Ever consider standing on the edge of a cliff willing to jump at the first shout from whoever passes by? Most people would tell you that’s the definition of outsourcing IT. The risk is yours, and the failure definite.
What if there’s a friend who knows when to ask you to jump and you’ve got the bungee jumping ropes in place?
Exactly. Outsourcing with the right partner, right attitude and right perspective is a lot of fun, profitable and pretty successful.
Remember Michael Jackson crooning ‘Keep the Faith’?
“If you call out loud, will it get inside, through the heart of your surrender… But the power’s in believing, so give yourself a chance…”
How to Begin Building Faith in an Outsourcing Partner
You must take that chance to begin with. Faith doesn’t come overnight. The best way to choose a prospective outsourcing company is to ask friends and seek recommendations from business contacts.
The ideal way to begin is by entrusting small tasks to your Outsourcing Partner first.
A collaborative attitude, mutual understanding of project requirements, quality basics etc. will be developed over time. Once you see an outsourcing company pulling off small projects in time and to your satisfaction you can move on to the bigger projects.
All vendors too would like to build a profile with good recommendations so they are unlikely to fail at bigger or more lucrative projects if they have delivered small projects to satisfaction.
Placing your trust in the right Outsourcing Partner also requires that you choose wisely to begin with.
Check all client references carefully and follow up some if possible. Do not entirely depend on references provided by the vendor because often these might have been doctored.
“Because it’s just a matter of time, before your confidence will win out, you can be a winner, but you got to keep the faith…”
You must draw up a timeline with various stages of completion of the project marked out. Entrust your project to a vendor only after you have decided the timeline with him.
This would help you monitor the project at every stage of progress. You would be able to keep track of the work and ensure that the project is coming along successfully step by step.
Also, this would give you an insight into how the vendor is actually proceeding with the project at hand. This information would come in handy later when you have to decide whether you can entrust a bigger project to the vendor or not.
What to Discuss With IT Company Before Beginning a Project
Before you hand over a project to a vendor it is absolutely necessesary that you discuss the following criteria with him:
- Business Requirement
- Defining Scope of Work
- Timeline to deliver the project
- Pricing / Discounted pricing
- Project Progress
- Approved User Acceptance Test
Picking up Clues About IT Vendor Behavior
Sometimes you might be required to request changes. It is important to watch out how your vendor reacts to these requests. Is the outsourcing vendor flexible enough and has a positive approach to seeing the project to completion despite changes?
When outsourcing web or software projects it is essential that you interact directly and as often as feasible with the programmer/web developer, designer/SEO expert etc.
When working with an outsourcing vendor for the first time you must monitor the support available and overall turnaround time. After all, the first project is actually an evaluation process for your future business ventures in outsourcing and partnering with a particular vendor.
Maintaining direct contact and communication is the key to half the success of a project that has been outsourced.
Understandably a project leader or project manager is the first point of contact for a client but you can go a step forward and meet the actual team at least twice a month. A virtual meeting serves the purpose as much.
Proper communication and interaction will ensure that you have control over the progress of the project and the team is motivated enough to see the project through before deadline.
Compliance versus Trust
When evaluating an Outsourcing Partner keep your antennas up as well. Compliance with the terms of a contract is not about building faith and trust. Do not confuse the two. Ensure that your vendor also understands this.
Isn’t there something more to it? Something more than a contract? Definitely! Just doing the bare minimum when delivering a project so that the terms of a contract are legally met is not about building long-term relationships.
You can spot that kind of an attitude easily. So, look for those subtle qualities that cannot be bought by a paycheck – innovation, ideas, knowledge, and creativity.
Another way to check the faith-score of a prospective long-term outsourcing vendor is to see how they react when something does go wrong. Are they quick to get down to solutions or they get into the blame game while the project hangs?
One sure way of knowing whether a vendor can be trusted with a long-term partnership is to check how they keep their communication channels open.
It’s not about delivering the projects when required it’s about keeping that skype ‘available’ sign blinking even though you know no communication is required right away.
It’s not just about being there but about assuring you from time to time about being there!
Clarity of Communication
Clarity in all instructions and requirements in an absolute must for any partnership to succeed. Since outsourcing is more about long distance relationships ensure that you spell out everything right down to the basics even though you know that the vendor is intelligent enough to understand some of these instructions.
See how the vendor responds? Trust will be easier to build with an outsourcing vendor who doesn’t work on assumptions of any kind.
Once all this is in place, trust and faith in a business relationship is bound to follow. But it’s you who has to lead the way. The outsourcing vendor has to, of course, do his bit but you must conduct the show.
We’d still say, the Michael Jackson way,
“Get yourself together, ’cause you got to keep the faith, Uh, Uh, Uh
Don’t let nobody take you down, Brother, Just keep your eyes on the prize,
And, your feet flat on the ground, keep the faith, Baby, Yea…”