Outsourcing work to freelancers is becoming as much a part of the normal way to do business as hiring employees. While outsourcing has always been around, the advent of reliable remote connectivity tools has fueled a new freelance economy which has made outsourcing easier and more effective than ever.
Virtual offices are helping freelancers be effective performing their contractor work in a more cost effective manner than if the job was performed in-house. It makes sense for companies, big and small, to outsource non core-activities. To find the best service provider for your needs, there are several ways to weed through the available providers.
- Find out how the provider is able to communicate with you about the project. You may need nothing more than to communicate through email during business hours. However, many business owners need to be able to get a hold of their providers at other times and in other ways. If you anticipate needing Skype or cell communications with someone, ask just how you can get a hold of the provider as well as exactly what hours they are available.
- What kind of guarantees do you get from the provider? Some providers will guarantee a certain performance from the work they provide. Some guarantee that your satisfaction will be met when the work is completed or that further steps will be taken. If you are outsourcing written work, finding out whether rewrites are included in the price is necessary. If you are outsourcing software or Website design, you will need a guarantee of usability. For product manufacturing, product specification guarantees are in order.
- How does the price stack up with the competition? As any business owner knows, choosing a provider based exclusively on the lowest price isn't always wise. However, choosing the most expensive from among comparable providers may not be any wiser. Take a look at how prices average for providers with the same level of expertise and experience. Providers who charge very little for very complex work may be in over their heads. Those who charge far too much for moderate skills may not be worth the price.
- Ask to see examples of past work when possible. If you're outsourcing VA tasks, that may not be possible, but for many other industries it shouldn't be a challenge for a provider to show you a few recent work examples. If you aren't able to directly see past samples, ask for references. Past clients should be able to tell you how competent the provider is.
- How well does each prospective provider understand your project needs? If your project is unusual or one far outside the usual scope of a provider, communicate directly with that provider with specific questions about the range of services available. If the company seems to need far more direction than necessary, a virtual form of hand holding, you may not save as much time as you should by hiring that provider. There may even be misunderstandings about what the company is expected to provide. It may be worthwhile to seek out a company with more direct experience with what you want. It may also be necessary to draw up a highly detailed contract so that neither party is surprised with the outcome of the work done by the provider.