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6 outsourcing tips for small businesses

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | June 23, 2016
Experts discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing and what business owners should consider when thinking about outsourcing and choosing a vendor.

Also, be mindful that “the process of selecting a partner may take some time,” she says. “Dig deep on capabilities. Ask a trusted advisor, [colleague and/or fellow business owner] what they know about the organization [and] check out [the company’s] social media platforms and request references.” While this will take time, it’s worth it as “the right company will offer increased efficiencies and allow you to focus on your business objectives,” she says.

“Seek a provider that is a good fit philosophically with your organization and that will work with you as a true partner,” adds Andy Childs, vice president of marketing, Paychex. And “pay close attention to their service model. Ensure that [the] provider excels at personalized, responsive customer service. The provider should offer a single point of contact and/or a knowledgeable, service-oriented representative, accessible at any time your business needs support.”

“The partner should understand the client's business, mission and objectives,” says Johnson. “The client should feel that its account is important to the partner and that the partner has adequate bandwidth to properly service the account.”

4. Make sure you have someone internally who can manage the relationship full-time. “It’s critical to understand that outsourcing requires oversight,” says Michael Beck, head of growth and marketing, Earth Class Mail. Businesses considering outsourcing need someone in house who can be the point person, who can provide “detailed, explicit instructions” and be available to answer questions and sign off on things, so projects stay on track.

“Committing to a weekly or monthly schedule of meetings to review and sign off on items is [also] a must,” says Shah.

5. Maintain control/ownership of data. “Web and mobile development can easily be outsourced, [for example,] but…don't allow all of your code or product to be 100 percent controlled by an overseas [or third party] company,” says Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder & president, Geeks Chicago. “If something goes wrong, you'll have no control over your product. You could also lose your code [or your website] and have a very hard time regaining control.”

“Get a guaranteed SLA [service-level agreement] and determine how performance and customer satisfaction will be measured and monitored,” says Johnson. “There should [also] be a predetermined transition process in the event the agreement is terminated, and comprehensive documentation should be maintained. The client should consider if it will have ownership of the tools and processes being used to support the environment.”

6. Be vigilant about the security of your data – and outsourcer. Be extra careful about outsourcing “anything related to the security of your website or product,” says Tuchscherer. “If something is built incorrectly and you have a breach, you don't want to risk client or customer data. In the end, you are responsible for what happens, even if [an outside] company made an error. This can open you up to a legal nightmare, and cost the company dearly.”

So, again, be sure to vet third-parties to ensure that they are in compliance with industry best practices and will keep your data safe and secure.

 

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