Tips to maintain workflow consistency for small business outsourcing
July 31, 2019
Today, outsourcing is common because it’s so easy to connect with external agencies and freelancers. With modern technology, potential talent can be researched, compared, onboarded, and paid internationally.
Outsourcing has many distinct benefits for small businesses. But even with these efficiencies, one of the biggest concerns of outsourcing is that you sacrifice control. By putting the power in the hands of an outsourcing agency, you risk losing consistency in workflow and quality due to the gap in management and culture.
At least, that’s a fear of many small business owners.
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Your small business wants to be known for two or three unique strengths. They should be associated with your name. That said, consistent quality is necessary. But what’s more, to get consistent quality, your business needs a steady workflow.
The reality is that outsourcing agencies have similar reputations to maintain. They specialize in working with your team and blending efforts. At least, they should. Check out our other articles for an outsourcing definition and to understand the difference between outsourcing vs offshoring.
Workflow is the ability for your team to work together in order to produce. It’s an ongoing, consistent, steady stream. When you outsource, you dissociate from certain tasks (thankfully). But how can you avoid interrupting your in-house and outsourced workflow?
Let’s walk through a few outsourcing options that suffer and ways to get around them.
Coordinating with your outsourcing partner
Getting your outsourced partnerships on the same boat is harder than it sounds. If you’re considering your options among various outsourcing companies, or just looking to hire freelance workers for specific tasks, you’ve probably been doing your research. (If not, click here.)
Additionally, when balancing your contract workers and your in-house team, it’s your responsibility to do so legally. While your small business’ workflow relies on bridging the gap between employees and contractors, it can be tricky not to cross the line. Keep your team and partners working steadily and efficiently without interruption by doing your research.
Don’t skip introductions
Agencies and freelancers are tricky. They’re valuable because they are uniquely themselves, but also because they can morph with their clients’ brands.
That said, your brand should not be overlooked. If your brand’s climate and culture aren’t maintained, the consistency of your business may be interrupted. That means less effective brand recognition, which, in the long run, means you’ll be doing more work to make up for it.
Get your partners in the loop with who and what your business is, including what they can expect to deal with as partners and what they’re expected to output. If hiring an outsourcing agency that will interact with your clients, this relationship will need more focus.
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Set communication standards
Schedule weekly update meetings between your team and a representative from the outsourced partner. Your small business wears the pants so it’s important to lay out the expectations early on and frequently. Request updates on tasks. Google Calendar can help with scheduling and reminders.
Share analytics between your team and the partner to help everyone understand their roles, progress, and gray areas to focus on. Discuss the implications or changes that such analytics bring to the work and encourage any questions.
Outsourcing generally means you miss out on face-to-face. Luckily, Slack and Asana are two popular workflow tools to help with communication within and across teams. Their platforms aren’t only helpful, they’re also easy to integrate within your existing processes. Zoom and Google Hangouts chat and video options allow you to voice your thoughts effectively.
When assigning or outlining tasks, be descriptive and thorough. Include examples, the big picture goal, and suggestions on what to avoid. Then, reiterate to summarize. If you want it done right, you’ll need to ensure you’re communicating effectively. The majority of project errors come from poor communication.
Stick to deadlines
When deadlines are neglected or start to seem less concrete, they won’t don’t get better. Setting firm deadlines and expectations helps your teams collaborate effectively. If your in-house team is set back because of late outsourcing tasks, you need to get to the bottom of the issue.
That’s where communication comes in. If a deadline is approaching quickly, encourage communication about progress so your team and partners can adjust. Nothing should be past due without prior knowledge.
If you’re wondering how to start outsourcing your small business needs, the Small Business Administration can help. The SBA offers training to small businesses hoping to connect with contractors, and understand the federal government’s programs for contracting in terms of small business grants and loans. Additionally, you can check out our resources for small businesses.
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Your small business’ workflow consistency doesn’t have to suffer with outsourcing. Invest in the proper tools and keep your communication lines strong. Your business relationships will thank you for it.