Original Article by Sebastian Duncan for Real Business, Telling the truth about SME life today.
As a business owner, you may find yourself in need of outsourcing work from time to time. When this happens, it’s important to know how to write a brief that will give the person or team you’re outsourcing to all the information they need to get the job done right.
In this article, we’ll share some tips on how to do just that, as well as answering some of the most commonly asked questions about outsourcing.
What is outsourcing? As a business owner, it’s impossible to do everything yourself. Stretch yourself too thin and you’re likely to burn out. So, there are some tasks where you simply require some help.
Hiring employees is a great option for long term tasks such as marketing, sales or distribution. But when it’s a one off project or something that requires specialist staff, sometimes you need to look to outsourcing. Outsourcing is the practice of contracting a third party to take on certain tasks or projects on behalf of your business. This could be anything from designing a logo, coding software, writing copy or even building a website.
Many businesses use outsourcing as a way to save time, cost and resources. It’s also a great way to make use of specialist skills that you might not have within your organization.
When should you outsource work? It can be hard to know when it’s the right time for you to start outsourcing work. The general rule of thumb is if a task is taking up too much of your time, or requires skills that you don’t have within your organization, then it’s probably worth outsourcing.
Here are some of the top reasons you should consider outsourcing.
1. When you’re overwhelmed If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the work you have to do, it may be time to outsource some of it. Trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout, so it’s important to delegate tasks when you start to feel overwhelmed. 2. When you don’t have the skills within your organization If you don’t have the skills within your organization for the project, outsourcing can be an effective way of getting what you need. It’s a great way to access specialist skills without having to hire extra staff. 3. When the project is time-consuming If the task involves large amounts of data entry or manual labour, it can be worthwhile outsourcing it so that you can focus on other parts of your business. And, if you outsource to an expert in the field, they’re likely to be able to perform the task faster because it’s their speciality. 4. When you need to reduce costs In some cases, outsourcing work can actually save you money. For example, if you hire a virtual assistant to do tasks like scheduling appointments and sending emails, you’ll save money on things like office space and equipment.
How to find the right contractor to work with your business
So, you’ve decided that outsourcing is right for your business. But how do you go about choosing the right contractor to work on your project?
We’ve put together an easy guide to follow to find the right contractor for your business.
1. Do your research When you are looking for a contractor to work with your business, it is important to do your research. You should take the time to read online reviews and speak to other businesses that have worked with the contractor in the past. This will help you to get an idea of their quality of work and whether or not they are a good fit for your business.
2. Get a written quote Once you have found a few potential contractors, it is important to get a written quote from each one. This quote should include an estimate of the cost of the project as well as a timeline for completion. It is important to make sure that you understand all of the terms of the quote before you agree to work with any contractor.
3. Ask for references Another important step in finding the right contractor is to ask for references. You should contact the references that the contractor provides and ask them about their experience working with the contractor. This will give you a better idea of what it is like to work with the contractor and whether or not they are likely to meet your expectations.
4. Read the contract carefully Before you sign any contract with a contractor, it is important to read it carefully. You should make sure that you understand all of the terms and conditions of the contract before you agree to anything. Once you have signed the contract, be sure to keep a copy in a safe place so that you can refer back to it if there are any problems down the road.
5. Work with a reputable contractor One of the most important things to look for when finding a contractor is reputation. You should try to find a contractor who has a good reputation in the industry and who has been in business for several years. A reputable contractor will be more likely to provide quality work and meet your deadlines than one who is just starting out. How to write an outsourcing brief Writing an effective brief is key when it comes to successful outsourcing. A well-written brief will act as a roadmap of the project which should help ensure that all expectations are met by both parties. Here’s what you need to include in your outsourcing brief:
1. Project description The first step in writing an effective outsourcing brief is to provide a clear and concise description of the project. This should include details such as the scope, timeline, objectives, the deliverables required and any other relevant information that will help your contractor understand what needs to be done.
2. Expectations and requirements The next step is to clearly outline your expectations and requirements for the project. This should include any specific skills or qualifications that you expect from the contractor as well as any other goals that need to be met. 3. Deadlines It’s also important to set out clear deadlines for when the project needs to be completed by. Make sure that these deadlines are reasonable and that you communicate them to your contractor in advance. This will help ensure that the project is completed on time. 4. Company information You’ll also need to tell the contractor anything that they need to know about your business. This could include your branding guidelines, information about your target market or any other relevant details that they need to be aware of. 5. Contact information You should make sure to include your contact information so that the contractor can get in touch with you if they have any questions or concerns. This will help ensure that there are no delays in the project due to miscommunication. 6. Payment schedule Finally, it’s important to set out the payment schedule for the project. This should include when payments are due and how much they will be for each milestone or deliverable. Make sure that you communicate this clearly to your contractor so that there is no confusion throughout the project. Following these steps when writing your outsourcing brief will help ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and when, which should result in a successful project.
Pros and cons of outsourcing When you’re considering outsourcing a project to a contractor, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of doing so. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages that come with outsourcing: Pros • Access to specialized skills – Outsourcing allows you to access the expertise and skills of experienced professionals. This can be especially helpful if you don’t have the resources or budget to hire a full-time employee. • Cost savings – Outsourcing can be more cost-effective than hiring in-house staff, as you don’t need to pay for additional benefits or overhead costs. • Increased efficiency – By outsourcing your projects, you can free up time and resources that can be used elsewhere in your business. This can help to increase the efficiency of your operations. Cons • Lack of control – With outsourcing, you may not have as much control over how the project is completed. You may need to find ways to monitor progress or ask for updates from contractors regularly if needed.
• Communication issues – Working with remote teams can be challenging due to language barriers or different time zones. Be sure to find ways to effectively communicate and manage expectations with contracted workers. • Security risks – If you are working with sensitive data, there is always the risk of a breach in security when outsourcing. Make sure that you find contractors who have robust security measures in place for protecting data. Common mistakes with outsourcing – and how to avoid them Outsourcing can be an effective way to get access to specialized skills, reduce costs and increase efficiency. However, things don’t always go to plan. Here are some of the most common mistakes that businesses make when outsourcing, along with measures you can take to avoid them. 1. Unclear expectations One of the most common mistakes that businesses make when outsourcing is to not set out their expectations clearly. Without clear expectations, it can be difficult for contractors to deliver the desired results. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the scope of work and the deliverables before starting a project. Have detailed conversations with contractors about what is expected from them as well as any other goals that need to be met. 2. Poor communication When outsourcing projects, it’s important to ensure that there are clear lines of communication between the business and contractor. Without regular updates or feedback from both parties, it can be difficult to keep track of progress or resolve any issues quickly. Make sure that you set up a system for regular check-ins so that everyone is on the same page and expectations are managed. This will help to ensure that projects stay on track and are completed efficiently. 3. Not enough research Before hiring a contractor, it’s important to do your due diligence and research their experience and skills. If you don’t properly vet potential contractors, it can be difficult to assess whether they are the right fit for your project. Take the time to review portfolios or ask for references from past clients. This will help to ensure that you find the right contractor for the job. 4. Not understanding the budget When it comes to outsourcing, budgets can often change over time. It’s important to have a clear understanding of costs upfront and consider any additional fees that may occur throughout the project timeline. Before you sign a contract, be sure to review all the associated fees and make sure that they are included in your budget. This will help to prevent any surprises later down the line. 5. Focusing on price over reputation When selecting a contractor to work with, it can be tempting to focus on the lowest price. However, this isn’t always the best option as you may end up sacrificing quality and expertise. Make sure that you take the time to assess different contractors and understand their technical skills and experience. This will help to ensure that you find someone who can deliver the desired results. Is outsourcing worth it? Outsourcing can be an effective way to bring new skills into your organization, particularly for one off projects. However, it’s important to consider all the potential risks associated with outsourcing and make sure that you are taking steps to avoid any common mistakes. If you do your research and take the necessary precautions, outsourcing can be a great way to save time and money. It can also open up new opportunities for your business, allowing you to focus on the areas that are most important to you. Overall, outsourcing is often worth it if done correctly – just make sure that you understand the risks and do your due diligence before selecting any contractors. Final thoughts Outsourcing can be a great way to access specialized skills, reduce costs and increase efficiency. However, keep in mind that it may take a bit of time to find the right contractor for your project, but with thorough research and communication, you can be sure to get the best results.
By setting out clear expectations, communicating regularly with contractors and doing your research beforehand, you can avoid the common mistakes that businesses make when outsourcing. Paying attention to these details and knowing how to write a brief for outsourcing can help ensure your success and save you time, money and resources in the long run.
The key is to find a balance between cost, quality and expertise so that you can get the best value for your investment. And with a little effort, you can make outsourcing a success for your business.