Six Questions to Ask When Outsourcing

by Gabe Arnold

As your organization grows, it might be necessary to outsource certain tasks. As the leader of your organization, you’ve realized that your business has a specialty. If you feel like you may be spending more time on a task that costs you money rather than on tasks that make you money, it may be time to outsource that function. If you’re not an advertising agency, you may wish to outsource your marketing strategy. If you’re not a delivery firm, you may wish to outsource your deliveries. When you begin to think about outsourcing some of your more mundane tasks, don’t ever settle for the first company you come across. Do your research and ask yourself these six questions.

What Can I Expect?

Outsourcing usually requires the signing of a contract. Read the fine print – don’t overlook it. Remember that your account manager is trying to make a sale and make his company look good. Don’t be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions. You need to know how the company is structured, who your points of contact will be, and who is actually performing the work that you’re outsourcing. After all, this outsourced company will remain nameless to your own customers and may affect your public image.

What If My Needs Change?

Over time, your business needs may change. In fact, your changing business needs are what caused you to consider outsourcing to begin with. As you go over your contract, look for ways that your company can either grow or downsize. Your contract should allow for certain flexibilities and “what if” clauses.

Am I Being Understood?

It may seem unnecessary to define basic terms, but if you’re not on the same page as your account manager, then you need to get on the same page. Is your version of, “high quality,” the same as their version of, “high quality?” What does accurate mean to your outsourced company? These are critical questions that will enable you to assess the quality of your outsourced company. These are questions that you need to ask the account manager before you sign any contract. In other words, you need to completely understand what you’re getting yourself into before you sign any paper.

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If I Have a Question, How Will I Get an Answer?

Many account managers will tell you that if you a question, you will get a response. What you need to know is how you will get the answer. If you have an urgent and pressing issue with your outsourced company, how quickly can you receive an answer? If you’re not satisfied with the answer from your point of contact, who else can you expect to speak to?

To the outsourced company, you are a customer – remember this. As a customer, one of the things you are paying for is support. This is especially true if the outsourced task may affect the quality of your product and how customers view you. The last thing you want to tell a customer when they have an issue with your product is that it is out of your hands. That does nothing for your public image and how your customers perceive you.

Will the Agreement Remain Mutual?

Once you sign the outsourcing contract, you will likely be working with this company for a long time. Before you sign the contract, it might be prudent to find out more about this company. You need to feel comfortable being frank and blunt with this company – especially if an issue arises. It might not be a bad idea to get to know your account manager first so that you guys are on friendly terms. Preparing like this can go a long way to making sure that you have a mutually profitable relationship with your outsourced company.

Before you sign any contract, it may appear that your account manager is more concerned with selling the account to you than anything else. However, once you sign the contract, your account manager needs to be more concerned with keeping you satisfied and happy as a customer rather than upselling you and trying to sell you more services that you may not need.

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How Does the Outsourced Company Treat Other Clients?

This is probably the most important part of learning about your outsourced company. Find out who else this company serves. Usually, business contact information is not confidential. Ask for this contact information and contact the other clients. Find out what the other clients think of this potential company. These firsthand testimonials can go a long way to making sure that you’re signing a contract with the right company. This can give you a different perspective and can reveal information that the account manager may be hiding.

The biggest question you need to ask yourself is whether the company you’re considering outsourcing tasks to has your best interests at heart. Wouldn’t you do the same thing for one of your own customers or clients? Would you do your best to make sure that your client’s interests and needs are taken care of in the capacity of the business relationship? The only difference is that the tables are turned. When you outsource tasks to another company, you’re the customer – not the merchant.

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