Outsourcing step-by-step

1. Identify the best approach to outsourcing by understanding your motives

Before you begin looking into outsourcing, it’s important to identifyyour approach. Are you looking to get simple work off your hands, save on costs or hire a specialist to sort out a specific area of your business?

While you can jump right into searching for talent, it helps if you know what your goals are and how much would make sense to invest. The last thing you want to do is waste money simply because you had undefined expectations.

Next, decide on an hourly rate or a set project rate. Setting a fixed price for a project ensures you won’t have to worry about going over budget your first time outsourcing.

If you’re having trouble finding a round number, try breaking down your task into hours and then setting an hourly price that you can then add up.

While fixed project prices are good, don’t fear hourly rates!

Hourly rates can be great for outsourced teams working in customer service or for an individual who helps with the books a few hours a week.

Just make sure to monitor the hours worked using trusted time tracking software like Hubstaff to ensure that you’re only paying freelancers when they’re working.

2. Clarify project specifications and expectations

Once you know why you’re outsourcing and what your approach will be, it’s time to make that into project specifications and defined expectations.

One of the first things that you likely already have an insight into from step one is the length of the project. If you’re looking to outsource bookkeeping, for instance, it’s likely to be a long-term contract.

However, if it’s a one-time project, such as web design, it’s a good idea to have a deadline by when you’d like the project completed. Maybe you’re attending an event and would like your website up by then. Be sure to clarify these deadlines, and the importance of them, to any contractors.

In some situations, you’re doing things without any time pressures. However, it’s still a good idea to come up with some sort of deadline to avoid the project dragging along for a long time.

Once you have your deadlines and timelines set, you will need to clarify the exact expectations from the freelancer or company you will work with.

Set expectations upfront

If you’re looking for a bookkeeper because you don’t want to do anything whatsoever with bookkeeping, it might mean going for a person that has done work in your industry before. That way, they don’t bother you asking how to classify types of expenses.

This also means clarifying and explaining to the bookkeeper that you won’t be inputting any bills or invoices in any sort of software, but rather forward them to an email address or similar.

You should try to be as specific as you can be to ensure onboarding is seamless and effective.

On the other hand, sometimes you will want to be involved in the project. Say you’re looking for a graphic designer to design a logo and want to be involved in the process as much as you can.

It would be important then to specify that you will want revisions of the work and there will be back and forth between you and the contractor.

Many freelancers include a number of revisions in the estimate, so make sure you discuss this upfront.

Lastly, be sure to specify exact deliverables. This is especially important for fixed cost projects. Specify what exactly you’re paying for and what the contractor will have to deliver to conclude the project.

3. Where to find outsourced talent

Once you know what you need and why you need it and have the details specified, you’re ready for finding the person or company you will work with.

As you’d expect, there is no shortage of places to find outsourced talent. Below are just a few of the many options available:

  • Hubstaff Talent: A completely free talent platform for job seekers and prospective employers. Find hourly talent from a range of industries as well as full-time remote staff. There are no fees for posting jobs, hiring talent, or sending payments. Just thousands of talented professionals with clearly stated expertise and rates for you to browse.
  • Upwork: This platform is another resource to find all manner of freelancers. Here you can hire individuals or teams and pay on an hourly or per project basis. Vetting candidates is made easy as each applicant’s profile has a star rating (candidates with a rating of 4.5 or above are highly recommended) along with information on total Upwork hours worked, and profile history.
  • Outsourcely: Outsourcely is also another platform to easily find and connect with talent. It’s easy to find, hire, and work with reliable, vetted remote workers from over 130 countries. This is great for employers who are looking to build sustainable working relationships and dedicated remote teams. How does Outsourcely work? Search remote workers by skill or by posting a job and contact candidates immediately using real-time private chat, browser to browser video and voice calling, video and voice messaging or just regular email. This makes hiring fast and easy.
  • Fiverr: This is the perfect place for those looking to outsource on a budget. As its name suggests, jobs start at just $5. You can browse from jobs offered or post your own.
  • If you want a local service because the person will need to travel to your office for some parts of the work, or because you want to support the local economy, you can still use any of the internet platforms and just specify the location of the freelancer. Alternatively, a Google search might do it and there’s always the option of a local online jobs board or big classifieds sites like Craigslist.

There are many sites and services out there, so take your time and select the one that’s right for you.

4. Write a good job or project description

The job description is an opportunity to not just describe the job details and set expectations, but also weed out unqualified candidates by showing high expectations from the start.

Let’s imagine that you need someone to write blog posts, and you decide to look for them on popular freelance websites or job boards. We will compare two job posts so that you can see the difference between an effective and ineffective job post.

An ineffective job post

“I am looking for someone to write blog posts for my fitness blog at least twice a week. The blog posts need to be informative and your English needs to be good.”

An effective job post

“I am looking for a professional writer who will write at least two blog posts weekly for my fitness blog. I will only accept native English speakers. You must have a portfolio so that I can check out your previous work.

This is going to be a long-term job, so applicants will be tested for competence. The client will expect discipline, organization, and courtesy. Please do not apply for this job if you don’t think you can meet these standards. Thank you!”

Guess which job post is going to attract highly qualified article writers? The ineffective job post will attract too many low-skilled contractors that hope to land any kind of job.

This is important, as manually screening all the applications to weed out low-skilled applicants from the developing nations can cost you a lot of time.

5. Interview and test your candidates

Once you’ve shortlisted some potential candidates, don’t skip the process of checking their references, portfolios, giving test projects, and interviewing them.

The interview doesn’t have to be as formal as for a job interview, the goal here is for you to ask any questions or doubts you might have with outsourcing to this specific person.

For them, it’s a chance to ask any questions on the project. A good specialist in their field will almost certainly have some.

A good approach is to issue a test to all candidates before you hire them. This can be as simple as writing a few lines of code or a paragraph describing your website.

It may sound unnecessary, but a simple test can help weed out bad candidates or ones who won’t be a good fit. Just make sure to compensate applicants for their time so that you’re not requesting free work.

Lastly, if you offer low rates don’t expect amazing work. While the lowest offer may not always be the worst, don’t just pick a freelancer or company solely because they’re the cheapest.

6. Manage and operate your outsourced team members

Once you have found your outsourced employee, set up regular chats with them over Skype or have weekly email check-ins to ensure that everything is running smoothly and on schedule.

If you don’t want to be managing your outsourced team members, that’s fine. Just be sure that you specify that in the second step of this list, and look for clear signs of reliability in the interviewing process.

A good and reliable outsourced employee will find it instinctive to regularly update you on the work done and any setbacks and generally keep you in the loop on everything. Just don’t expect this from the cheapest option.

When outsourcing, it’s always a good idea to implement a time tracking solution of some sort to keep an eye on the costs and how freelancers are spending the time.

Hubstaff’s time tracking solution provides you with a detailed overview of the time spent, how much projects end up costing you and you can also opt to take screenshots of your employee.

Hubstaff also makes it easy for employees to send you a detailed invoice and for you to make the payments. If your outsourced employees are going to be working with you long-term, the built-in project management and task tracking tool will come in super handy. It lets you add a task, assign it to a team member, and track progress as well as time spent on the task.

Other than Hubstaff, don’t hesitate to implement and use online tools to manage the people you outsource the work to.

Here’s a good guide to online collaboration tools to use for remote teams.

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