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Engaging Outsourcers 20 Questions to Ask

Last updated August 6, 2013

Whatever you may think, no-one will ever be as passionate about your business as you are - FACT? They can't be; it's not theirs!

I agree that some staff are 'passionate' about the business; they work hard, are conscientious, they will go 'above and beyond' what is required most of the time but when they go home they can leave the business behind them - you can't, won't or don't. The same rules apply when you are engaging external support in whatever format that may take.

Appointing an agency, interim, consultant, out-sourcers or freelancers needs to be carefully considered - don't rush it - they are an extension of your business so give it as much attention as you would to recruiting a new member of staff. Get to know them, how they operate and what they achieve. Try them out on a small project first, before rushing to give them the big stuff.

Here are 20 questions to consider before commissioning outsourced support.

1. Do they really, and in mean really, understand what your business is all about?

2. Do they exhibit the same traits, words and actions of someone that you would employ in the business?

3. Will they really 'care' about the business? They will never be as passionate so 'care' is the goal.

4. Do they understand your target market and what makes your customers tick?

5. Do they have any conflicts of interest, for example, are they also working for one of your competitors?

6. Do they want you to be really successful?

7. Will they put their own preferences aside to do the best for your business?

8. Do they offer you references - contacts for you to talk to about them?

9. What value do they add, over and above just another pair(s) of hands?

10. Do they expect to be measured and paid on results?

11. Can they do what they say they can and in the way that you want it to be done?

12. Will they charge you to get to know your business?

13. Will they pull out all the stops to deliver the best work they can for you, every time?

14. Do they have the relevant insurances in place, are they adequate and cover the right things?

15. How do they solve problems and disputes with clients? What about errors that they might make?

16. Are they local, can you visit them easily, especially when you have a rush job or a problem?

17. Are they financially secure or might they will go bust halfway through the work they are doing for you?

18. Do they set out exactly what you are going to get / achieve, by when and for how much? What happens to the 'extra' work that might be required?

19. Would they buy your product?

20. Do you like, trust and respect them?

When you are ready to start make sure that you have the right safeguards in place:

  • NDA - non- disclosure agreements
  • Terms & conditions in place for both sides
  • SLA - service level agreements
  • Dispute resolution process
  • Measures and reporting content and regularity
  • Non-performance clause.

If you have, (and I'm sure you do) a brand manifesto, positioning statements, working principles and standards of service that your own employees abide by, then whoever you engage externally should adopt all of these too! If they are reluctant to 'sign-up' or breach these, then it's time for you to find someone better.

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Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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