Outsourcing a construction or engineering project can help you save time and resources.
Of course, that’s assuming you manage the project well… There are a lot of challenges involved in managing any sort of construction or engineering project. You need to keep dozens of people focused on the task at hand. Every person needs to have a specific job and schedule. And of course, you need to oversee the whole thing to make sure it all goes as planned. These challenges have the potential to magnify when you’re working with an outsourced team. Now, you have a group of people who aren’t in the office with you. That means you have even more barriers to overcome to make the project work. And that’s before you even consider the regulatory considerations of such projects. Without effective management, all the benefits of working with an outsourced team can slip away. The time and monetary savings disappear due to delays and poor scheduling. You need to know what to do to make your outsourced project a success. And with these tips, you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving what you set out to do.
Tip #1 – Make Project Goals Clear From the Start
This is important for any project. However, it’s essential when working with an outsourced team. That’s because there are often language barriers to overcome, in addition to the geographic distance between yourself and the team. The key here is that you don’t simply assign tasks without any context. Hold an initial briefing with the team leaders so you can talk to them in detail about the project. Outline the overall goal before digging into the specific tasks you need them to accomplish. You can also use this time to create a schedule for follow-up meetings. After all, you need to keep track of the project’s progress. This briefing also gives the team the chance to raise any concerns or issues they may have before getting underway. You’ll get the project started on the right foot and minimise the risk of early errors that could lead to major problems later on.
Tip #2 – Provide Key Documentation From the Beginning
Where the briefing tackles what the team needs to do, your documentation shows them how. Obviously, your key documentation involves anything related to the project that the team needs to complete their work. It also includes internal documents that you use in the running of your business. Remember that your outsourced team is a part of your company. You need them to represent you in the same way as your onshore team. Creating a playbook is one of the best ways to do this. Use this book to detail your company’s overall mission and aims. You can also include step-by-step instructions for the key processes that you need your outsourced team to handle. Doing this creates consistency in how your outsourced team works on certain tasks. You’re not leaving it up to them to figure out, which means there’s less chance of errors in the project. Revisit this documentation regularly and discuss it with your outsourced team. The key here is to keep tweaking what you have until it’s as clear as possible.
Tip #3 – Create a Communication Protocol
We touched on this in Tip #1 when we spoke about scheduling follow-up meetings with your team. The simple fact is that you can’t just give instructions to your outsourced team and then leave them to it. Much like with an onshore project, there’s a possibility that unforeseen issues will arise. When this happens, your team needs to be able to get in touch with you to handle these issues. Your communication protocol details how they’ll do that. Use it to outline the methods of communication that you’ll use. Furthermore, it’s important to build accountability into the protocol. For example, you may have a protocol of responding within 24 hours to any issues that the outsourced team raises. Of course, the team has the same responsibility for any issues that you raise. Beyond that, it’s crucial that you set up scheduled meetings with the team leaders. Ideally, you’ll speak to them at least once per week about the progress of the project. Aim to have this meeting at the same time and day each week to build consistency into the project.
Tip #4 – Create a Support Network for the Outsourced Team
In an article published in Forbes, BodeTree founder Chris Myers points to the importance of creating a support network. He says: “We’ve found the most successful partnerships develop when you can offer a support network the outsourced team can rely on for the long-term.” In this scenario, support comes from how you educate and train your outsourced team. The playbook you created is only one part of this process. You’ll need to follow up on and reinforce your messages to ensure the team stays on track. In an ideal world, you’d be able to offer face-to-face training to your team when needed. However, that isn’t always feasible with an outsourced project. Still, you should be able to answer questions and point team members in the direction of useful resources. It may also be worth creating a specific training program for your outsourced team. This will help them get to grips with what you need. Plus, it provides them with a pool of resources that will help reinforce what they learned.
Tip #5 – Use Reliable Tools
The success of your outsourced project relies on quality tools and software. In many cases, you’re working with teams that are halfway across the globe from you. This already creates the potential for delays due to the time zone differences. You don’t want poor tools to make those issues more severe than they need to be. Ideally, any tools you use will make creating and sharing project documents as simple as possible. You may opt for an enterprise solution here – there are many on the market. However, if budget is a concern, there are several cost-effective platforms that can prove useful. For example, Google Docs offers several tools for document creation. It also makes the sharing and editing of this documentation simple, as well as offering you control over access. Slack is a great tool for communication and document sharing. It also allows you to create specific project groups, which is great for organising projects. The key to this tip is choosing the tools and software you need before starting work. And again, it’s important that you explain the purpose of these tools to your team. Provide training on how to use them effectively and your project will run smoothly.
Tip #6 – Get to Know Your Team
Your outsourced team isn’t a collection of faceless people who work on your behalf. They’re essentially employees of your company, and you need to treat them as such. When you don’t, you create the possibility for resentment to form. Outsourced teams face many of the same motivation and productivity-related issues as onshore teams. Simply put, the team needs to feel like it belongs and has a purpose within your organisation. That’s why it’s so important that you get to know your team. Spend time talking to the key team leaders and find out what makes them tick. Learn what motivates them and ask them to provide information about the other team members as well. You can use this information to create incentive programs, especially for larger projects. Beyond that, simply having a relationship with the team helps them feel connected to your company.
Tip #7 – Outsource to the Right Partner
Unfortunately, many of these tips will prove of little use if you’re not working with the right partners to begin with. This is especially true in the construction and engineering sectors. Often, you’ll find that potential outsourcing partners act as jacks of all trades. They claim that they can provide teams for any industry or niche. However, you soon find that they can’t complete specific tasks related to your industry. It’s best to work with a partner that specialises in what your company does. This makes it more likely that the team will have the required capabilities for your project. And it may relieve some of the training burden, as they already have an understanding of your industry.
It’s Time to Find Your Partner
With these tips, you’ll be able to manage your outsourced project more effectively. Again, the key here is to treat your team as though they are part of your business. But before you can do that, you need to find a partner that can provide a suitable team for the project. This is where Cybalink Solutions comes in. We specialise in creating outsourced solutions for engineering and construction companies. With our help, you’ll create a team that’s capable of handling your projects. Plus, we can help you manage your team to create more effective outcomes.
Get in touch today to book a confidential call with our co-founders Kim Lombardi and John Rodgers.
If you want to know how much you would save from outsourcing with Cybalink Solutions, use our engineering and construction offshore savings calculator FOR FREE.