Entrepreneurs and small entrepreneurs are always looking for creative ways to achieve more business goals for less money. One of the strategies that will help you save time, money, and frustration when you start and build your business is to outsource as much work as possible to qualified but profitable external service providers.
Working with Elance Online – an internet platform that helps small businesses outsource almost any type of project – we’ve talked to dozens of buyers who have successfully commissioned projects as diverse as administrative support, business strategy, graphic design, website design and development, writing and even software development.
When talking to buyers who have mastered the art of effectively managing external service providers, the same themes appear over and over again. We have given their advice to the following “10 best practices” to work with external service providers. Following these recommendations can help you make the most of your relationships with external suppliers or contractors – whether you use the network to find service providers or request and evaluate offers from suppliers in an “old fashioned” way.
How to define and schedule of your project
This may seem obvious, but any successful outsourcing of a project always begins with a clear statement of what you hope to achieve. Define your design requirements in advance. Service providers need accurate, complete information to provide you with realistic ideas and a reasonable price. Specify the specific products that you expect to provide from the supplier.
Provide salespeople with as much information as possible about what is needed and how you need the work done. Schedule requirements should also be clearly and realistically defined – project schedules can have a huge impact on project costs.
Review the service provider as if you were hiring a full-time employee
When you evaluate suggestions from service providers, don’t be afraid to ask questions like hiring a full-time employee, choosing a supplier is a very subjective experience. Check their testimonials and ask for the opinions of other clients who have used their services. Get involved in the dialogue – if you have any concerns about the specific capabilities of the supplier, send your comments. Don’t stop there and hope for the best.
Look for the right match for your experience
It is best for the selected service provider to have specific experience in the type of project you are implementing. This is especially important when ordering complex technical projects, such as software development. For example, if you are looking for someone to develop an application, make sure that he has completed commercial projects on this platform for other satisfied customers. This advice also applies to other types of projects. If you need a store opening business plan, you’ll get the best results if your hired consultant has verifiable experience in the retail sector.
Do not choose a seller based on price.
While this may be tempting, never opt for a price-only seller. Experienced buyers who have commissioned many projects and evaluated hundreds of proposals, almost always recommend rejecting the best and the cheapest offer.
Buyers report that their most successful projects are those in which they felt that the seller was providing a balance between good value and quality results.
Review the portfolios and samples
Check the previous work of the seller (“portfolio”) and make sure that their previous work meets your expectations regarding quality and style. If you assess the supplier’s portfolio, references, and prior experience, and are still not sure of your options, consider asking them to make a quick mockup or provide a basic work plan. A service provider who wants to win your business can present you with a rough idea so that you can better understand their approach to solving the problem.
But never cross the line between asking for a mockup and insisting that the salesman provide you with completed work “on the spec”. No qualified professional wants to work for free.
When starting cooperation with a service provider for the first time, start with a project that is relatively small and simple in scope. This will allow you to better understand the supplier’s style and capabilities before entrusting them with a “critical project”.
Linking payments to defined project milestones
Just as you should be clear about the scope of the project, make sure you define a work plan for your outsourced project with clearly defined milestones. After scheduled checkpoints, where you check the status of the project as it is completed, you can easily check that you have met the deadline and whether the final product meets your requirements. Tie the seller’s payment for these milestones.
A good guide for IT and programming projects is to pay no more than 20% to 30% of the total price of the project in advance, and the rest of the payment is granted based on completing 3 or 4 stages.
Negotiate property rights to work in advance
For any outsourced project, make sure you know who owns the resulting product and what the important ingredients of this product are.
Make sure your service provider understands how you intend to use the products you provide. For example, developing custom software for personal use is very different from developing an application that you plan to package and resell.
Don’t forget about support after the project
For technological projects, it’s a good idea to provide a warranty or support clause to ensure that you receive support from the seller after the project is completed. It is much easier to negotiate a support clause before the service provider starts work, and not after the end of the project. Specifying some free help or negotiating reduced prices for future modifications can save time, money, and headaches at a later time.
Get it in writing
During the service order, the scope of the project, results, and even the agreed price may change.
Make sure you inform the service provider explicitly of any changes to your schedule, scope, or payment and receive confirmation from them in writing that they understand and agree to the changes. Similarly, keep a record of any contract changes requested by your service provider and determine if you accept or reject these modifications. Save a copy of any email exchange you have.
You can access top-class knowledge at any time, without having to hire full-time employees. By focusing on your key competencies and hiring freelance experts for other needs, you can compete with the delivery capabilities of larger organizations while maintaining your independence.
Author- Jacklin J