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Dummies Guide to Outsourcing
Those who are considering outsourcing portions of work for the first time may be feeling overwhelmed and hesitant about the concept of relying on someone outside the company to complete work related tasks.
It is not an easy decision to outsource your work as you may not know enough about the in’s and out’s of it all. We hope this info you are reading will guide you through this with enough information to make you feel comfortable to find qualified people and setup your project requirements and how to deal with deadlines to complete the project.
Select Qualified Candidates Carefully
One way to greatly simplify the process of outsourcing is to give special consideration to selecting a qualified candidate to complete the outsourced tasks. This is important because outsourcing the project to an individual who is qualified to complete the tasks and motivated to do a good job will make the outsourcing endeavor more likely to be successful.
To find the right candidate for the job, place advertisements outlining the project requirements and preferences and carefully review each application which is submitted. Immediately disregard applicants who are not qualified for the position. Then review the applications of qualified candidates carefully and select a small group of the most promising candidates. Next interview each of these candidates and verify their references and passed work experiences to learn more about these candidates and their abilities and work ethics.
After interviewing these candidates it is time to make a decision regarding hiring one of the final candidates. Do not be discouraged if none of the final candidates seemed right for the job because you are under no obligation to hire any of them. You can continue your search for a qualified candidate by placing your job advertisement again and soliciting new responses.
Establish Definite Requirements
When outsourcing a project or tasks, it is important to clearly define the project requirements. This is critical because it is important for the contractor to fully understand the tasks which are being outsourced to ensure he is fulfilling all of the requirements and completing the task in a satisfactory manner.
Failure to establish definite project requirements and goals can lead to a great deal of problems when outsourcing a project. The contractor may feel as though he has completed the project as it was outlined but the employer may disagree. When this happens there can be harmful delays until the issues can be resolved amicably. In the case that this is not possible it might be necessary to employ the assistance of a mediator to evaluate the contract documents and the work produced to determine if the contract terms were met.
Establish a Firm Deadline
Another important element of outsourcing is establishing a firm deadline for the project. This is important to avoid misunderstandings and to prevent late submissions of work. Setting milestone goals is also important because it gives the employer the ability to evaluate the progress of the contractor during different stages of the project and to ensure it is proceeding according to schedule.
Ideally the deadline should be established before the candidate is chosen. This is important because this enables the employer to verify that the contractor is available for the duration of the project. Schedule should be discussed early in the process of selecting a candidate to avoid selecting an ideal candidate only to find out he is unavailable when his services are required.
Finding Ways to Outsource
Are you considering outsourcing but have no idea where to start? In almost every industry there is the opportunity to outsource at least a few of the common tasks performed in the industry. In some industries there may the possibility of outsourcing the majority of the common tasks while in other industries there may only be the opportunity to outsource one or two of the common tasks. In either case outsourcing can result in a lightened workload as well as an increase in profit.
Evaluate Daily Activities
The first step in finding ways to outsource is to take a really close look at the daily activities you perform when tending to your business. Make a list of each of these activities and note any related activities that are typically performed in conjunction with each other. Making this note is important because activities which are typically performed together should either be outsourced together or remain as in-house activities together to maintain the highest level of efficiency.
Once you have compiled this list of activities, carefully consider which activities can easily be performed by another person and which activities require your personal attention. This will give you a good idea of which activities you could outsource and which activities would not be good opportunities for outsourcing.
Finally, review your list of activities and note how long it takes you to perform each of the activities you could outsource. This information will be helpful later if you decide to search for a candidate to complete these tasks.
Prioritize Daily Activities
After you have carefully examined your daily activities, it is time to prioritize these activities. Create a comprehensive list of all of your daily activities in their order of importance. For this list include both the activities requiring your personal attention and the activities which can be outsourced.
When you make your decision to start outsourcing some of your daily tasks, start with the highest priority on the list which you believe can be outsourced. Attempt to outsource this task as a test to determine whether or not outsourcing will work for you. If you decide you are comfortable with outsourcing and that it is working for your business, you can continue down the prioritized list attempting to find those capable of handling your daily activities.
Consider Administrative Tasks
We have already discussed the importance of evaluating your own daily tasks in the process of finding ways to outsource but it is also important to consider tasks completed by your staff members. Administrative tasks are often tasks which can be outsourced so examining these tasks will give you a good idea if you can increase the efficiency of your administrative assistance by outsourcing some of their responsibilities.
Activities such as data entry, transcription and other activities often handled by personal assistance are all example of activities which can easily be outsourced. Additionally, there is a great deal of qualified candidates available to fulfill these tasks. The industry of virtual personal assistants has become a booming industry with many savvy entrepreneurs offering their skills in these areas as a consultant.
Develop a Plan for Managing Outsourced Activities
Before starting to outsource daily activities, you should develop a plan for managing all of your outsourced activities. This plan should include the following:
* Method for selecting candidates to handle outsourced work
* Method for overseeing the work performed by independent contractors
* Method for evaluating the work performed by independent contractors
Protect Your Niche When Outsourcing
In the world of Internet niche marketing, the greatest asset is often the chosen niche. Many marketers spend a great deal of time, energy and resources selecting a niche which they believe is going to be profitable. There are certainly no guarantees a particular niche will be profitable but there are certain strategies for choosing a niche that has a high probability of success.
One popular strategy for selecting a niche involves employing a principle similar to the concept of supply and demand. Statistical information supplied by search engines is used to determine the popularity of certain search terms. This information is significant because terms which are being searched frequently are terms which have a large audience of Internet users looking for more information on the niche subject. These are terms which are in high demand. From this statistical information you can build a list of potential niches. Once this list is compiled, it is time to begin researching the competition in each of these niches. Ideally the niche you select will be one which has a large audience and not much competition. These are niches which are in low supply.
Choose the Type of Work You Outsource Carefully
One way to protect your niche is to be selective about the type of work you outsource to others. Many Internet niche marketers are comfortable outsourcing their copywriting and their website design. However, they are more protective about outsourcing tasks such as marketing, niche selection and keyword development. This is because although copywriting and website design both involve optimization for keywords the strategies for doing so are readily available on the Internet. However, many marketers have specific methods for marketing and developing a niche and keywords and are not willing to outsource this work because it will likely involve sharing secret strategies.
Share Keywords via Email
Developing related keywords for the niche is a very important part of the success of an Internet niche marketing campaign. Keywords are absolutely critical and conventional wisdom holds that an extensive list of keywords should be developed for a particular niche to be successful. Some in the industry recommend developing approximately 200 keywords for each niche.
There is a great amount of effort put into the process of selecting keywords and those who are savvy do not want to make it possible for others to find their list of keywords on the Internet. Including a list of keywords on an advertisement seeking a copywriter or website designer will be searchable by others in the industry. For this reason it is not wise to post keyword lists where others have free access to the keywords. This may sound overly paranoid but it is commonly known that Internet marketers often make the mistake of posting their keywords on job boards and those who are interested in harvesting these keywords visit these websites frequently to gather information. Transmitting the keywords through a protected email account or via telephone is a better way to protect the work you have put into developing your niche.
Use a Non Disclosure Agreement
Finally, a non disclosure agreement (NDA) is one way for the marketer to protect his niche when he is outsourcing. An NDA is essentially a document specifying the rights of the employer and employee in regard to sensitive materials. The NDA can be drafted to include any terms the client sees fit. Some example of the restrictions the contractor may agree to by signing an NDA are:
* A definition of which materials are sensitive
* Restrictions on how materials can be transmitted
* A stipulation precluding the contractor from competing in the niche during a given time period
* A duration of time for which the contract is binding
In protecting a niche market the above terms can be used when outsourcing. The client may specify the sensitive materials to be the niche and the related keywords as well as any information regarding marketing strategy. The client may limit the methods in which the sensitive materials can be transmitted to secure emails and telephone conversations. The duration of time for which the contract is binding is up to the client. Common timeframes include the duration of the project or a set number of days, weeks, months or years. In niche marketing a timeframe of at least one year after the project is completed is recommended to prevent the contractors from entering the same niche immediately after the project ends.