The number of tasks that a business has to handle can be overwhelming and employing staff members for each is costly and time consuming. Outsourcing expertise is an increasingly popular way to get work completed and it means that you can hire specialised vendors rather than relying on full-timers. It certainly requires time and a little investment, but the return is excellent. The person that you hire will be specialised in his or her field, meaning that they are sure to do a good job, and employing people on a job-to-job basis means that in the long run you save money and time too.
There are a wealth of freelancers out there, ready and willing to do almost any task you could require for your business – even down to administration tasks such as typing. Experts such as web-designers are there to be hired, so that you don’t have to rely on your own knowledge or use your own time when the need arises. Similarly, there are some business requirements that may be infrequent, such as public relations events, and others that don’t provide enough work for a full-time member of staff, such as bookkeeping and payroll. Outsourcing these irregular jobs to freelancers means that you will undoubtedly save money.
Effectively outsourcing work can be confusing if you haven’t done it before, and you may fall into some traps, but here are some tips to make it work for you:
- Be clear about what you want done and the timescale that is appropriate right from the start. Being accurate and specific about your expectations and requirements means that you will end up with the right person for the job.
- Interview freelancers in the same way that you would interview full time employees. Ask the same questions and request references or feedback from their previous clients.
- Look for someone with specific experience in your project. For example, if you are looking to have a business plan written, don’t just hire a writer but hire one who has had experience writing business plans. Why stop there? If you are a retail business, look for a writer with experience writing retail-specific business plans. The closer experience that the freelancer has to your sector, the better.
- Don’t pick your vendor on price alone. Eliminate the highest and lowest bidders immediately and try to find a balance between value for money and quality of work.
- Request to view samples of previous work and portfolios – and make sure you look through them.
- Hire freelancers for smaller jobs initially to judge how well you work togetherthen build to bigger and more important tasks later.
- Have clearly defined milestones and checkpoints throughout the job. Staying in touch and reviewing work is important for both you and your vendor – you’ll both know that you are on the right track and that work will be completed on schedule.
- Consider copyright laws and discuss ownership of the completed work before it is begun.
- When hiring, don’t forget that you’ll probably need post-job support. For example there may be glitches in a new web application that may need ironing out, or edits required after industry feedback. Negotiate this cost into the original price to save money.
- Use an escrow service – this involves paying a trusted third-party for services up-front that keeps the money until the work is satisfactorily completed. The funds are then released to the freelancer. This type of service is often included in outsourcing sites such as Elance, and provides a safety net for both you and the vendor.
- Be prepared for challenges and complications along the way. Just as when you hire employees, hiring freelance vendors can have ups and downs – but it’ll be worth it in the end.