: Ask questions, check references and ask for feedback from other clients who have used the provider's services.
3. Clearly define the scope and schedule for your project: Be up front about your project requirements so that service providers know about schedules and deliverables.
4. Don't choose a vendor based solely on price: Discard the highest-priced and lowest-priced bid. You want a balance of good value and quality results.
5. Review portfolios and samples: Consider asking the provider to do a quick mock-up or provide a basic outline of a work plan.
6. Look for specific experience fit: You want a company with specific experience with the type of project that your company is undertaking. This is important when outsourcing complex technical projects such as software development.
7. Tie compensation to clearly defined project milestones: Define a work plan for your outsourced project, with clearly defined milestones.
8. Negotiate ownership of the work up front: Make sure that you are clear about who owns the resulting work product and any important components of that product. Make sure that the service provider understands how you intend to use the deliverables that they are agreeing to provide.
9. Don't forget about support after the project is complete: Draft a support clause that ensures you'll get continuing support from the vendor after the project is complete.
10. Get it in writing: Keep a written record of project goals, pay schedules and any changes.
11. Start small: Start with a project that is relatively small and simple in scope to give you a better idea of the provider's style and capabilities.
12. Move slowly and commit incrementally: Don't sign a five-year contract before testing performance and the relationship. Move slowly and commit gradually.
13. Get specialized and expert help: Browse a site that provides access to professionals around the world in your business's field.
Skills to Consider Outsourcing
You may be able to outsource these job functions to make your small business run more smoothly.
14. Public-relations services: Most small businesses cannot afford a full-time public-relations pro.
15. Virtual assistants: Virtual assistants, or independent entrepreneurs, provide administrative, creative or technical support by handling tasks like scheduling and filing.
16. Outsource brokers: These brokers, exchanges and networks can recruit, interview and manage the services your company needs.
17. E-commerce solutions: Hire a provider that can turn your business's Web site into a cash cow.
18. E-mail marketing: Your contractor can be thousands of miles and seven time zones away, but they'll market your business like they're in the same room.
19. Writers: Writing can be done from anywhere.
20. IT Professionals:Consultants are cheaper than hiring someone in-house.
Outsourcing Dos and Don'ts
Keep these tips in mind as your orientate yourself to outsourcing.
21. Carefully evaluate what can really be outsourced: Self-contained tasks or projects are more suited to outsourcing, while team tasks are not.
22. Consider management costs: Don't end up squandering the savings in training and oversight costs.
23. Be prepared for challenges: Even from across an ocean, personalities can clash, and schedules can take a while to sync.
24. Don't walk in blind: Get guidance in choosing a vendor and keep knowledgeable tabs on performance.
25. Consider having a staff employee(s) act as a liaison: Consider entrusting an in-house manager to oversee the outsourced help.
26. Watch out for hidden costs: Consider everything from layoff-related expenses and telecommunications costs for remote workers.
27. Know the outsourcing ABCs: Alignment: Is outsourcing the right move for your business? Business case: Have you taken all costs into consideration? Culture: Can you bridge the cultural difference between your company and the outsourcer?
Where to Find Outsourcing Candidates
Here are some sites that include professionals who can fill your small business's needs.
28. Elance Inc.: You'll find tons of freelance writers and designers on this site.
29. FreelancerNow.com: You'll get services quickly on this site.
30. Guru.com: Post individual projects on this site and have professional bid on them.
32. RentACoder: You can literally rent a Web coder from this site.
33. my pajamanation: Powered by an India-based blogger, this site offers insight into outsourcing, from events to related news from around the world.
34. ScriptLance: You can post a project on this site, which lists bids in a neatly organized list.
35. Integra Global Solutions:Outsource to this firm to expand your business.
36. GetAFreelancer.com: This site can help you find freelance programmers, Web designers and copywriters in India or any other country.
37. Kasamba: Find experts in a number of different fields on this site.
38. GoforFreelance.com: This site works for both freelancers and employees.
39. osLance.com: Post open-source projects here.
40. Sunday LLC: According to the company, "Sunday gives busy people the resources of a 24/7 personal assistant, travel agent, project assistant and tech-support pro, available via both telephone and Internet."
41. oDesk Corp.: Outsource and manage programmers, Web designers and more.
42.Get Friday: A virtual-assistant resource that undertakes any task or business that does not require a physical presence.
43. DoMyStuff.com: This site is as simple as posting a task, selecting an assistant and getting stuff done.
44. Amazon Mechanical Turk: This Amazon.com-powered site offers companies 'artificial' artificial intelligence.
45. craigslist inc.: Post a job under "gigs" or any of the industry sections, and you can outsource work anywhere.
46. Workaholics4Hire.com: Find people 24/7 on this site people by "a team of workaholics who have a compulsive need to work at odd hours, drink too much coffee, and love meeting impossible deadlines."
47. BrickworkINDIA: Get a remote executive assistant operating from an India to do your work through email.
48. iFreelance.com: Post your project for free to receive bids from hundreds of professional service providers.
49. Agents of Value: This Webmaster staffing company specializes in finding full-time programmers, graphic designers, journalists, researchers and link builders to help your business grow.
50. Netgear Solutions: Netgear Solutions is an IT-based solution organization with a strong crew of software professionals and Web professionals.Tips for Outsourcing to a Personal Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants can do your grunt work without taking up office space.
51. Minimize the kickoff effort: Set up a single inbox where your tasks will be dropped for quick assigninment.
52. There's no such thing as too small: Even five-minute tasks can become cumbersome when they add up. Your assistant can get them done by “batching” them in meaningful ways.
53. Set up recurring tasks: You can have your virtual assistant perform tasks like keeping tabs on the blogs and newsletters of your business's fans and competitors.
54. Empower the assistant to take further action: Clearly lay out the next steps of tasks and projects.55. Revisit the to-do list:Basically, hold on to important tasks that you should do and give the support and research tasks to the virtual assistant.
Tools for Tasks and Projects
f you want to keep track of exactly what work an employee needs to do and when they must do it, check out these task organizers.
56. Backpack: Backpack is an information-management and to-do list organizer that can help your outsourced talent get the job done.
57. Wiki.com: Wiki.com features project tracking; searchable discussions; shared calendars; Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF file support; and 256-Bit SSL encryption.
58. Ta-da Lists: Ta-da Lists is the "Web's simplest and fastest to-do list maker," and even works on the iPhone.
59. CellTell: Send voiceNotes from your outsourced help from any of your phones straight to your Backpack page
60. Jott: Jott will act like your own personal assistant by supplying free voice-to-text service.
61. Campfire: Especially great for remote teams, Campfire is like instant messaging optimized for groups.
62. VIP Task Manager: VIP Task Manager lets multiple users manage tasks and access the common database.
63. Task Manager: Track personal and shared tasks, jobs and projects with Task Manager, which lets you quickly view all of the duties so you can prevent missing deadlines.
64. Excel: The Multiple Daily Tasks Excel spreadsheet assigns up to 50 tasks, shifts or clients to up to 20 employees.
65. Employee Task Chaser: Develop the execution abilities of your work team and get things done with this tool.
66. Shift Schedules: This tool lets you assign your people to daily shifts, tasks or locations in 30 minute increments.
67. Employee Project Clock: Employee Project Clock is ideal for companies that are involved in control engineering, manufacturing and automation, as well as tool-and-die shops.
68. OfficeView: This Web application includes a messaging system and software to track consultant information.
69. Personnel Organizer Deluxe: Personnel Organizer Deluxe provides an easy way to gather, organize and manage information about all consultants in your company.
70. VIP Simple To Do List: Tell your consultants what they need to get done when with VIP Simple To Do List.
71. Project Tracker: This extensive database program contains suppliers and purchase and estimation modules.
72. Employee Planner: Plan consultant work, schedules, travel, events, vacations, projects or meetings with this easy-to-use tool.
Check out these Web sites, which feature time sheets and scheduling software for overseas employees.
73. Atlas Business Solutions Inc.: This site features inexpensive downloads for consultant scheduling, HR needs and business plans.
74. InTime Solutions Inc.: InTime Solutions provides software downloads, as well as information and news about the automation sphere.
75. i-Staff: This site provides Web-based employee scheduling software.
76. TimeFox: Web-based time- and project-tracking tools make this site a smart place to go.
77. WorkPlace Systems: This treasure trove of business solutions and services features free downloads for workplace management.
78. Kronos Inc.: Choose from a host of time and scheduling software on this site.
79. Celayix Inc.: Scheduling and attendance solutions are available on this site.
80. WorkBuddy Solutions Pyt. Ltd.: WorkBuddy Solutions is your pal for automated workforce-management solutions.
81. Valiant Solutions Inc.: According to the company's Web site, "Valiant brings Web-enabled, real-time automation through a centralized database to every phase of your workforce management lifecycle."
82. AceProject: This site provides project-management tools, Web-based time sheets and free time-sheet software.
83. Personnel Scheduling Software: You can choose from a plethora of scheduling software on this site.
84. Michael Greer's Project Management Links: Michael has taken it upon himself to post dozens of project- management tools on his site.
85. Advanced Time Reports: This whole Web site devoted to time report software is a must-see.
86. Microsoft Office Project 2007: This site gives you the lowdown on Microsoft Office Project 2007 software.
87. Basecamp: Set up headquarters at Basecamp, which lets you log hours and keep track of projects.
88. activeCollab: This site's motto is "Eliminate Stress. Manage Success."
These sites offer information about the Indian market and can help you navigate the outsourcing realm.
89. U.S. Department of State Background Note: The Bureau of South Asian Affairs provides information on India’s geography, people, economy and relations with the U.S.
90. The Outsourcing Weblog: Stay on the up-and-up on outsourcing news from around the globe.
91. Doing Business in India: Find information here on investing in India, the country’s economic policy, government and more.
92. Doing Business in India: A Cultural Perspective: Read up on cultural differences between the U.S. and India.
93. Outsourcing to India: Get your legal, logistical and practical questions about doing business in India answered.
94. Country Information About India: Read through reports, surveys, papers, publications, news and more information about India.
95. A Buyer's Guide to Offshore Outsourcing: Browse a worldwide comparison of prices, risks and other factors you should consider before outsourcing overseas.
96. Center for Global Outsourcing: For $85 per year, you’ll get resources that underscore the benefits of global outsourcing to businesses.
97. Current Realities in Global IT initiatives: This research, conducted by Zinnov Management Consulting, looks at the issues associated with offshore IT initiatives.
98. Outsourcing FAQ: Get all of your outsourcing questions at this Everest Partners LP-sponsored site.
99. Outsourcing Center: Read white papers, articles and research about outsourcing.
100. Offshore Outsourcing: Making It Work: InformIT, a Pearson Education Informant subsidiary, provides you with eight points to consider before moving business operations offshore.
By keeping costs low and intensely evaluating the potential and the plan, you can outsource to help your small business thrive. In no time, your company will be competing with the delivery capabilities of larger organizations, but you'll still be your own boss.