Posted on February 26th, 2010 in Advice, Customers, PLR, Simple Cash Blog, Twitter | 2 Comments »
I’m giving you 12 amazing tips on outsourcing. These are the most important things that you need to know right now. This is advice you can take to the bank.
For the last 18 months, I’ve gone absolutely crazy with outsourcing. I make a huge investment in outsourcing every single month. If you’re serious about your online business, you must do the same.
Let’s jump into my 12 outsourcing tips:
First, you need to first filter people based on quality. There are many people available at many price points but quality can be harder to find. So, seek out people with strong skills and then start filtering on price. You can always negotiate prices lower by putting people in competition with each other. And, you can drive prices down by letting them know that you expect a quantity discount. Buy in bulk.
Second, you need to use outsourcing to augment your strengths. Just because you are good at something, don’t think you’re absolutely on top of your game. It never hurts to get outside advice. A good example is this: Get someone else to do tedious research on a topic, then use that report to clarify your ideas and your thinking. This is pure magic.
Third, seek to eliminate or reduce redundant tasks. Have someone else handle the routine tasks, even if you like those tasks. A good example is posting blog entries. There’s no reason you need to be in the blog updating business. Sure, you might write the content, but have someone else find a good image, develop the tags, choose the title, select the category and so on. For a few bucks you can get some real talent to handle this routine task.
Fourth, you really need a good project tracking system or the management of your workers will become your new job. Do you really want to spend hours and hours being a manager? Do yourself a favor and find smart ways to handle outsourced work and outsourced workers. Have smart systems in place. Get daily updates and ask for exception reports. Make it simple. Make it clean. But, don’t think for a minute these folks will manage themselves. Find a way to stay on top… with minimal effort.
Fifth, you should seek to build longer term relationships with workers. The cost of training is very high, both in terms of money and time. Especially time! So, try to find quality workers right out of the gate. This will absolutely drive higher quality. Also, as time goes on, you’ll become a top customer. That means better pricing, faster response time and higher quality from the same workers.
Sixth, always seek out people who pay attention to the details. I learned this one the hard way. I thought I should get more people who balanced operations and strategy. However, I operate quite differently now. You need to find people who are great at operations and execution. You want people who are detail oriented or downright anal about their work. I’d rather have someone obsess over quality and deadlines than coming up with the next big idea or fancy pants strategy. I can do that well enough, thank you very much.
Seventh, you must manage the basics first: requirements, ownership, timeframe, expectations. Don’t try to manage entire systems and don’t try to manage a vision, at least not a first. Instead, stick to the essentials and getting the job done. Manage outputs and delivery. Manage deliverables first and then time. This will keep your project on track at a reasonable cost. The greater you can focus on the details for your workers when they start, the great your return on investment and profits. Trust me on this.
Eighth, be prepared to do more work in the short term. This is because you will want to invest in training. If you think you can simply hand over work without some hand holding, you will be frustrated. You might even fail. Either way, without an upfront investment in time and energy, you want maximize your outsourcing opportunities. If you do this right, you’ll be extremely happy in the long run. I’ve learned this the hard way… but now I’m happy as a clam!
Ninth, you should always provide concrete, actionable advice. Don’t be vague. Don’t expect other people to read your mind. This is especially true if you’re only using email to communicate with your outsourcing team. If they can’t see you and hear you, they simply will not understand the nuances and ultra small details that really matter to you. So, buckle down and get as specific as possible, unless you’re willing to iterate several times. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for rework. If you’re not at least 90% happy, then ask for more work to be done. Ask for higher quality. But, be sure to be concrete.
Tenth, don’t throw “it” over the wall and expect miracles. In terms of an operational mode, it is smart to plan for several iterations and cycles. Instead of giving one date for a final product, ask for 2-3 checkpoints or updates along the way. Do this even with small projects that just take a few days. Ask for daily updates. Important: Ask to literally see the work. Get screenshots, samples and other tangibles. This will drive your team to deliver on time but it also gives you peace of mind and more material to manage them. Do this to work with your team vs. trying to just manage their outputs.
Eleventh, develop systems and templates and examples. If you don’t have these materials, it’s time to get to work. You want to have tools and processes in place for others to use and exploit. Rather than trying to explain what you want done, set up a mini “factory” that allows your team to crank out high quality without a ton of thinking. You want to focus on work and execution, not puzzle solving and mind reading. Be smart about developing those systems and you’ll make a killing. This is golden advice.
Lastly, I strongly encourage you to ask your workers for advice on increasing efficiency. Since they are doing tasks over and over again, they will develop shortcuts. It’s human nature. Listen to your team and they will help you drive up profits. They will become more “invested” in you and your business. Plus, if they create a breakthrough, you can move them to a zone of higher profit. That is, for the same amount of effort, they can help you make more money!
Here’s a nice summary of my points above. This is your cheat sheet. It’s your checklist…
1. Go for quality first and price second. I’m talking about filtering people.
2. Seek to augment your strengths (e.g., research to feed your thinking)
3. Seek to get rid of your redundant tasks (e.g., posting content to your blog)
4. You need a good tracking system or management of workers is your new job
5. Seek to build longer term relationships; higher quality and preference
6. Always seek out people who pay attention to the details; operations vs. strategy
7. Manage the basics first: requirements, ownership, timeframe, expectations
8. Be prepared to do more work in the short term; invest in training
9. Always provide concrete, actionable advice; don’t be afraid to ask for rework
10. Don’t throw it over the wall; iterations and cycles; work with your team
11. If you don’t have systems and templates and examples, get to work
12. Always, always, always ask your workers for advice on increasing efficiency
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And finally… I think you would agree that these are some of the best tips on outsourcing you’ve ever seen. I would really appreciate comments. But more importantly, please Twitter about this blog entry and post to your Facebook page. Or, link to this posting from your own blog. It would really mean a lot to me.