As your company develops, it’s quite possible you’ll find yourself in a position where the fastest way to continue growing is by hiring an outsourcing partner.
Finding and training employees can be very time consuming, and takes energy away from your core business. Also, you may not want to have all necessary services and skills in-house. In that case, working with an outsourcing provider is an attractive option.
Once you’ve made the decision to work with a remote team, you then need to figure out the best way to go about managing your outsourced project.
Good communication is essential
It’s highly likely that you and your outsourcing partner have very different ideas about management, communication, company culture, and pretty much everything else.
So, in order to work together successfully, first, you need to figure out how to get on the same page. That requires over-communicating in the beginning. Talk about everything and discuss every little detail.
When you ask your outsourcing partner to do something, it might mean a very different thing to them. So you have to follow up and ask what exactly they are intending to do, and how they are going to go about it. That way you’ll know if your message got across accurately, or if it was lost in translation.
Once you’ve worked together for a while, it’s possible to relax this attitude of hyper-communication and let your outsourcing partner handle the details without continually checking on them.
At that point you’ll know what to expect from each other, and how to communicate effectively.
Build fundamental areas of alignment
Before you start, you have to make sure you and your outsourcing partner are in alignment on the 4 fundamental areas of the project.
These areas are:
The goals of the project can be used as a cornerstone to get everyone on the same page before discussing anything else. Make sure your partner understands why you are hiring them, and what you want to achieve with this project.
Once everyone understands and agrees with the key objectives, this will make everything else easier to discuss, because you are already in fundamental alignment on the most important area.
It’s important to get a clear picture of the structure of the remote team(s) that you will be working with. How many people will work on particular aspects of the project, and what are their specific roles? Are they all located together in the same place, and do they work at the same time?
You’ll also want to give your outsourcing partner a clear idea of your local team structure, and how you expect them to connect with the remote team. That way each partner knows what the corresponding team looks like, and how the two are intended to integrate with each other.
You need to understand who is responsible for managing the remote team(s), and how they will go about it. These remote managers play a key role in the whole project, and you should make sure you can work with them effectively.
Ideally, you don’t have to get involved in the micro-management of the remote team, since that’s taken care of by the outsourcing partner. But that means you need to cultivate a strong connection with the remote managers, since the whole communication will run through them.
Once you have identified the key people you need to work with, give them a clear idea of your local management structure. That way they will know how your communication and decision-making process works, and can adjust their work to that.
In case you decide to go with a different model, in which your local managers directly run the remote team, make sure everyone understands this, and knows who they will be reporting to.
As mentioned above, good communication is essential if your outsourcing project is going to succeed, so this is an area you absolutely have to get right.
When choosing the right communication channels and best practices for keeping in touch, it pays to go into great detail with your outsourcing partner.
After you have worked out the management relationships mentioned in point 3 above, you can draw out a schematic representation of key relationships, and then determine the best practices for effective communication within that structure.
This point is so critical, that you should set up hold training sessions devoted just to effective communication. Teach both your local and remote teams how you want them to connect with each other within the agreed management structure.
While the integration of remote teams is challenging for any business leadership, following the guidelines in this article will help you to get it right, and achieve great success with outsourcing.
But remember that this is just the beginning. You’ll have to revisit and adjust all of these areas as the project unfolds, to make sure that all key management and communication practices are up-to-date with the changing dynamics of the project.