The Complete Outsourcing Checklist for Small Businesses
Small business models haven’t typically included outsourcing in the past, but with the advents of technology, that is rapidly changing. Small businesses can now access third party vendors and providers that allow them to outsource tasks and processes that are too expensive to handle in-house or require a specialized level of expertise.
To begin outsourcing, a small business must take some time to make preparations and set the stage for a successful outsourcing relationship. Following is a checklist of tasks that will help a small business prepare to outsource.
Note: View this checklist as a PDF here – The Complete Outsourcing Checklist for Small Businesses
Preparing to outsource
Before you can effectively prepare to outsource, define the tasks you want to outsource and do some research to find different providers and vendors you could potentially choose from.
For example, if you’re planning to outsource call answering, you might use the search terms “top virtual receptionist features,” which would give you results like the image below.
Ask questions about the providers you’re considering to make sure you’re not overlooking a major problem. You’ll need to ask several questions or find answers to them online to accurately judge your potential outsourcing providers.
Learn more about potential providers
- How long has the company been in business?
- How is the company reviewed online?
- How does the company respond to negative reviews?
- What size is the company?
- What features or capabilities does the provider offer?
- Does the company offer flexibility, or is it strict with its plan and package options?
Once you’ve collected or found answers to these questions, you’re ready to begin narrowing down your list of potential providers to the one you’ll choose to work with. The first point of discussion or clarification should be price.
Determining the cost
- Find all relevant pricing information available online
- Determine if the price is within your budget
- Contact the provider to learn more about pricing – fine print, etc.
- If choosing a customized plan, determine and agree on pricing
- Find out the payment schedule
- Ask about associated contracts, agreements, or requirements
Now that you’ve collected all the relevant information about the different outsourcing providers you’re considering, you can choose the right provider for your small business based on what you’ve learned. After selecting the provider you’re most comfortable with, take the following steps to get started working with your outsourcing provider.
Choosing your outsourcing provider
- Which provider offered the best pricing in combination with features?
- Did one provider show exemplary customer service or indicators of good performance?
- Which provider(s) does not require you to sign a contract?
- Do any of the providers’ terms sound like red flags?
- Will any of your providers allow you to do a free trial period?
You should look for outsourcing providers that will not require you to sign a lengthy contract, that give consistent, verified information, and that offer a free trial period for you to get an adequate reading on the suitability of their services.
Once you’ve selected your outsourcing provider, signed a contract (if required), and made your first payment, you’re ready to move forward and begin working with them. In order to give this working relationship a smooth start, go ahead and prepare any instructions you want followed and the tasks you’d like completed first.
Assigning your first tasks
Depending on the type of work you’re outsourcing, this step could involve a number of different things.
If, using our example from above, you’re outsourcing call answering to a third party provider, your first order of business would be to give specific instructions on how you’d like your calls answered.
- Tell the provider what you’d like done
- Give any special instructions or directions needed to complete the task
- Verify the plan or process for completing the task
- Allow the provider to carry out the task as instructed
- Review their work and determine suitability
Determining long-term suitability
Now that you’ve had a trial period with your outsourcing provider, you will be better able to determine the long-term suitability of this provider and decide if you’d like to continue working with them for your outsourcing needs.
Remember – not every provider is going to be a good fit. Don’t give up if the first provider you try doesn’t meet your expectations – there are vendors and providers out there that will exceed your expectations. You just have to do research to find them.
A company is most likely suitable to work with long-term if they…
- Provided deliverables on time; met all deadlines
- Gave advance notice in the event of problems or issues
- Made solid efforts to correct any problems
- Provided services as agreed upon
- Are easy to contact/reach with questions
- Offer good, responsive customer service
- Allow you to customize a plan to meet your needs
- Are transparent about processes and practices
Doing in-depth research, comparing providers, being realistic about budgets and needs – that’s all it takes to find the right outsourcing provider and reduce your workload.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing but aren’t sure where to start, following the steps outlined in this checklist will get you off to a great start and help you determine the right type of provider for the work you need completed.
Conversational is a call answering and virtual receptionist provider that specializes in small business call answering. Visit Conversational.com/Pricing-Plans to learn more.