Learning how to manage an outsourced team may sound as difficult as raising your children while they live in another country. But when done correctly, managing outsourced providers can offer tremendous benefits and advantages to your business.
If you’re new to outsourcing, or are contemplating the idea, you’ll soon find that there is a learning curve to this strategy. At the same time, it could also dramatically improve your company’s productivity and save you money. Once you have gone through the hiring process and found a provider you like, it will be important for you to know how to properly manage them.
To make sure you are up to speed, this article will go over important tactics such as:
- Effectively communicating with any outsourced employees or managers.
- Advising them of your goals and vision.
- Ensuring everyone is on the same page.
- Choosing useful project management software.
- Having occasional face-to-face interaction.
- Keeping time zones in mind.
- Getting to know your outsourced company.
- Maintaining high levels of security.
Devising an efficient communication strategy will be one of the first things you need to do once you have hired a team. Involve both your in-house employees and your outsourced group to gain insight into the ways they best communicate. As you receive suggestions, put together the most common methods and use them.
When managing outsourced employees, be openly transparent and concise in your communications to confirm they fully understand your comments. By discerning the purpose and desired outcome of the communication before you send it, you’ll see much fewer misunderstandings in day-to-day operations. To make this easier, there are numerous tools out there available to help you.
Use Effective Project Management Software
One of the tools to look into is a quality project management app. This software is designed with the intention of making projects simpler and keeping them organized. They allow users to add, update, and monitor tasks, so nothing ever gets missed.
Both your team and your outsourced service providers will have access to project overviews, making them less likely to miss deadlines or due dates. Project management software also makes it easier to monitor milestones and goals your team is trying to achieve. Many of them also integrate other tools which simplify the process of sharing and reporting on daily, weekly, or monthly progress.
Discuss Your Goals
Setting goals is crucial to the success of any business in any industry. Without them, there is no purpose throughout the work day. Putting together a strategic plan, including your company’s vision, values, and goals, will help everyone know what they’re working toward.
But writing down and sharing these goals with your outsourced team typically isn’t enough. While you could easily just type them up and send them over, it is vital to have repeat conversations about these objectives. This will help ensure every action taken by both sides will move everybody one step closer to reaching them.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
This suggestion can be taken both figuratively for communication and literally for documentation. As we’ve already mentioned the importance of communication, it’s time to talk about being on the same page in a more literal sense. Once you have begun managing an outsourced team, you will need to provide access to any necessary documents and information for them to be successful.
We’re lucky enough to live in a digital world where there is little to no need for paper files anymore. Use software like Google Drive or Dropbox to share documents, spreadsheets, and other forms everyone needs to access. These are perfect programs to keep everyone in the loop and up-to-date.
Defend Your Brand
While you should do everything in your power to find a dependable and trustworthy outsourcing company, you should still also take all the necessary security precautions. Confidential information about your business must be protected and preserved. If there are any sensitive documents you must share with your outsourced group, set preventative measures in place to avoid the distribution of that information.
Before hiring someone, do your due diligence to find reviews and testimonials from other companies within your industry regarding their services and security. Whenever starting a contract with a new team, have them sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) to keep them legally bound to keep your business details secure.
Depending on where you outsource services to, it may not be the easiest thing to skip over to their office and have a quick chat. Whether they are in another state or another country, it’s possible you will never actually see your outsourced team in person. But once again, the digital age comes to the rescue with alternatives for a potentially pricey travel expense.
Instead of hopping on a plane to get some face-to-face time when managing outsourced service providers, simply hop on Skype, Google Hangouts, or Slack to speak with your team via video chat. These interactions can help you stay connected and promote better business relationships.
Many of us have likely heard the popular quote from The Godfather where Al Pacino’s character says, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” If you or anyone in your office has this mindset, it would serve you well to get rid of these thoughts immediately. There are very few things about business that aren’t personal.
Especially when managing outsourced employees, it will be important to establish personal connections to strengthen the overall business relationship between the two parties. While you should always maintain professionalism, it can pay major dividends to show your outsourced group compassion, respect, and genuine interest in their lives. The easiest thing you can do is embrace the golden rule and treat them how you want to be treated in return.
Be Aware and Respectful of Time Zones
It can be an easy thing to forget that some of the people you work with may be in a different time zone. This can cause issues on many different levels, ranging from missed deadlines to miscommunications. You and your team should always be aware of the time difference between where you’re located and where your outsourcing providers reside.
The importance of communication comes up again in these situations. Whenever scheduling tasks, due dates, and meetings, be respectful of their time and make sure it works for them. Make an exerted effort to be mindful of their time as much as your own.
More About Managing an Outsourced Team
If you’re looking to outsource some of your work, Ukraine has become an IT outsourcing powerhouse by effectively working with managers on these tactics. With higher education being a major priority there, they are well versed in many facets of business. English is also becoming a more common second and even first language in Ukraine, making communication and collaboration much easier.
Let’s finish up with a quick review of the best practices when managing your outsourced team:
- Develop a communication strategy that works for you and the service provider.
- Find and use project management software to boost productivity.
- Identify, share, and frequently revisit goals.
- Distribute access to any necessary document to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Defend your brand by using confidentiality agreements as needed.
- Get some face time with your outsourced group by reaching out via Skype and other video chat services.
- Make business a bit more personal by getting to know the people you hired.
- Be mindful of their time zone and adjust your workloads accordingly.