Outsource HQ

Before Outsourcing: What to Prepare Before Offshoring Your Tasks

Episode Summary

Discover how to prepare for offshoring effectively in this episode of Outsource HQ. We explore the key factors to consider before offshoring and share tips for success. Learn how to define your goals, choose the right offshore partner, and manage communication. Tune in to discover how to prepare your team and organization for offshoring, including creating a clear plan and establishing communication protocols. Join us in this episode of Outsource HQ to learn what you need to prepare before offshoring your tasks and how to make it a success.

Episode Transcription

Hey there! Adam here from Outsource HQ. Today, we have an exciting episode about the prep you have to do before outsourcing your tasks.

But before we dive in, let’s have a quick recap about what outsourcing is and why it[‘s important for your business.

Simply put, outsourcing is delegating your tasks to a team outside your company, beyond your in-house employees. When your outsourced teams are from a different country, it’s called “offshoring”.

Now you may be asking “Why should I delegate tasks out of my organization? Isn’t it just more convenient to hire in-house?”

The short answer is yes, it’s more convenient. But convenience is not the only reason why you hire employees.

And there are a multitude of reasons why offshoring can be a valuable asset to your business such as:

While virtually all tasks can be delegated to people offshore, the essential tasks you want to keep in-house are highly dependent on how you want to run your business.

But offshoring is such a great way to help you in your business at even core tasks, whatever period of growth you’re in, whether you are starting up, scaling up, or even helping your enterprise. It’s now more accessible and is a staple strategy from small to large businesses.

Now, if we got your interest in offshoring your tasks, here are the things that you have to prepare.

First, you must have a target partner. What are the qualifications you want from an offshore partner? Here are some questions you might ask yourself in order to find the perfect partner:

After deciding on the criteria of your ideal outsourcing partner, you can then check for reviews, recommendations or ask fellow businesses that have worked with the specific freelancer or agency.

Once you’ve decided on the criteria and found your business partner, next is project planning. We highly recommend creating a project brief that the agency or specialist will be able to reference.

It’s a short document that details the whole task process. For example, the task is copywriting.

“The specialist will be responsible for posting social media posts on Twitter 3x times per week. Word count should be between 20 to 200 words to fit the character limit and have space for some links. Here is the link to our Twitter page. The login process will be explained during our first meeting with the partner. The posts will be collated into a Google sheet. Here’s the link. We want to create the posts in advance so we will produce content first to fill out a month’s worth of content - a total of 12 posts. Then we will schedule them to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next month. I need progress updates for the task every Friday. If you have any questions, we will address them in our first meeting.”

You’ll notice we answered almost every question that the applicant or offshoring partner would have. Even if it’s full of details, it’s still succinct. That’s why it’s called a brief. Otherwise, it will be called jeans or pants.

Anyway, since it’s a document, they can reference it during the early stages of doing the task. No need for unnecessary back and forths.

And lastly, should the process change, we can just update the document.

Now let’s go back a bit to the last part of the brief example. It’s about your communication preferences. How you want to communicate and how often. It’s best practice to have regular and constant communication with your partner. 

Most freelancers and agencies already have this protocol on lock. Proactive communication, reaching out when there are concerns, and giving timely replies. But some clients prefer lesser communication because they have so much work to do, and they just want to check the progress sometimes.

And it’s fine for partners to have that preference. “Constant” communication does not have to be every day. It can be once a month, as long as it's consistent. Decide on a communication platform you want to use, or simply be open to your specialist’s suggestions. Most laypeople don’t know Slack, for example, but it’s the best for work comms, not Skype. 

You’ll notice we use the term to refer to freelancers or agencies as “partners”. That means that what you are building, essentially, is a business relationship. And the crucial ingredient to making all relationships work is consistent communication.

Now the last thing you have to prepare is a contingency plan. I think the pandemic has made all businesses aware of the importance of contingency plans. The status quo can change in an instant so we have to be prepared.

The best way to implement a contingency plan is through a standard operating procedure or an SOP. Think of the task brief we created earlier but instead of just the details of the task, we also consider what happens before and after the task.

The SOP is structured more as a step-by-step procedure rather than a task brief which is a bit free-form.

There are 2 ways to have an SOP. You can either create it yourself or have the partner capture their processes and create it for you. The beauty of an SOP is that it can be written like a document or be captured on video with tools like Loom.

If you have an SOP, it’s then super easy to delegate the task to other people, especially if you are working with an agency. Agencies already have multiple employees for redundancy and to serve other clients.

So transferring tasks when your partner is unavailable will be seamless.

Also included in the SOP, as we’ve mentioned earlier are the things to do pre and post-task.

So pre-task; the partner can create the SOP for you. Post-task; it details what to do if unavailable, which channels to reach out should the partner be unavailable, the repercussions if a task was missed, and other important details.

If the partner is working on a production task, like creating content it’s also a good practice to have a pipeline ready. Like the example we had on the brief, they create content in advance so they have a month of content ready should anything happen to the partner.

Okay, so let’s wrap it up.

To recap, there are 4 things that you need to prepare before offshoring: Number 1: knowing the offshoring partner you want. Number 2: knowing exactly what you need done and putting it all in your brief. Number 3: Prepping for communication and choosing your communication platform. Number 4 is a contingency plan through a work funnel and an SOP.

Before we go, the things that we talked about here are focused on offshoring. Working with people from overseas. 

However, you also have the option to go onshore or even nearshore. Meaning you can work outsource work within your country or with neighboring countries.

Stay tuned for our next episode for that. We’ll talk about whether you outsource to near or far countries.

I hope that you learned something in this episode of Outsourced HQ - the fun and quick way to learn about outsourcing.

Until next time!