10 Tips for Stress-Free Outsourcing

  • AUTHOR: Stacy Karacostas
  • DATE: 12/7/2011

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have far more to do than you can possibly ever get done. That means if you want to keep growing your business (or want more time for a personal life) you have to get some help.    

Thankfully, these days you don’t have to spend the time and money hiring full-time, in-house employees. Instead you can outsource specific projects or ongoing basis to any number of virtual service providers.   

This can be wonderfully effective – as long as you know how to communicate your needs clearly. Because if you don’t, you’re going to end up spending far too much money and not getting what you needed when you needed it.

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To help you have a successful outsourcing experience, below is a list of 10 practical tips that make the process smooth and easy…

1. Create how-to process documents and/or checklists for all recurring tasks in your business.

Having everything documented makes it much easier to outsource those tasks virtually, or even hand them off to an employee or partner. The easiest way to do this is to create these as you do the tasks. The best part is, you only have to create these docs once, versus having to do the task yourself over and over again.

2. Always include a project title in your requests that is clear and descriptive.

This makes it easy to keep your tasks organized at both ends. If you put “New Task” or something generic in the title or subject line the item can get lost. Plus you’ll waste time trying to find the right message again later.

3. Put your due date in the title or subject line, as well as in the body of the document.

This is VERY important! Neglect this small detail and the chance of you getting your task completed on time goes way down.

4. Start any task request with a short overview of what you’re trying to accomplish.

If the person you’re outsourcing to understands the big picture, it’s easier for them to do tasks correctly, make decisions, and offer suggestions. But keep it short. One or two sentences should do the trick.

5. Use bullets or numbered lists of steps.

Never assume someone knows how you want things done. Detail out each step or specific task you need done in order to complete your project.

6. Send each task or project in a different email or request.

Never submit two completely different projects in one request (or email) or you risk confusion and projects falling through the cracks.

7. Be an active project manager.

Outsourcing doesn’t mean that once you hand something off your job is completely done. Ultimately, you’re responsible for making sure everything is taken care of as you requested. So review their work regularly and communicate any needed changes until tasks are done the way you want.

8. Specify a maximum number of hours or dollars.

This keeps you from getting handed an unexpectedly large bill.

9. Set expectations about how and when you expect reports or updates.

Always request a read receipt or reply when they receive a request and a message upon completion of a task or project. If your project is large, split it into parts or phases and ask for updates when each phase is complete.

10. Some things require a phone call.

While it’s best to submit project and task requests in writing for tracking purposes, sometimes it helps to talk over the details.

Remember, even though you’re paying them to work for you it’s always good to say "please" and "thank you". And to compliment someone on a job well done. It’s easy to feel impersonal when you work with folks virtually, and forget to let them know you appreciate their hard work.

The bottom line is…never assume anything. And never write up project or task requests in a rush. Because the more detailed, specific and accurate you are, the happier you’ll be with the end result.

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